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Celebrating One Year of Business as Usual with Huntington Bank

Business as Usual

We couldn't be more excited to celebrate one year of Business as Usual with our partner and sponsor Huntington Bank!

Join us as Huntington Bank's Susie Shipley, President of the Western Pennsylvania and Ohio Valley Region, turns the tables and interviews Audrey Russo, PTC President, CEO and Business as Usual Host, about the direction of Pittsburgh's tech ecosystem as we move into the future.

Plus, GiftYa CEO and PTC Board Chair Jason Wolfe will announce that we are giving away six $100 GiftYas to audience members. These GiftYas can be used at either Big Burrito Group restaurants, Eat'n Park restaurants, Primanti Bros. or Sheetz. The winners get to pick.



So good afternoon, everyone. This is Audrey, President and CEO of the Pittsburgh Technology Council. Thank you for joining us today. Today is a special session of business as usual, though we're just a bit over our one year mark. It really is our one year we've done about 236 of these interviews, and I can't believe how quickly time has flown. We just wanted to take the time to look forward to maybe reflect a little bit about the year. But we're joined today with my good friend and colleague and partner Susie Shipley from Huntington bank. She's the president of Western pa in the Ohio Valley region. If you don't know her, you need to get to know her. She's not only doing work leading this region's bank, but she's also actively involved in civic community and deeply cares. So we are really, really excited to sort of flip the tables a little bit. But before we turn the reins over to Susan, we're joined by Pittsburgh Technology Council, board chair, and good friend, Jason wolf. He has served as the very first guest of business as usual as we pivoted and over a year ago, but he's also running incredible companies serial entrepreneur. And he too, is really deeply passionate about this region and the community and does whatever he can to make sure that people can you know, sit on his shoulders and launch themselves as well. So we are going to have some opening remarks from Jason and then Susie is going to take the reins as I mentioned, and we are going to have some giveaways we like doing giveaways are so much fun. And they made possible by gift Chuck and Huntington bank. So Jason

Hey, Audrey, how you doing? It's great to be here. So everybody you're gonna hear from Susie today, Susie Shipley at Huntington has been a great supporter of the tech Council. Looking forward to hearing from her today. I can't believe it's 236 episodes, Audrey. I mean, I can remember, after a couple months of talking to you about this, I said so what's the end game? When is this gonna be over? Here we are a year later, we're still doing it. You know what you're keeping people connected. In this region and beyond. I think that's so important today with the way that we're operating and everybody's disconnected to bring some some normalcy and some connected ness together. And I just want to say thank you to you and Jonathan and Brian, the team at the PTC for doing this for the region has been great. I did the first episode a year ago, a lot of things have changed since then, you know, a lot of companies have gone bankrupt, mostly offline companies. But my opinion with the PPC PPP money that we were able to get and weren't technology, we actually saw a huge growth. Since we talked, it was a initial three to four month construction for us, because we were shocked weren't sure what we're gonna do. We had some cuts and some cutbacks. But since then we have grown by 277%, over 219 2018 2022. Had a great year went from 12 million to 32 million. Sounds great. So but I think there's a new reality that's going to be at play here. I think, with zoom and Slack, daily, we're on here I have a building here that's sitting fairly empty, other than we opened up our fulfillment center, this is going to be the new norm, there's gonna be some sort of a hybrid, I believe model of this going forward. And then the challenge is culture, right? So what, how do you keep people culturally connected, when you're not with them, that's going to be a challenge. And I'm looking forward to 2021 and 2022, to see how, especially technology companies change and evolve into sort of a hybrid model to try to keep people engaged and keep culture within the company because sadly, I think that potentially you can have a higher turnover rate because people are not feeling connected with their their employees and their co workers. So, that being said, We're pleased today to to announce that we're going to be part of the giveaway. So we're giving six, a gift is away and so gift you you don't know what it is it's a you take your Visa card, you link it to the gift you you swipe your Visa card at the restaurant location, and then we credit your Visa card with the gift so you no longer losing your gift that can't get stolen, you won't be forgotten. And it's sort of like Venmo gifting and we launched it here in Pittsburgh in partnership with big burrito and Eden Park and permit these and sheets. We're very happy to be able to be a part of that. And so that's it. I'm looking forward to seeing what happens in 2021 the rest of the year. And I just want to say huge kudos to Audrey and her team for keeping us all connected. Hopefully, you know, I say, what's the end game maybe a year from now I'll be back on we'll talk about this again. And we're two years into it.

