Exec Spin: What's Ahead in 2018
Wednesday, January 31, 2018
Posted by: Julia Kanouse
Julia Kanouse, CEO, ITA
With the first month of 2018 ending and my one-year anniversary as CEO of ITA approaching, I have been reflecting on the role ITA plays in the Chicago tech ecosystem and why I am so thankful to be leading this organization.
While the government labels us as one, ITA is not a traditional trade association. Over the past five years, ITA has become a vibrant services organization. Our 500-member companies take advantage of programs and services that help them attract and retain talent, raise the visibility of their brand locally and nationally, and provide a community in which to partner, network and collaborate to drive growth.
Most importantly, ITA is the communal watering hole of growth and enterprise tech companies in Chicago. We are where local tech leaders connect and develop. Having spent the past twelve years in the association space, I have seen how a community can build business and whole-heartedly believe that innovation happens when disciplines, industries, ideas and cultures intersect.
ITA is the platform that brings growth-stage tech companies together to make new connections, curate knowledge and catalyze the collective impact our community. In 2018, we are excited to be bringing innovative programming to the community to help further this mission. From education on equity negotiation for emerging female leaders to a hands-on industrial IoT lab in partnership with Intel to a Jeffersonian-style dinner for HR leaders, we ensure everyone within our member organizations has a chance to engage.
2018 will bring increased focus on professional development opportunities for our members with more courses and more topics, covering subjects such as new manager training, PMP certification, advanced sourcing techniques, blockchain and more. Because attracting and retaining talent, primarily diverse talent remains one of our members' most significant challenges, we're proud to be launching TechForward, the philanthropic arm of ITA. TechForward was created to address the workforce shortage in the tech industry and identify diverse talent to meet industry needs; its mission is to build the next generation of industry leaders.
TechForward will bring together individuals, corporations and other foundations to make strategic investments in organizations that are committed to expanding STEM education. We'll ensure the funds go where they are needed most and will make the most powerful impact; to innovative organizations that, with a little investment, can make an immense influence.
That last statement is a poignant one and applies to everything we do and stand for at ITA - that with just a little investment you can make (and have) a sizable effect. We often say that ITA is like a health club - what you get out depends on what you put in. If you haven't engaged with us lately, start small - attend a few programs; get to know the staff and our volunteer leaders. Find an area you are passionate about and lean in, join us as a champion for Chicago tech.
Given our membership, ITA is also the leading organization driving the growth of our tech community. Our companies are the ones that are hiring, growing the tax base and creating a lasting impact on the future of Chicago. The ITA team is pushing the mission of Chicago as a tech center, a task that supports all our companies growth. The more members we have, the stronger we are as a voice and the more we can do for the community collectively.