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Teaching and Retaining the Innovators of Tomorrow

20 Nov 2015 by Insight Editor

Many teachers put forth the extra effort for their students, and a few far exceed fulfilling their duties as an educator. Dr. Paul McElligott is one of them.

The Fountain Hills High School instructor won the Insight Teacher of the Year Award at the  Governor’s Celebration of Innovation (GCOI) gala. While it’s the first year Insight has honored a local teacher at the event, it has a history with the Arizona Technology Council (AZTC), which has hosted the gala for the past 12 years in partnership with the Arizona Commerce Authority.

Being on the board

In October, Insight CIO Mike Guggemos was elected to serve a second three-year term on the board as vice chairman. “The position of vice chairman has many different roles. Aside from filling in for the chair person, I ensure meetings are running efficiently and that there’s active participation,” says Guggemos. “The larger piece of the role is very important to me: I’m one of the primary voices for tech companies within the state of Arizona.”

Serving on the executive committee — along with the chairman, president and a handful of others — Guggemos provides oversight to the organization, advising the management team and vetting strategies on how to work best with local organizations. Additionally, the committee meets with numerous government bodies to coordinate actions on behalf of the tech companies in Arizona.

“The Arizona Technology Council is a trade association. We represent over 800 technology companies across the state — everything from aerospace and defense, IT, telecom, health and bioscience, even energy,” says Steve Zylstra, president and CEO of the AZTC.

Building Arizona businesses

“I want to bring a perspective beyond the borders of Arizona,” Guggemos explains about his AZTC role. “What is happening in California, Illinois and New York? What is happening in other places in the U.S.? But also, what is happening in Canada, China and Australia? We need to lift up the perspective of the community within Arizona because we’re competing with all of those places; we’re not only competing within our home state. We are competing with other states and other countries.”

Previously appointed by Governor Napolitano to be a member of the board of directors for the Arizona-Mexico Commission, Guggemos knows how to enhance business relations in the state of Arizona and beyond. “I was extremely involved in positioning jobs in Mexico and worked on legislation to make it easier for tech-qualified talent to move back and forth across the border,” he says.

Guggemos’ experience with the Arizona-Mexico Commission gives him a perspective that can help the state hold on to local business and engineering graduates. And that’s just what the AZTC strives for, too, as part of its goals is to grow member businesses and transform technology in Arizona.

“While we have the single largest business school in the world — Arizona State University — we retain a tiny fraction of the graduates,” Guggemos says. “University of Arizona is a top engineering school, and we retain a tiny fraction of those engineers. These graduates are going to work in other states, other countries.”

We need to create an environment, Guggemos says, where businesses can grow to employ the graduates coming out of school versus it being a talent drain for the state. “I have three sons who are all looking at opportunities in California and other places, and it would be great if they could get great positions in Arizona.”

Being an active member on the AZTC gives Insight the opportunity to participate in the business community as a leader driving innovation into the future. And thanks to teachers like Dr. McElligott, who Guggemos presented with an honorarium of $1,500 at the GCOI, the innovators of tomorrow are on their way.