Audrey Russo
Audrey Russo-President and CEO, Pittsburgh Technology Council

We know that artificial intelligence, voice, robotics and the next wave of automation are moving into our worlds in pronounced ways. So then why are we still talking about the jobs of today being the jobs of tomorrow? They are not. They will not be. While we are working feverishly to fill the scarcity in software engineering and computer science and developing early engagement across the sciences, we are reminded that we are living in the most rapidly altering times (Moore’s Law) and, as a result, we do not have a decade to predict the jobs of tomorrow. 

There are few things we also know:

• Repetitive functions of jobs will be automated. 

• Companies that create the most new jobs are those companies who are under 10 years old and employ less than 100 people (Kauffman). 

• The number of “jobs” per person over the course of a 30-year employment will be at least eight. 

• The number of people behind the Millennials headed into the workforce has increased by x. And they have lived only as wireless digital nomads.

• The cost of college education has become inaccessible for too many. 

• The role of community colleges is a critical pathway. 

• Applied learning is the only way to master skills. 

• The technology divide is growing wider despite the ubiquity.

• Mastery of a skill is continuous, not static.

• Science matters.

• Art matters.

• Interpersonal skills and collaboration are inherent in all roles. No person contributes alone.

• Impact matters.

• Diversity is required. 

Obvious? Ten years ago, we knew that jobs were changing and entrepreneurship is a requisite skill. We knew that children were entering kindergarten with disparate access to technology. We also knew that our population has been pretty evenly split between girls and boys.  

Jump ahead a decade and we still wrestle with women and minorities leading Fortune 1000 companies. There is a negligible representation of women and minorities receiving venture capital. There is slow progress on women in board seats for public companies (although our region has made this a priority through a few initiatives). The representation of women leading tech- and innovation-based startups remains low. Less than five percent of all venture capital supports women starting companies. 

We have certainly (and excitedly) seen a recent surge of women represented in our civil service and non-profit leadership. Women now lead The Pittsburgh International Airport, The Pittsburgh Port Authority, Allegheny Conference on Community Development, The Beuhl Foundation, August Wilson Center, The World Affairs Council, as well as the long-standing executives at the Children’s Museum, Vibrant Pittsburgh, Leadership Pittsburgh, Women and Girl’s Foundation, Catalyst Connection and the African American Chamber of Commerce. 

We have even seen a more representative engagement in those seeking public office. But in technology and entrepreneurship, we struggle with executive leadership and founders who represent 50% of our population. Therein lies complexity. While the transformation of Pittsburgh at the macro level has leap frogged over a decade, we remain a place where women and minorities are on the sidelines. This is not the reputation we want. This is not the new Pittsburgh we are planning. 

As a result, our work at the Pittsburgh Technology Council requires that we listen to our members. Executives say the pipeline for talent is not only competitive, but also scarce, and seeking diversity compounds these issues. Women earn 57 percent of all bachelor degrees. For the past 40 years, women have out numbered men attending four-year schools. Yet, the representation in executive leadership and entrepreneurial businesses remains less than 10 percent. With the region still not growing in population, scarcity remains the operant word for talent attraction. We are all seeking the best people to work on our teams. And we all want to ensure that our teams reflect our demographics. We cannot be competitive if we do not represent the communities and our customers. 

We decided to embark upon a program, in partnership with Christy Uffelman, called EDGE (http://www.pghtech.org/events/edge-womens-leadership-development.aspx). This nine-month program is intended for women who are mid-career and are in disciplines, which are in technology and innovation or support these functions inside a corporation. This program is not didactic in its methods. Instead, the work is focused on developing skills, which create profound changes in navigating one’s career, relationships, harnessing the power of networks, self -determination and partnerships. While each cohort is limited to women, the work includes participation with men who are executives. Networks fortify career development. Learning how to cultivate these networks results in powerful transformations.  

We are committed to figure out ways to cultivate the pipeline for tomorrow’s work. We are passionate about trying new ways to accelerate leadership. The pace of change requires distinct iteration of engagement. Join us in changing the landscape for opportunities and representation of the next generation of leadership.