Pearson Partners in the Community – Metroplex Technology Business Council
Pearson Partners Advocate: Deborah Sawyer
Pearson Partners believes in giving back to the community, and we encourage our team members to be involved in charitable and civic organizations. Deborah Sawyer, our vice president, is chair of the Nominating Committee for the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex Technology Business Council’s (MTBC) 2014 Tech Titans, its annual signature awards gala that brings together representatives from 300 MTBC member companies. We spoke with Deborah about her passion for MTBC’s mission.
What is the overall mission of the organization?
The MTBC is the largest technology trade association in Texas, representing a quarter-million employees through its 300 member companies. The MTBC strengthens the North Texas technology community by:
- Growing future tech leaders with its talent and workforce development initiative
- Advocating technology’s advancement in governmental arenas
- Connecting people and inspiring ideas through its programs, including its annual Academy-awards-style gala, Tech Titans
What is the history of the organization, and how and why was it formed?
The MTBC was launched by four past chairs of the Richardson Chamber of Commerce in August 1994, following a period of explosive growth among local high-tech companies. Its purpose is to provide leadership and promote collaboration among area technology companies on issues vital to their industry. It has become the largest pure technology association in the southwestern United States.
What would you say have been the overall results so far of the organization, and can you give an example of a project you’ve done or the ways you have had an impact on the community?
Growth, sustainability and innovation in the technology industry are all highly dependent on talent. The MTBC’s four “pillars”—Education, Legislation, Innovation and Connection—work in concert to address this need. For example, in regards to Education, in addition to the $68,000 raised for the MTBC STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fund and Tech Titans scholarships and grants, the MTBC has a website called STEMfire to connect educators to technology professionals. In this pilot program, educators can input targeted needs they may have in their classroom, such as speakers, topic advisors, STEM judges or career coaches.
Personally, I have been actively involved in the Connection pillar as part of the Programs Committee identifying topics and speakers for the monthly Tech Industry Luncheon Series and the Tech Titans Nominating Committee, where I serve as nominations chair.
This year’s Tech Titans is off to a great start with tremendous nominations across all categories, recognizing outstanding information technology companies and individuals in the North Texas area who have made contributions during the past year locally, as well as to the technology industry overall. Tech Titans culminates with a black-tie gala on August 22, and funds are raised during the gala for the MTBC’s STEM Partnership Initiative.
How has your involvement enriched your life, both personally and professionally? How has the organization helped you expand your business network?
Personally, I am inspired by the MTBC’s focus on STEM. As a mother of three daughters, I believe strongly in raising the profile of STEM education not only to young women, but to our youth in general. My favorite monthly Tech Industry Luncheon is each February, when the MTBC hosts the DFW Metroplex Affiliate Awards program recognizing young women from Metroplex high schools, and awards STEM scholarships to these deserving young women.
My favorite award at Tech Titans is what we call Tech Titans of the Future High School Level. This award recognizes a DFW Metroplex high school math or science teacher for development and implementation of an innovative teaching technique or program that inspires student interest regarding further educational and/or career pursuits in science, technology, engineering or math. And the teacher has to have student testimonials. Isn’t that cool?
Professionally, I have the opportunity to work side-by-side with technology executives who are titans in their own right. Being part of the MTBC has given me, and Pearson Partners, connections to business leaders and business prospects that we could not otherwise have gained. It also gives me relevant and recent information to not only get a conversation started, but to continue to play an active role in that conversation.
What are the factors limiting the organization in terms of its ability to do more for our community?
That is a very good question, and one we are asking ourselves now. The MTBC recently completed a strategic study looking at ways to add those that use or deploy technology to its membership, not just inventors or developers of technology. Industry verticals that have not traditionally been part of the MTBC, such as energy, medical devices, aerospace, etc., would be invited to join the community.
In an effort to create more engagement opportunities, Special Interest Groups, or SIGs, are being developed that can appeal to the targeted interests and needs of MTBC members and the technology community at large. A new Internet of Things SIG has already been launched, and a Big Data/Business Intelligence SIG will begin discussions next month. Other SIGs are in the planning stages.
What is the best way to get involved with the organization?
The MTBC offers a variety of volunteer opportunities for member companies and their employees. It is really a matter of what interests you and where you believe you can make an impact and have fun doing it. There is a team that matches up to each of the four Pillars, plus several more. The organization’s success relies on its volunteers. Additionally, anyone can nominate a colleague, their company or themselves for the annual Tech Titans awards in August. Nominations usually open in March and close in late May.
What other information would you like to share with our readers?
There is a misconception in the community that the MTBC and Tech Titans are a telecom-corridor-only organization and event. Believe me, they are not. The organization’s roots might be in Richardson, but our outreach is the entire Metroplex, defined as the 11 counties in the North Texas region, including Collin, Dallas, Denton, Ellis, Hunt, Johnson, Kaufman, Parker, Rockwall, Tarrant and Wise counties. I am very proud of my Tech Titans Nominations Committee members. Their outreach across the Metroplex yielded a particularly fruitful, geographically diverse group of nominees this year.