Frank Speaks at Women of Technology Panel and Big Dream Screening

On Thursday, Feb 27 in OMSI’s Empirical Theater, Frank Helle (Axian CEO) in his role as Chairman of the Board of the Technology Association of Oregon addressed an assembly of 275 women in technology and young women considering education and careers in technology. He shared that TAO’s vision for Oregon is an “innovation economy” with TAO acting as a catalyst for economic growth and job creation. What’s limiting our tech industry’s growth today is a shortage of talent. He encouraged young women to consider careers in technology because such jobs pay twice the state average, only 20% of our tech workforce is women, and gender pay disparity is not an issue in tech the way it sometimes is in other fields. The solution to our talent shortage is get young women interested in STEM careers before they leave high school and to “sell” them on fact that tech careers are right for them.

He shared that TAO is executing on a two-pronged approach focused on developing innovation skill sets (STEM education) and innovation mindsets:

  1. Growing our own talent pipeline by supporting STEM education for K-12 via the recently formed TAO Foundation to support programs like Innovation Academy, ChickTech, First Robotics, etc
  2. Encouraging innovation with a new initiative called “innovate/Oregon” involving collaboration among civic, corporate, and talent development communities in our region

Frank ended with a set of challenges to women in technology and young women considering such careers:

  • “Get out of your comfort zones” because in an innovation-based economy the rate of change requires more risk-taking and the need to resist tendencies to seek perfectionism
  • “Raise your hand” and assert yourself and volunteer to take on more responsibilities and gain more visibility
  • “Engage in more networking”
  • “Get a mentor”
  • Don’t be intimidated by yours or others’ pre-conceived notions that tech education and careers are for guys only

Off the Record: The Women of Tech and Big Dream Screening