The Roanoke Times recently sat down with our new president and CEO, Robert McAden and asked him a few questions. Read an excerpt of the interview below or the full interview at Roanoke.com:
Roanoke Times: What can we expect from RBTC next year?
The RBTC has grown over time into the premiere regional organization for the New River Valley and the Roanoke Valley. We really are successful in bringing folks from both of those regions together. First and foremost, I want to honor that tradition and grow that tradition. It’s a great legacy. I want to make sure we sustain and continue. Beyond that, I really would like to find ways that we can provide connections to people within our member companies across their employment base, whether it’s a software engineer or it’s someone who’s working on cybersecurity or a research assistant in a lab. How do we provide opportunities for those people to get together and share their experiences? …
I’m not an expert in all of those areas so I want them to be able to get together, to connect and learn from each other. And to create those connections. I think companies in this area will tell you one of their biggest problems is talent attraction and talent retention. One of the best ways to retain talent is to create connections between people. When people are connected to each other and connected to the area, they tend to stay. That’s a big piece of the puzzle we need to solve.
Roanoke Times: Is networking the most important thing the council does?
Providing connections is definitely the most important thing we do. We are a membership organization, but beyond that it’s advocating on behalf of our member companies in the region. It’s being a voice. I participate in things. The city has a group working on the innovation corridor; I participate in that. One of the things I really want to make sure we do is [have] all of the various organizations that are working on economic development and other areas working together. That we are all augmenting what we are doing. I know the Roanoke [Regional] Partnership has got a big drive on talent retention and talent recruitment, so I don’t want to duplicate their efforts. I want to augment that and understand the unique challenges that our technology community is facing in that area and how we can help them address that issue. Really reaching out to all of our partners and our peers in the area to make sure we are aligned and working together.
Roanoke Times: What are the biggest issues facing tech companies here?
Talent is the biggest factor. That’s driven by a lot of different things. How do we help if someone is trying to recruit someone from Silicon Valley and has a significant other that’s also looking for a job? How do we help publicize our opportunities here, and how do we help market opportunities that exist in the area? In the New River Valley, child care is often challenging. So how do we help the NRV and the people that are focused on that issue with that problem? How do we help them solve that problem? Across the New River and Roanoke valleys, how do we help entrepreneurs succeed? A big part of our membership is entrepreneurs. So we offer free membership to tech companies that have less than 10 employees, but how do we help them grow…