Thank you, and you want to pass the baton to Susie.

And so with that being said, I'm gonna pass it to Susie Shipley, again, a huge supporter of the tech Council. I'm very much interested in listening to what she has to say. And so that being said, You're come, Susie Shipley?

Thanks so much, Jason, I appreciate it. And thanks for your leadership with the Pittsburgh Technology Council. I mean, it is not happenstance that you were the first speaker, it's because of your involvement, not only with the council and your leadership there, but also your involvement in the community and how much you do in the community. So thank you, for everything you're doing. And thanks for your leadership. It's great to be on the program with you. So today's program, we're going to turn the tables a little bit, and we're gonna put Andriy on the hot seat. You know, we've all heard Audrey, who is the consummate person who asked the questions and hosts everyday business as usual. Well, we're going to turn the tables and ask her quite a few questions today and and learn a little bit more about Audrey and learn a little bit more about her perspectives on things as well. Because Can you really believe it's been a year it's been? It's unbelievable. But Audrey, who is a New Yorker, I should say she grew up in New York, but I think she's now a Pittsburgh, because she's been here since 2001. took over the reins of the Pittsburgh Technology Council 2007. And her leadership, and the work that her entire team has done has made such a difference in this community. But they created an ecosystem that is thriving, and frankly, growing. And there's a lot of a lot of excitement about the future. I think we're seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, at this point. So I'm very excited about this conversation today. So I do my, I want to get started. But I do want to ask you, how's it feel to be on the hot seat and turn it on? You

know, it's funny, I'm like, oh, gosh, what is she going to ask me now? She did some research. Now I'm happy to share. And usually I like other people to, to shine the light not on myself just to facilitate a way of having conversation. So, so be, you know, be tough, you can be tough.

I'm gonna start, I actually want to start with something that that's focused on business as usual, because you and your team have done an incredible job, as Jason said, of keeping people connected. You know, so can you just give us a little bit of background about how did the program get started? And what do you think was the secret sauce to for success here with this program?

Well, I gotta tell you, I just come back from California and realize that COVID was, you know, starting to have at sea legs in our region. And it was like a Wednesday, and I looked over at my team and said, You know, we're gonna have to close we're closing on Friday, it's definitely gonna happen. I see this. And we had just hosted the former new CEO at Duquesne light. And then he was getting ready to close Duquesne light like that Thursday. So, you know, it was Jonathan Bryan and myself and a few other people. And I said, you know, listen, we have to keep the community together. We can't we have to innovate or die. You know. And we, we thought, what better way we brainstormed a couple of things. And then we said, You know what, let's just get two leaders together so that we can figure this out with us soon. We'll figure out a way to do that. And we will do it for like two weeks, you know, we'll see what will happen. We talked to Jason Jason was the first one on, we have great relationships with all of our elected officials on, you know, on a bipartisan relationship. We said we'll get some of them on. We'll talk to the health department, we'll start having conversations. And soon it just started unraveling. We started to be able to map out all these relationships that we had, and said we're going to leverage them. We have relationships, Washington, DC, we have relationships in Harrisburg. We have relationships all around the world. We're just going to start leveraging that. And I'll never forget, I think Brian put in the chat. You said we were going to name it business, unusual businesses unusual or something to that. And we're sitting there like googling going, Ah, that's taken off, that's taken. We wanted to figure out a way to sort of trademark that. And then then I just said, Forget it. Let's just do business. We're just going to plow and keep doing what we really know how to do. And that's trying to have conversations with people who sometimes we don't get a chance to see but we can hear from and create some intimacy. But I've got to tell you that there was a point in time like a month into it and six weeks we were like, Are we going to still do this just like what Jason said at the beginning. Are we really going to still do the audit? When's the endgame here? I don't think there's an endgame yet. So that's sort of like the early stages of it. We had a lot of intense conversations here. I tend to surround myself with people who don't just say yes to me. They're, you know, they're pushing, they're just saying, you know, we got to, how long can we do this? We've got to change, how do we manage it, but the other piece of it, honestly, Suzy was working with you, and Kim, remember on your team, who, you know, helped us sort of craft, what this might look like, and ways to keep things together across across the community. And when the food bank was on national TV, and we were horrified. So we immediately brought the scales on and said, Lisa, you got to talk to us. And we started raising money. We started getting people that were raising money, we had staffing firms at all got together, wrote checks for like $60,000, people started to feel like they were being part of something larger. We worked with neighborhood allies in Aurora and Google and got chrome laptops. So that created like our own excitement, our own contagion about feeling that we were doing something good for outside of ourselves, you know, so that's sort of a little bit of the backdrop.

