Newsletter

ATC Weekly Update April 4

The Importance of Mentoring and Sponsoring


Barbary Brunner, CEO

I had the pleasure of being asked by the Austin Business Journal to be part of the mentor team at their Bizwomen Mentoring Monday this month. It’s an event done in partnership with 42 other American City Business Journals featuring more than 1,720 women business leader mentors and almost 10,000 women in business seeking advice.

I was honored to be part of a group of 40 amazing and brilliant women, many of them members of the ATC community, including April Downing (WP Engine), Mini Kahlon (Dell Medical School), Abby Payne (SailPoint), Lisa Pearson (Umbel), Jennifer Poppe (Vinson & Elkins), Jan Ryan, Michele Skelding, and Ellen Wood (VCFO). It’s an opportunity for each of us to help other women move forward in their careers, something we are all deeply invested in. By now, we have all read the statistics that show that increasing the number of women on your product and brand teams increases employee and customer satisfaction, that more women in the C-Suite and on the Board increases financial performance. But tech still suffers from an astonishing amount of gender imbalance and overt chauvinism. We are all shocked by what we’ve read about the treatment of female engineers at Uber, but almost every woman in tech has a story of her own.

The only way to make sure that tech is a welcoming place for women is to ensure that leaders are involved in looking out for and correcting behavior that undermines female employees, creating a culture where women know that they are free to bring issues forward, where they are rewarded for having the same drive and passion that we value in our rock-star male employees. Human Resources plays an important role, but the Senior Leadership Team must talk the talk and walk the walk.

Mentoring is critical, sponsorship is even better. If you are a tech executive, I challenge you to find a talented and promising woman in your company to sponsor. Make it your mission to ensure that she gets a seat at the right tables, gets introduced to people who can advise her and inspire her, that you help her strategize a way through the roadblocks in the way of her success. I guarantee that the impact of your doing this will be exponential and reach far beyond just the one woman you sponsor.


Employee Experience: Culture is more than Ping Pong Tables

Join ATC for our first 2017 HR Executive Dinner and a panel of experts who will lead discussion on new trends for on-boarding, employee reviews, opportunities for advancement, and reward & recognition programs.

Our C-Level dinners are protected environments where executives come together and participate in a casual discussion led by a thought leader within the ATC community on a topic highly relevant to your needs. This dinner is for CEOs, Presidents, Founders, and Executive Directors.


ATC CTO Dinner Recap

Lead and Disrupt: How to Solve the Innovators Dilemma

Provided by PetersGroup PR & Marketing

 

On March 29th, ATC held it’s third executive dinner of the year. The evening was hosted by Ray Wolf, Interim COO of ReDirect Health, who rounded up a group of Central Texas’ top technologists to discuss innovation models, how innovation drives business success, and how, as innovators, they are able to draw new ideas through organizational culture that pushes people past their comfort zone and seek out answers to problems that need to be solved.

The evening’s panelists included Alan Knitowski–Chairman and CEO of Phunware, Liam Quinn–CTO, SVP and Sr. Fellow for Dell Technologies, Robert Reeves–Co-Founder & CTO of Datical, John Ruggles–SVP Global Sales for Frost & Sullivan and Marc Willebeek-LeMair–Chief Strategy Officer for Alert Logic.

Over the last year, we have had a variety of interesting dinner conversations and speakers, but this more than the rest drew attendees who came ready to take notes. Ray put together a panel of speakers that each had a unique background and approach to innovation that represented the stage and culture of each company.

Some interesting take-aways:
How do you source ideas for innovation from outside the company?

  • Marc – “take the executive team out of the office and into the streets to meet with people and pitch their concept”
  • Liam – “tech tours in Asia, and customer interviews” also “develop people in a way that enables innovation”
  • Robert – “reward ideas from your employee’s immediately and publicly”–also, “sometimes too many readily available resources can lead to failure”
  • Alan – “global, real-time, focus groups” also “all the really great businesses come from creating markets where none previously existed”
  • Ray – “connections to “hackathons” and published problem catalogs

Advice for Start-Ups:

  • John – “focus on collaboration and sourcing ideas for the next 10 – 15 years and be realistic”
  • Marc – “IGNORE reality – let’s assume, then innovate and come back to the challenges”
  • Alan – “find the True North and make sure it wont change 10, 15, or 50 years from now”

In upcoming events we will further explore the topic of innovation and how innovation modeling and executing can move your business forward.

Thank you to all of our speakers and attendee’s, as well as our sponsors for the evening Texas Engineering Executive Education and O’Reilly Media.

The Importance of Mentoring and Sponsoring

Barbary Brunner, CEO

Barbary Brunner, CEO

I had the pleasure of being asked by the Austin Business Journal to be part of the mentor team at their Bizwomen Mentoring Monday this month. It’s an event done in partnership with 42 other American City Business Journals featuring more than 1,720 women business leader mentors and almost 10,000 women in business seeking advice.

I was honored to be part of a group of 40 amazing and brilliant women, many of them members of the ATC community, including April Downing (WP Engine), Mini Kahlon (Dell Medical School), Abby Payne (SailPoint), Lisa Pearson (Umbel), Jennifer Poppe (Vinson & Elkins), Jan Ryan, Michele Skelding, and Ellen Wood (VCFO). It’s an opportunity for each of us to help other women move forward in their careers, something we are all deeply invested in. By now, we have all read the statistics that show that increasing the number of women on your product and brand teams increases employee and customer satisfaction, that more women in the C-Suite and on the Board increase financial performance. But tech still suffers from an astonishing amount of gender imbalance and overt chauvinism. We are all shocked by what we’ve read about the treatment of female engineers at Uber, but almost every woman in tech has a story of her own.

