After two years with co-executive directors at the helm, Tampa Bay Tech is returning to a single leadership model.
The Tampa Bay Tech board of directors has appointed Jill St. Thomas as executive director and she will assume day-to-day leadership of the organization.
St. Thomas has been co-executive director and chief revenue officer for the past two years, working alongside Daniel James Scott, who was co-executive director and chief operations officer. Scott is leaving to pursue new opportunities, and his last day will be Dec. 31.
“Although my family and I haven’t made a final decision on my next move, I am genuinely excited about the opportunities that have presented themselves,” Scott told the St. Pete Catalyst.
Tampa Bay Tech is in growth mode, St. Thomas said. She has a structure in mind for a support team and plans to announce new team members as they are brought on.
She also expects to launch new initiatives under Tampa Bay Tech’s “poweredUP” brand and to expand board task force partnerships that are bringing value to the local technology community.
Tampa Bay Tech, which changed its name from Tampa Bay Technology Forum about two years ago, is one of the top 25 tech hubs in North America, representing a community of more than 57,000 technology workers at more than 120 member companies. The organization’s strategy is “to build the most radically connected tech hub.”
“Jill has been pivotal in developing the strength of our brand, building our member and partner relationships, and driving the strategic vision of the organization forward,” said Jason Warnke, managing director at Accenture and chair of Tampa Bay Tech’s board of directors. “Her energy and dedication to this community is unwavering and I can’t think of a better person to carry out Tampa Bay Tech’s mission.”
Related story: A poweredUP conversation with Jill St. Thomas
St. Thomas has worked at the organization off-and-on for more than a decade. She was director of membership from 2008 to 2011 and returned in 2016 as director of partnerships and engagement. She was named co-executive director in January 2018, joining Scott, who had been executive director since 2014.
“For the last couple of years he’s been talking about succession planning and the idea to bring us both on as co-directors was the start of that,” St. Thomas said. “He’s ready to move on. He’s an entrepreneurial guy but he needed to feel like the organization was in a good point to do that.”
“On behalf of the Board of Directors, I want to thank Daniel for his tremendous leadership, vision and commitment to our organization and the entire Tampa Bay community. He has left a terrific legacy,” Warnke said. “I wish him the best in his next endeavor.”
St. Thomas and Scott were the first team in the course of 20 years at Tampa Bay Tech to try the co-director model and it worked well, St. Thomas said.
“Daniel and I had very unique and different strengths, and at the time, it allowed us both to leverage those to grow the organization. At this point, we’re in a solid position to focus on growth and building a radically connected community, and with my business development and branding backgrounds, along with the relationships we’ve built in the market, I am confident that — while working with the incredible leaders on our board — returning to a single leadership model will be successful,” she said.
During the leadership transition, several board members have pitched in to make sure all the organizational needs are being covered. For instance, Robyn Spoto, founder and CEO of SpotOn Digital Media, is a marketing partner and has stepped up to help, St. Thomas said.
Looking ahead to 2020, St. Thomas said the biggest and most exciting change is an expansion of the “poweredUP” brand, which has been used for Tampa Bay Tech events.
“We decided to take that brand and elevate it to encompass everything we are doing for our members and the community under the umbrella of radical connected-ness,” St. Thomas said. “This year we will launch a couple of new poweredUP specific initiatives that will amplify the idea of radical connected-ness in bold new ways for members.”
She also expects more board-led task forces, such as the one to address the technology skills gap undertaken by Tanya Fickett, head of field technology for New York Life Insurance Co. in Tampa. Fickett is spearheading a partnership with Year Up, which offers an intensive, one-year program for young adults ages 18-24, combining professional coaching, hands-on skill development and internships at leading companies.
“I think we’ll see more of that in 2020, more of the task force model addressing needs and gaps and that will make a difference,” St. Thomas said.