Amazing, you know, sitting around and brainstorming about it, you know, plants a seed, and here a year later, look, look at what you've done, you've not only provided a network to keep people connected, but you've also done a lot of good for the community, the larger community. So you've had a lot of great speakers, you know, what you said was 263 36, I think it's 36 236. So 236 incredible. Guests, and folks who have come to share but if you had your you know, your shortlist of dream guests, who is your dream guest and there's no, no limits.

Oh my gosh, but that's But listen, there's a tech angle to each one of these right? Number one would be Tyler Perry. I think Tyler Perry has been just incredible, in terms of what he's done over the course of his life, and how he actually has gone to Atlanta and build a community and supports others, I would love to be able to talk with him. And of course, you know, I have a mad crush on him on top of that, but he definitely would be one. Someone who I've known. And I don't know if the time is right, but I'd really like to have Sheryl Sandberg on from Facebook. And she's the CEO of Facebook, but it's just timing right now with everything going on in Congress might not be the right time. We there are people who have invested in tech that I'm pretty interested in, even though they're sort of famous and want another one is Leonardo DiCaprio. He has invested in a lot of tech companies, and he started to unravel a whole bunch of money someone put up Denzel Washington. And of course, Jonathan knows about my preoccupation with Ashton Kutcher. He also was, you know, went to school for a year as an engineer and has done a lot in the in the tech community. How's that for shortlist?

That's a pretty good start list. I mean, all of that would be amazing speakers, right? And really come at it from a lot of different angles. So we got to think about, okay, this network that's on here, you now know, Audrey's list. If anybody has connections, please let us know. Wouldn't it be great to have you be able to interview one of your dream guests?

Oh, my gosh. Let me just share one other that I'm trying to work on right now. And he's from Pittsburgh, and it's George Benson. He's a very famous guitarist. And there are people here that have known him. He's putting out a new, a new release, but he is from Pittsburgh, and I've been trying to get a hold of him.

Great list, Audrey. I mean, you get those folks lined up. This will be going on for years. So let's talk a little bit if you don't mind switching gears a little bit about technology and Pittsburgh, you know, there's the sector has impacted this region. Incredibly, it's the future part of the lifeblood of this region going forward. Just give us a quick flyover a little bit, you know, the numbers, the trends, what you're seeing.

Yeah, I mean, it's really interesting, Jonathan kersting, who's always a co host here, and he's sort of vice president of all things media and marketing. Every year we do what is a state of the industry report that sort of amalgamate data that comes from from Bureau of Labor Statistics, and you know, we look at some trends that you know, everyone looks at a different slice, right? You can look at the data that comes out of pitchbook. And why does Work with innovation works. But what's really interesting is that back in 2007, and so I'll have to jump in to correct me. But back in 2007 2008, when I really started, that the amount of people who were working in tech across our region, right in that region is pretty much, I think, eight to 10 counties. But the epicenter really being obviously in Allegheny County, and now I'm in Butler, the number of people that were working back then was probably like, 16% 16% of the workforce, okay. And less than 20% of the region's payroll, okay, but so there were high, they're highly paid people, right? If you fast forward, and the data is just starting to come out, if you fast forward to the last time we released it, we were almost stuck to a quarter, a quarter of people were working either intact, or were in tech jobs, and then about 33% of the region's payroll. So that is really significant. And it's really, um, if anything, were to happen to that population here, we would feel it, we would, and it's bigger than the number of people are actually working in this space is larger than when the steel mills were here. So you just have to sort of put that in context. And you know, there's more to that data, you know, information technology is always working on optimization. So the amount of people that you need to run a data center today is different, is less than what it was 10 years ago. But the shifting in our, in our world in terms of computer scientists and people in, you know, artificial intelligence, machine learning, natural language processing, the demand for those jobs is really high. And their salaries are really high. So what I want to say to President Biden, who's visiting somewhere here today is that we aren't we are the future. And we're here and we are keeping this region as thriving, despite the things that we discovered that over this last year, I mean, with the with the murders of Briana Taylor, and George Floyd and all the things that none of us can ever change, right that we can ever, we can never go back. Right. And we have we can't leave people behind. So you know, this is sort of the next piece of this journey is how is this population of people who are doing amazing things building? Making sure that we're being absolutely providing prosperity, pathways for people? And yeah, do you?

