Tech council names board chairman as its new CEO
After a national search for a new leader, the board of directors of the Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council has named its former chairman as president and CEO of the organization. Robert McAden also will lead the Roanoke-Blacksburg Innovation Network. He succeeds Jonathan Whitt, who resigned from the job last November.
McAden has been involved with RBTC since its inception. He’s been on its board for more than three years and became chairman in 2015.
McAden also has served on the boards of NuSpark, a free workspace for fledgling entrepreneurs, and the RAMP Accelerator, an organization that has turned an old hospital building into a center that helps startup tech companies grow.
“So I have a lot of experience in the kind of nonprofit, public-sector kind of thing,” McAden says.
He’s also been in the technology field since the 1980s. For more than 13 years, he worked at Rackspace, a cloud-computing company with customers in 120 countries.
Before that, McAden worked at some small tech consulting firms and some not-so-small ones, including Oracle and Bearing Point.
McAden expects to see “companies having almost farm teams” outside of traditional high-tech centers where “they’re having to pay extremely high wages. They have employees who are having a hard time finding places to live. And then they’ve got the problem of really high turnover. Once you land someone, it’s not uncommon for them to leave six months later because they found a better offer.”
McAden also expects to see more companies being spun out of Virginia Tech and the Virginia Tech-Carilion Research Institute. He predicts that trend will attract more venture capital to the region.
“The economic development model is changing in a lot of ways,” he says. “How do we help people who have ideas here and create companies and jobs right here locally?”