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The Changing Landscape of Tech Leadership

Audrey Russo, President and CEO, Pittsburgh Technology Council

With events like the Pittsburgh CIO of the Year Awards, the Tech Council always looks for reasons to celebrate. We do that to ensure that the region and beyond know about the companies, the people and the tech that makes our worlds move. 

As always, it is an exciting night where after many weeks of preparation, capturing personal stories and setting the stage for a festive yet noteworthy evening, the team at the Tech Council, remains steadfast at making such an event filled with honor and humility. The CIOs and CISOs and additional categories of Trailblazers remind me that the magic of keeping companies high performing is truly resting on the shoulders of technology employees. 

If you joined us and our 600 friends of the information technology community at our 18th CIO of the Year Awards, you would have witnessed all the companies who knit together this region, you would have been proud to know that the people who keep the momentum are also your neighbors, volunteers, civic minded investors, school volunteers, neighbors and many who relocated to Pittsburgh to build their lives. And they, too, provide the care and feeding of building Pittsburgh. 

With the proliferation of artificial intelligence (AI), this too, has added to the roles and responsibilities of leaders in IT. It is not as if AI has not been in use for decades, instead we have seen the seismic shift that AI now falls into everyone’s hands. With it come new requirements and guardrails, many of which are newly founded. AI has begun to change the language of the job landscape across various industries, including IT. CIOs are being tasked with protection, performance and cost control. They keep us safe, ensure high-quality access and no down time, paired with reducing year-over-year costs, all the while keeping abreast of trends. 

Simultaneously, new employees come to work with expectations of the same, including autonomy, development and access to the best tools. During our pre-event for the CIO of the Year Awards, we held a happy hour, having a chance to catch up with these executives before the main event. 

A prevailing theme emerged in our conversations: these are both exciting and demanding times for the industry. The term “AI” seemed to be omnipresent, with many organizations actively seeking ways to leverage this technology to drive efficiencies in their businesses. Additionally, we observed that despite being two years post-COVID, market conditions continue to pose challenges and add stress. 

The executives we spoke with expressed that they are continuously navigating a frenetic landscape, managing budgets, compliance, hiring, and exploring new technological frontiers. This dynamic environment demands that everyone becomes a lifelong learner, adapting to the pressures exerted by customers, shareholders and employees.

Perhaps there will be another name for the era of post Covid. A time of self-reflection, sure. A time when as individuals and as members of the workforce, we began to question the meaning of work, collaboration, personal time and lifestyle. Pair that with the acceleration of AI into all of our hands that we bring this next inflection point of technology and innovation.

All of this has CIOs and CISOs building additional competencies. For many, this makes the time we work exhilarating. For others, they question what kind of work they do and how they work. Executives in tech and overseeing tech in companies find themselves at an inflection point as well. Which is why, our work at the Tech Council, keeping these leaders’ connective tissue outside the walls of their day to day is important. Plus, there is no better way to celebrate. Check out this year’s stars in this issue.