Do you see any changes? Or, you know, what do you see developing in terms of, you know, the ecosystem? And, you know, are there any new parts of technology that are really going to be thriving here in this region? Are there certain companies that you're seeing certain trends on that you think, as we look forward, we should be thinking about technology differently, or with a different lens?

Well, I mean, the cool thing is, is that people who work in tech and innovation are always have a different lens, right? Because we're always experimenting, and they're always iterating. So it's based on some of their core. What I'm really excited about is the fact that many of the companies that are have proliferated here, not all of them, but many of them have built on our assets. They're really built on our note on our know how. So those are companies that are tied to energy and all types of energy. Those are companies that are tied to, for example, trucking and transportation. Those are companies that are tied to, you know, even the autonomous space, right, you might say, we're not Detroit, but we actually are a place where the information of things and people who have skills on building a really huge part of our legacy. It's part of our DNA. So what I'm excited about, you know, and of course, you have those incredible outliers that are doing really well like Duolingo that, you know, very intentional Louise vahagn, very intentional on building that here and attracting people from all over the world. But you sit in Amazon working on on voice recognition. I think the exciting thing, if you look at those companies that have had outside investment in this region, it tends to be those companies that build on our assets, I do think we're going to see Finally, some real growth and traction in FinTech in financial tech. And I do see that just because of the breadth of FinTech corporations that we have here. There's included Suzy that are always there, you're looking for solutions. And some of those solutions are, you know, with internal customers as well as external customers and the demand and the margins are just Really, it's required for your performance. And us as customers were requiring it, because that's what matters to us. So I think that the nice thing about Pittsburgh is I believe that that the growth of innovation and tech will occur across almost all all verticals. But I also see the kind of technology that some people might have called Social Innovation, social innovation, you take a company like 412, Food Rescue, you take merriness analytics, they're looking at human trafficking. And these are companies that actually can be profitable, solving, incredibly, you know, solving problems that, you know, are rotting at our core in terms of our society. So I'm seeing that in, in healthcare, too. I'm seeing that I think telemedicine, we're never going backwards. Remember going backwards, we had to, you know, digitization just occurred so fast, we're never going backwards. And I think we're expecting you and I are expecting the kind of interfaces and experiences now that we didn't expect before.

I agree. I mean, what we want as consumers, right, is really changing and technology is going to play, it has played a big part in how things have changed, especially, I think, accelerated during the pandemic, you know, in the past year, it's really accelerated, and it's going to carry a lot of things going forward, we have to think differently about how to connect with people, and people who use our services, just in general, your businesses have to rethink their models, you know, as we move forward, right. So So Audrey, you look forward, what can we expect from the tech council? What's on what do you think about, you know, on the plate with the with your group?

