There’s no question the Valley’s tech scene is in on the upswing. One obstacle executives face, however, is finding the right people with the right skills to fill the right seats. In this episode of this special series on TechTalent, Rick Stoddard, Director of Venture Engagement at Coplex, discusses how he defines top tech talent, qualities he looks for in the startups he works with and the top advice he has for up-and-comers.
How would you define tech talent?
Top talent is those individuals who are constantly learning and absorbing information to further their marketability and what they have to offer to the community. It’s talent that’s energetic and committed to furthering a community, especially a technology community. There’s the resume and bio, but so many intangibles come into play. Are they willing to evolve? Are they willing to take on change? Are they willing to explore the unknown?
What qualities do you look for on filling roles at Coplex, or among the startups you mentor?
Coachability, especially in a mentoring situation. If there doesn’t seem to be an element of coachability, then why even have the relationship? Is the person open to looking in areas they’ve never looked before and exploring what could really make a difference –– not just subtle differences, but transformational differences. Also, I look for what integrity means to them. Not integrity from a good or bad perspective, but really that they understand that integrity in life can have a huge impact on performance. Being authentic and being open and willing to be vulnerable are other things I look for.
Is there an employee you can think of in your past that really stood out? What has made them the best?
They were coachable and they were willing to take action, even when they didn’t want to take action. Unless you’re willing to take action and get out there and experiment and fail, it doesn’t contribute much to furthering your career.
What roles do local tech companies have the toughest time filling?
Software engineering talent and designers –– there are just not enough. I think the more we, locally, can begin to educate our existing base, the better it’s going to be. I see a lot of things being done to do just that so I’m really encouraged at the direction I see our community going.
If you were mentoring a group of emerging tech folks, what’s one thing you’d want them to know?
Be yourself and have fun. It’s a journey –– enjoy it!