Audrey Russo

When this issue of TEQ is released, it will be at our annual Chief Information Officer (CIO) awards.

While the work of a CIO is filled with complex responsibilities, which range from support to architectural roadmaps paired with cost containment and innovation tied to business outcomes, this role also is tasked with ensuring people development – talent attraction and retention. While the work of tech inside corporations of every size is considered the top driver of differentiation in products and services, we all know that it’s the people who enhance the performance of any and all tools. Surely efficiency has resulted in changes of the work we all do. CIOs are also wrestling with the attraction of people who have very different skills and views on work.

Specifically, it is not a luxury to have a workplace that does not reflect the demographics of customers. Paradoxically, the quest for more diverse employees in “tech” remains a dilemma. In our region, as people remain in the workforce longer, we are not alone in seeking people who are reflective of the integral fabric of our community. That tech is now under heightened scrutiny for not being “inclusive,” the amount of inertia in our own region to figure out how to punch through our accountability is actually emphatically present. We have seen the work of Red Chair Pittsburgh, Black Tech Nation and Vibrant Pittsburgh articulate the imperative of inclusion, we also see how Carnegie Mellon has ensured that equal representation in admission in computer science has reached gender parity in this most recent class.

Our corporate community has its own strategies in ensuring talent attraction and retention for diverse representation in tech, both internally and externally. The leaders of our community, both public and private, are holding public conversations about our need to accelerate our performance and figure out how to solve these gaps. We have an interesting collision right now in the world of work. We are seeing: more tech and innovation changing our expectations as both consumers and employees; more transparency and hesitation about our data and privacy; greater demand on efficiency and connectedness; AND newer skills that many of us still need to acquire.

Pittsburgh has a small window of time to grab the attention of the world and be a place where people want to live. Not just work. Work can often be done anywhere. Not for all of us, but for those with skills in high demand.

The jobs we are holding today are not the jobs of tomorrow. Repetitive tasks are automated. Open work environments must be coupled with privacy. Collaboration is required for everything. Individual contributions are the sum of high-performing teams. Subject matter wizardry is valued, but it is not the means to a highly functioning team. Culture cannot be standardized; while we all seek to achieve fluid, self-driving outcomes, the fragility of imminent disruption plagues every company. Consumers look to eradicate unnecessary middle layers, hoping to save money and time. These are intense times in the workplace.

We live in a period of demand for autonomy with the fervor of connectedness. This shapes our expectations of work and non-work. How we spend our time is more fluid than ever; personal time bleeds into work. And with this fluidity and access, means that work environments and culture matter, but what tops all is place – where we live and how we live.

Pittsburgh has a small window of time to grab the attention of the world and be a place where people want to live. Not just work. Work can often be done anywhere. Not for all of us, but for those with skills in high demand. If we do not have a collective priority in being a place that represents the diverse America, then our region slips in our attraction of great talent. Therein lies our dilemma. We attract diverse people from all over the world to be educated here. If our communities do not reflect diversity, the likelihood of Pittsburgh being a place to live, is less attractive. It is the collision of our own people and those who have newer lenses that will make this a region that embraces change, welcomes the new and anchors us with those who have been here for generations.

I am excited to be living and working in Pittsburgh. Our work at the Tech Council affords us front row seats to these changes. The CIOs who are being honored are immersed in the rapid demands that this new world affords us. Check out these leaders profiled inside this issue. They may be your neighbor, your friend or a colleague. They are working to attract the next generation of people to work with them. They are building pathways for students through internships, investment in STEM programs and volunteering themselves in an array of community groups. Applaud them. They, too, are making Pittsburgh a place for people to live and work.