Well, it's pretty incredible. This year, we did Jason and I did about six months of listening. We just went around and listened to CEOs, particularly after, after the murders that occurred in the black communities around the country, and started listening CEOs and founders. And what became really clear is that while at the tech Council, we were we almost feverish Lee at making sure that people from outside of the region and inside of the region know of the opportunities for jobs. But what really was really shining the light on us was the fact that there are people here, who we are either accidentally unintentionally, or intentionally leaving out. And we have decided that we are launching something called the apprentice program. And you're going to hear more about that. And our intent is to work with all the boot camps through an apprenticeship model. So that people can have opportunities to work in about 12 different skill sets, we're going to start I think in one or two, and work to get people who have graduated from high school, a GED is fine. And help position them for real opportunity. So that means that when they go and they join, and they want to let you know, go to a boot camp, and it couldn't be like even Academy Pittsburgh, we will make you know, some existing boot camps as well, we will actually make sure that that person is hired by a company before they start, before they actually start and that they will get at least minimum wage to go through the program. And at the end of the program, they are then going to work for a company. So it's not just having boot camps where people just go, right and whether they can afford it or not, we are working with the our businesses to do this. And we build a sustainable model, so that businesses can be a part of this, and that it's not so we have to go deep in the community, we have to build trust, we have to make sure that we're reaching our region, we have to make sure that you know the the amount of poverty that people live in all around our region is unacceptable. And one of the great strengths of the tech Council is that we have relationships with these corporations and these leaders in tech who want to make sure they have a workforce that represent is representative of the world. And many of them don't know how they don't know how. So we're starting and we're saying we're gonna we'll that we're gonna continue to help those companies hire some of those higher skilled folks, we will continue to do that. But now we're wrapping ourselves around this program called printing and you're going to hear more about it because we've been working trying to dot every I cross every team because it's really massive. To be able to do this and say, No, you are gonna have to make a commitment. Jonathan kersting for Your company, and you're gonna have to make a commitment that you're hiring that person now. And it's not if Jonathan, you know, at the end of the program, Jonathan goes out and has to interview now. He's going in now. And we're making commitments to people. So we will be working deep in the communities, we can't do this ourselves, we can't. And we're excited by it, we're really excited, I have an incredible team that is just passionate about trying to figure out ways that we can change, you know, change many ways, the complexion of the workforce, and in many different ways, not everyone needs to, you know, go to a four year school. And many of these skills that people will be developing are stackable, they're stackable skill sets. So you can learn this right now. Learn, you know, something else after that. And then maybe if you want to go to community college, that's awesome. We want you to do that. How about, then you want to go to college, that's fine. But we want people to get into the workforce. And, and we have heard a resounding yes. From the companies that we talked to, that they want to do this.

very forward thinking I'm not surprised, you know that this is something that's on your agenda and the agenda of your team. Because you've always found ways to reach out to the community connect with partners in the community, to to help and frankly, in this example, here, really to solve a problem. It's a problem that companies have as well as the community has. And so by doing it and connecting the across the community, the right way, you're solving and providing opportunity and hope to a lot of different people in that in that supply chain there.

And we can't do it alone. So if there are people here that are interested in this work and want to participate, you know, reach out to us, we can't we can't do this alone.

So I I have I said 1227. I don't know.

How can you believe

it? I feel like we just got started Audrey.

Are there any questions out there? Jonathan, we'll save the chat. And I can always answer people's questions.

We have a few questions that just came in, I can grab one here from let's did you get so many positive comments in the chat. It's just completely warmed my heart today. It's just really, really cool. So Leslie, Jen wants to know, um, do you think bootcamp model PTC will drive can include groups like professionals that are transitioning from careers no longer supported in the local economy?

I think essentially, at one at some point, we will, that's sort of on our path that's on our that's on our like vision map. But we will, we will definitely get there. But we're trying to, we really want to be great at this, we really, you know, so we don't want to be scattershot. We really want to be great at this. But I do think that there's going to be many, many pieces of this, these different pathways that run parallel. I think that's what you know, we'll eventually get to

excellence. And so here's another I think this is a great question. So who or what has been the most memorable program that you've got, you?

Know, program chauth included? We've had so much fun with so many people. Who did we have fun with?

Everyone brings a new angle to the show, um, I think about some folks going back like some of the restaurant folks that we had on,

yeah, they were great.

