Exec Spin: Talent Unlimited
Thursday, November 1, 2018
Posted by: Gary Hotze
Julia Kanouse, CEO, ITA
Chris Gladwin and Penny Pritzker recently launched an ambitious initiative, dubbed P33, to make Chicago a top-tier tech hub. This major tech initiative has many components that aim to raise Chicago's tech profile, something that ITA has at the core of its mission, as well. One of the main focuses in P33 is talent attraction to and retention in Chicago. Talent is a crucial and vital part of the ITA platform for both us and our membership. In light of this significant recent announcement, we thought we would reach out to some of the members of our Talent Advisory Board to do a round-up of what they would do if they had unlimited funds to attract and retain talent in Chicago. In other words: if you were in charge of an economic development initiative to get talent here and money was of no concern, what would you do?
“One of the best ways to attract new talent to Chicago is to provide prospective workers with a blank canvas to live out their entrepreneurial passions. Employees at Relativity have the autonomy to solve complex data challenges and potentially build their businesses on top of our platform. With additional funds, we would be able to further invest in the exciting entrepreneurial projects and businesses of our current and past employees so that we can continue to grow the vibrant Chicago tech ecosystem from the inside.”
- Matt Garvey, Director, Talent Acquisition, Relativity
"Talent Recruitment is one thing, but I believe the focus should be on a broader investment in developing local talent. From primary school through university, evolve programs at the forefront of STEM fields that grow local talent and keep them here. When I relocate people from the coasts, they have a desire to be "home" - they often left to get the education needed to do the job they want.
Another great initiative would be a showcase or conference around Chicago tech. Dreamforce takes over San Francisco - everyone is involved in it. While that is for a specific company, we don’t have anything similar here that highlights Chicago tech and draws people from across the country to learn and share.
Finally - transportation. The Blue Line is already collapsing, and most of the city's growth is along that line. Further and deep investment in infrastructure and transit would be critical. Dare we say WiFi on train lines?"
Also, a free winter coat program for tech workers because "winter isn't that bad."
- Jim Conti, People Lead, dscout
"For me, it starts early with education. Illinois was so far behind on dual enrollment legislation (1/1/2019). I’d love for Illinois to embrace and support a dual enrollment educational model. Dual enrollment ensures high school students not only take associate’s degree classes but graduate with an associate’s degree while getting decent paying positions and training with corporate partners, who support completing their higher degrees. This support leaves little student debt and more money in the economy from young people who aren’t worried about just surviving. My nephews in Seattle (two decades ago) graduated with associate’s degrees in Computer Science and went straight to work with Microsoft. Both are extremely successful tech leaders with their own companies.
Additionally, something I really love is a great state-wide STEM coalition of business, education and civic leaders developing 'experiences' for student of all ages. Again, knowledge is power and being able to see and feel what is possible opens up kids minds to explore and opens up opportunities for business to help grow these kids into future employees. Colorado has a good model for this.
Moreover, Illinois is a very costly place to live, especially for younger graduates- something really needs to be done for people starting out- tax incentives, housing co-ops/partnerships with business, etc. I’d also like Illinois to pass paid Family & Medical Leave like New York or California. In looking at other states, few boast a higher concentration of STEM workers than Michigan which has a robust and successful workforce training program as do Arizona and Massachusetts. The STEM talent development models in these states are something to model here regionally.
Lastly, the IRS just passed the 401k match to student loan benefit, but what if we were just allowed to match that money directly into their student loan, helping them pay it off quicker?”
- Colleen D. Egan, Director of People, Culture & Endless Possibilities, Clarity Partners, LLC