Tech Bloc Hiring Chief Talent Officer for SA’s Tech Industry

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A Tech Bloc banner is hung in Southerleigh. Photo by Scott Ball.

A Tech Bloc banner is hung in Southerleigh during its launch party in May 2015.

San Antonio will be the first city in the United States to take the bold step of hiring a recruiter for the city’s tech industry. Tech Bloc is pursuing a chief talent officer (CTO) to recruit talent on behalf of all technology companies across San Antonio.

To apply for the position, click here.

Typically, a chief talent officer is a senior level executive responsible for talent recruitment and development for a major corporation. However, no city to date has ever hired a CTO to help recruit talent for an entire industry. Online searches yield only the chief talent officer for the city of Detroit who recruits internally for the city’s management positions.

The Tech Bloc CTO will focus on the development, recruitment, and placement of tech talent inside San Antonio-based companies, providing a single-point-of-contact and coordination for the hiring of IT workers, employers, and educators in San Antonio, according to Tech Bloc CEO David Heard. The local tech advocacy group pitched this concept to both Bexar County and the City of San Antonio, working closely with the City’s Economic Development Department (EDD) to ask City Council for seed funding for the new position.

Heard estimates salary and startup materials for two years would cost about $300,000. The Bexar County Commissioner’s Court will meet July 25 to approve $150,000 to fund the position, with the City matching funds soon afterward.

The plan is for the position to become self-supporting over time. Heard described a membership program that would spread the costs of recruitment over hundreds of startups, small businesses, and large businesses benefiting from the CTO’s services.

Tech Bloc Founding Member David Heard.

Courtesy of Josh Huskin / PechaKucha San Antonio.

Tech Bloc Founding Member David Heard.

“We plan on raising private funding to complement the membership program so that after two years, this becomes a self-sustaining revenue model,” he said.

“I think [this new Tech Bloc position] will help broaden our reach for finding hard-to-find hires,” Geekdom Fund co-founder Michael Girdley said. “Given our talent gap for tech here, we need this initiative badly.”

While many agree there is ample tech talent in San Antonio, the city needs a sustainable pipeline, one that can match the growth in the local tech industry.

“Great cities and great industries are built on great talent,” Bexar County Economic Development Department Executive Director David Marquez said. “We have an abundance of talent across our community, but sometimes opportunity and preparation don’t naturally intersect.

“The result is we either starve the company [that] is looking or we frustrate the individuals who want to stay and use their talents in the local market.”

The critical issue has become sourcing local companies’ needs for specific types of talent in a timely manner.

“What this position will  enable us to do is to collect data on the jobs most in demand, to inform us on what skills sets are most needed,” EDD  director Rene Dominguez said. “The data collected will help the City align training programs and the educational system so as the industry changes we can keep up with this demand and forecast talent needs.”

“For the first time, our community is working together through Tech Bloc on how to address the building of a deeper base of tech talent for San Antonio,” Heard said. “This was driven from the input we have received – that lack of access to tech talent is our number one impediment to growth.”

Aimee Hoyt, who responsible for talent recruitment at Rackspace, will chair the Tech Bloc CTO advisory board, which will include other talent officers from local companies such as H-E-B and USAA. The advisory board will provide the new CTO insights on specific talent development needs and on the strategic hires most crucial both in the short and long term.

The groundbreaking approach of creating the position of chief talent officer for the city’s entire tech ecosystem is a reflection of San Antonio’s unique, collaborative nature, Geekdom CEO Lorenzo Gomez said.

80/20 Foundation Head Lorenzo Gomez gives relevant examples of how tech can succeed in this San Antonio.

Scott Ball / Rivard Report

Geekdom CEO Lorenzo Gomez.

“No ecosystem is perfect, but in general everyone here is rowing in the same direction – that is the competitive advantage that we have here in San Antonio,” Gomez said. “I think in more developed ecosystems, silos develop. Second and third tier cities should consider adopting this model to attract talent for its regional industry.”

“If you’re a Tier 2 or Tier 3 city, you need to get creative,” Heard said. “Access to talent is always at the top of everyone’s list. We’ve already had tech leaders in both Colorado Springs and Austin reaching out to us. They are considering replicating this [model] in their communities.”

An affiliate partner with Tech Bloc, the San Antonio Economic Development Foundation has also been working closely with Heard and others over the past year to bring the vision to fruition.

“Our business and economic development community’s support of concepts and positions like this makes San Antonio unique and better positions us to compete for top companies around the world,” SAEDF President and CEO Jenna Saucedo-Herrera said.

 

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