New Jersey Technology and Entrepreneurship Week Kicks Off


Photo: Peopleproductive's Frank Wander Photo Credit: Esther Surden

Peopleproductive's Frank Wander | Esther Surden

The kickoff event for the New Jersey Technology & Entrepreneurship Network Industry Week, “Talent Management Reimagined for the 21st Century,” took place at New Jersey Institute of Technology on Monday, featuring a keynote by Frank Wander, founder and CEO, Peopleproductive.com (Hillsborough), and former CIO, Guardian Life Insurance Company of America (New York, N.Y.).

A proclamation naming April 13–17 as Technology and Entrepreneurship Talent Network (TETN) Week in the state was presented on behalf of Governor Chris Christie by Jeff Stoller, assistant commissioner, Office of Research and Information, New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

In his talk, Wander mentioned that the number one CEO challenge for 2015 is the effective use of human capital. Companies literally need to “rehumanize work” and grow a generation of leaders who know as much about human infrastructure as they do about their products, processes and technologies.

Taking his audience  through a history of work, Wander said that talent today is capital, much as machines were during the Industrial Revolution. In those days, innovative and knowledgeable users of capital equipment had an advantage. Now, capital includes tech talent and a workplace that is conducive to engaged employees and leads to increased productivity, he said.

Noting the fast pace of business technology innovation, Wander asked, “Can we get the human side of business moving with the speed of technologies?” The winners in today’s landscape are those companies that take the time and effort to become great places to work, he noted.

Doug Schoenberger, vice president of corporate responsibility and public affairs at Verizon New Jersey, described the Verizon Innovative App Challenge (covered here), which is aimed at high school students. This year’s winning team, from High Technology High School (Lincroft), had come up with an app concept called “Thinklet.”

If developed, this app would help connect researchers and engineers seeking new ideas for improving society with individuals who have such ideas, but no opportunities to realize them.  Unfortunately, the student winners were unable to travel to the kickoff event.

Photo: Karen Richards, Interim Director TETN, Jeff Stoller, assistant commissioner, Office of Research and Information, New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, and Dr. Gale Tenen Spak, NJIT associate VP, continuing and distance education Photo Credit: Esther Surden

Karen Richards, Interim Director TETN, Jeff Stoller, assistant commissioner, Office of Research and Information, New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, and Dr. Gale Tenen Spak, NJIT associate VP, continuing and distance education | Esther Surden

Cesar Bandera, assistant professor of entrepreneurship at NJIT, gave a glimpse into what happens when a college takes student entrepreneurs into a contest and wins. In Nov. 2014, Bandera advised a team of NJIT students heading to the United Athletes Foundation-Microsoft Hackathon. The team took top honors, with $10, 000 given to each member, he said.

The teams were required to create a mobile app, including a prototype and business plan. For their demo, the NJIT students installed their app on a cellphone to convert it into a mobile gateway, and then used it to broadcast videos directly to the judges’ cellphones. Healthcare institutions could use this app to broadcast public service announcements in regions of the world where there is no Internet access.

Microsoft was very interested in underwriting the further development of this technology, Bandera said, but the problem was that the students had different life plans. One was going on to medical school, another already had a job lined up, etc. The intellectual property was spun into a startup, he said, and the students will reap some rewards when and if the company successfully develops the product further.

After lunch, the attendees participated in a hands-on workshop led by Wander.

The kickoff was one of six featured events taking place this week. The others events are:

  • Tuesday, April 14 at Rowan University, in Glassboro: “Growing the Technology Economy in New Jersey.” Sold out.
  • Wednesday, April 15, Public Service Enterprise Group (PSEG) student career trip. An invitation-only event just for students.

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