Zettler is is the new chairman of Technology Hampton Roads.
Mission of Technology Hampton Roads
Our organization is looking to bring together various members of the information technology systems community of Hampton Roads, ranging from the chief of technology officer to level-one administrator. We try to bring budding entrepreneurs together with people looking to invest in businesses. Our true mission is to grow and retain technology in Hampton Roads.
Technology Hampton Roads is moving to a volunteer- based system for the first time. Typically we've had paid employees. The reason for changing directions is because in the past there had been a lot of technology councils sprouting up. The councils began to lean on the city for money and eventually the funding dried up. We still have sponsors and paid members. That is how we are moving forward with THR.
On my role
I was elected in November. At THR, I worked as a volunteer and was honored with the Volunteer of the Year Award 2012.
I worked in engineering for 15 years before I moved over into sales. Since I have experience working in both fields, I felt working with THR would be a great fit because of my background in both areas.
As chairman, I will run the day-to-day operations of the organization, assist with organizing events and attend board meetings. I also work with the president helping to set up programs and help people find work and employers find new hires. We are a big facilitator on matching people up.
One of the programs we are launching this year is the Host and Boast program, where we allow partners to host an event at their facility and present a topic related to technology. The goal is to allow partners to host the event and THR will work to bring in people to attend using our contacts.
During the first five minutes of the event, partners get to "boast" or pitch their product and discuss their company. Since we are moving to a nonfunded volunteer model, we have to find creative ways to leverage partners with assisting us in providing value to the clients.
We are looking to expand our Teacher-to-Teacher STEM program. A lot of groups preach the importance of STEM and working on programs. Last summer, we held a Teacher-to-Teacher STEM event at Old Dominion University. More than 300 teachers attended the event. Basically teachers from specific fields will speak to others in similar fields and provide them tips on how to improve their lectures and teaching skills.
We will also reintroduce our chief information officer program. What we hope to do is to bring together higher level information system executives from all companies in Hampton Roads in hopes that they will share important information with each other.
Growth in Hampton Roads
I will say that technology in our area is growing. We will never be a Silicon Valley but we do have a hub for major companies like in Raleigh, N.C. We are seeing people coming to this area for technology jobs. We have lower taxes, great schools and it's drawing quality engineers to Hampton Roads.
At THR, we tend to promote from within and help strengthen companies that are already in the area. We do have partnerships with other technology councils in the state.
Our big goal is to drive membership and repopulate the ranks with more engineers. Over the years, we have had a lot of entrepreneurs, salespeople and investors looking to network and meet people. A lot of the events were targeted for them.
It scared away a lot of true engineers that the council was initially founded for. We are looking to bring technology back to the engineers and do more stuff geared toward a true IT engineer.