The only way to make sure that tech is a welcoming place for women is to ensure that leaders are involved in looking out for and correcting behavior that undermines female employees, creating a culture where women know that they are free to bring issues forward, where they are rewarded for having the same drive and passion that we value in our rock-star male employees. Human Resources plays an important role, but the Senior Leadership Team must talk the talk and walk the walk.

Mentoring is critical, sponsorship is even better. If you are a tech executive, I challenge you to find a talented and promising woman in your company to sponsor. Make it your mission to ensure that she gets a seat at the right tables, gets introduced to people who can advise her and inspire her, that you help her strategize a way through the roadblocks in the way of her success. I guarantee that the impact of your doing this will be exponential and reach far beyond just the one woman you sponsor.

Lessons from the Smart Cities Competition


Barbary Brunner, CEO

I want to tell you a story about Austin’s journey along the smart cities road.

Late last winter, the Obama administration announced a U.S. Department of Transportation Smart Cities competition. The prize was $50 million put up by the U.S. DOT and Vulcan Ventures, to be applied to starting the process of transforming our metropolitan area transportation systems in a way that would benefit all residents, solve existing traffic and transportation problems, address clean air and land issues, and could be a transportation model for the future that might be pushed out to other cities across the country.

I would argue that there was an even bigger potential win here. That relatively paltry $50 million in prize money would no doubt attract subsequent hundreds of millions–potentially billions–of dollars in private investment around autonomous vehicles, smart transportation, and other solutions that would be invested in the region of the city that won this competition.

Now, if you’re a proud Austinite, you would look at what we’ve got going on here: we have a great tech community, we have innovative thought leaders, as a community we have a deep desire to solve the various social issues that plague us; we have, as you have experienced the last few days, a wicked traffic and public transportation problem that we are all anxious to solve for, a politically progressive City Hall, an exceptionally thoughtful Chief Innovation Officer at the City, Google self driving cars were already cruising the streets of parts of our city, and our deep history in what I like to call the guts and plumbing of the tech industry make us the perfect fit for figuring out and building technology solutions for smart cities.

78 cities entered the competition. Austin was one of the seven finalists, along with Pittsburgh, Portland, Denver, Columbus, Kansas City, and San Francisco. If you lived in Austin, you looked at that list and you thought, our only real competition is San Francisco. Right. Well, we lost. Columbus won. Columbus.

They won because that city has an unprecedented history of collaboration between city government, higher education, social service organizations, philanthropy, and private enterprise. Even before the competition was over, they had secured commitments from private enterprise to add money to the prize winnings in order to up the ante in terms of what could be done in Columbus to solve their city’s transportation problems.

It wasn’t that Austin didn’t have smart ideas in our plan. And it wasn’t that we don’t have good intentions in this city. It isn’t even that we don’t have the ability to create a compelling strategy and vision and execute on it. It’s that we didn’t have the right partners at the table fully participating in the conversation.

At one point, The Austin group was even talking about the smart phone being the device of the future. Now for everyone in this room who is a technologist, and probably for everyone in this room who just uses a smart phone on a daily basis, you know that the smart phone was the device of the future 20 years ago. What we really needed to be talking about on the technology side is how the Internet of things, big data, Bluetooth and similar near and mid range technologies, smaller wearable devices, and the communication between all of these, need to come together in order to create a network of systems that work in harmony to literally and figuratively move people of all income levels forward.

What we needed on the thought leadership side was to have the big leaders in private industry technology innovation at the table formulating Austin’s plan. Because committed technology thought leaders can affect remarkable and remarkably quick change when called to duty to solve problems. A great example of this is Andy Tryba, CEO and founder of Crossover and Co-Founder of Ride Austin.

Andy lead a team of folks who stepped up to the plate to create Ride Austin when we lost Uber and Lyft last May. Now, Ride Austin isn’t perfect yet, and as you know we had an outage last night, but they fixed the problem quickly, and Andy publicly handled it with great honesty and decency. It’s this sort of innovative thinking, quick response, and care for the community that is the hallmark of Austin’s tech leaders, and this is why they need to be engaged in creating soution

So, as a nonprofit trade industry association, what is ATC’s role in all this? Well, after the Uber and Lyft debacle of last May, we founded a Policy Coalition. We stocked it with some of the most thoughtful technology leaders in town as well as critical community leaders in the co-working and incubation space. We set about building a great relationship with City Council. And we are still working on that; there are some bruises from City Council’s last go around with tech, and we are collectively working to build bridges and trust.

But it is only together that we can only move Austin forward. And that, above anything else, is the role that a technology industry association should fill in a community. Collaborating all of the right partners together to create solutions, and to ensure that tech has a seat at the table, not just because we deserve it, but because we can provide critical, forward-thinking innovative thought leadership.

We should be, and at ATC we are, thinking about the future vision and strategy for Austin’s tech ecosystem, and how that coordinates with the overall strategy for Austin moving forward. Bringing the right leaders to the table, not just from tech and City Hall, but from other parts of private industry, philanthropy, social services, and higher education. It’s a great lesson we learning from the city of Columbus, and that’s the journey that we are embarking on at ATC this year.

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