Megan Smith, who served as the nation’s third chief technology officer in the Obama administration’s Office of Science and Technology Policy, was in Atlanta Nov. 29 as part of a 50-city tour across the country designed to get more people interested in technology careers.
As part of her Tech Jobs Tour, Smith, a former Google Inc. vice president, also visited Georgia Tech’s Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) to learn about the incubator and meet some of its portfolio companies.
Smith, who is an advisor to the Tech Jobs Tour, also learned how ATDC has been a catalyst in attracting entrepreneurs and others with skills that are applicable to the technology field not only in Atlanta, but elsewhere in the state, including Savannah, Augusta, and Athens.
“Today there are 500,000 jobs open in the United States in the tech sector in digital marketing or front end and back end developing, user interface design and product management — all kinds of jobs,” Smith said. “People culturally don’t think they belong in those jobs, yet companies, both locally and all over the country, are starving and need these entrepreneurs.”
The tour — Atlanta is stop No. 24 — is aims to not only get more people thinking about technology careers, but also encourage and inspire underrepresented communities such as women, racial and ethnic minorities, gays and lesbians, and people from rural communities to see themselves in tech.
ATDC, which is the state of Georgia’s technology incubator and runs its programming statewide, has a broad portfolio of companies that are led or owned by diverse teams.
As a state-supported incubator, Smith, now CEO of shift7 — an effort dedicated to community organizing around innovation for impact and economic inclusion — said she was impressed by ATDC’s legacy of success.
“ATDC is a flagship program for incubating and accelerating companies and has been doing so for decades, which is great,” she said. “What’s so special about what we learned here is that the state of Georgia is fueling this together with the whole entrepreneurial community that’s here not only in Atlanta but in a lot of other places across the state like Macon and Savannah. This is great stuff.”