I was just like, Wow, man. So

like, I got emotionally in really, um, it was really tough after we had Lisa scales on when we did the food bank. You remember that? And we talked about it afterwards. And we were like, We have to do something. Lisa had made, you know, they had we've made national news because of the snake lines that we had going to the food bank, and it said, look at Pittsburgh, remember at the beginning of COVID. So that really sort of got me. Bill Strickland was great. Phil Strickland was

great. airline pilot.

Yeah, that was great. We had a great interview with Bill Strickland, you know, early on, but so many people have been so gracious to us. And so kind. Yes, Courtney. Bill is a legend. He's been a good friend. And a legend. Yes. So and I you know, I love talking to all these companies. I love talking to them and letting them shine the light. I know that sounds a little Pollyanna, and I don't mean it that way. But I honestly every time Jonathan and I are we afterwards we get well we didn't even know that we thought we knew stuff. We didn't even know that right Dan's reminding us about the laptops. We raised about four $100,000 with Aurora and Google to get Chrome, you know, we had drone Ben Hassan. Although that when we had to roam on Brian Kennedy told me that I was I had a mad crush on him because I kept saying his name over and over again,

recently. I must add, we actually raised a couple $1,000 to draw well, and that was pretty rad.

Right? That happened Come on. And then just been things that have just, you know, just happen that we've had a chance to just talk to people all the way. I mean, if you don't know anything about like marijuana analytics and what they're doing and human trafficking, you know, it's you just really need to get to know them. So it's been, it's been great.

Well, it's been a fabulous year. And Audrey, thank you for being a phenomenal host every single day. Thank you for your leadership. Everything that you do in this community is so impressive, and you bring a lot of people together. You have a great team, Jonathan and Brian, Alexis, the whole team, it's just a fabulous game. And you just you do such such great work. So thank you very much for pulling us all together. Jonathan, I guess it's time to talk about who our guest is tomorrow and a little bit about the SOS certificate award. So

we've got some winners here. Okay, so we've got some winners. And let's see, we have Dave demoss. Dave are you on?

The dummies?

Dave debase? There you are. All right. Hey, you are aware so Lexi will follow up with you and we'll make sure that you know how to get your What is it Jonathan one

every every winner is gonna get a $100 gift Yeah, that they can align up with a big burrito restaurants I think of like Mad Max and soba and Kaia and so forth. We got some of the eating part group which is of course is eaten Park and hello be strolling the porch. And we also have sheets and we also have primanti brothers. All these folks were part of business as usual in the past year, so we think it's really great to go there, spend 100 bucks and get some great food.

So our second winner is Emily Brewer of trust point. And hopefully Emily is still here. Yay.

She is

Kate burn of PNC Kate, are you here?

I am.

Thank you.

Okay, yes, thank you. And I really do want to just use this opportunity to say this has been a wonderful program since the beginning. And I can't tell you how many neighbors friends relatives that I've had. I've said listening you'll learn so much. And I've got a few recruits along the way. But I'm, I've appreciated it personally a lot. Thank you. Thank

you. Thank you. And then we have Peggy McGarry of towel you

pegar There she is.

Okay, so very much. Excellent program. Excellent. Um, again, I

just love seeing these comments how you're tapping new people in Pittsburgh into Pittsburgh.

It's wonderful. When I taught at Carlow. I always sent them to my tech council meeting. So it's an MBA program and they have to attend and it was always amazing to the students. What was going on here. So thank you for you. Thank you, Peggy. And then we have le Gordon le Gordon of behavior.

Le All right.

It's Ellie, here.

She is.

Yes, she is. Okay. Thank you, Ellie. Thank you. Absolutely. And then Jennifer dye shirt defense date. Jennifer here.

Yeah, I'm here. Thank you so much. And thanks for allowing me to participate in these luncheons.

They're great. Awesome. All right. Susie Shipley, you're the best. Thank you for your being such a great partner and your entire team as well for being amazing partners. So Jonathan, what's on store? Well,

tomorrow is x are connected, all things extended reality. So put you goggles on, we're gonna have a really good time. So absolutely.

That's great. All right. Thank you so much. You're the best.

Thank you, everybody. Have a great rest of your day.

36 episodes coming right at you.

And we'll save the chat so that we can I can respond to any of the questions. Sounds great.

Take care. Bye bye. Thank you.

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