A Rackspace alumnus has been tasked with helping San Antonio better attract and retain tech talent, which local leaders say is pivotal to keeping pace with other so-called second-tier tech cities.
Dax Moreno, who has held leadership positions at such local tech organizations as Rackspace, Geekdom, Assembla, and Readitfor.me, assumed the responsibilities of Tech Bloc’s Chief Talent & Recruitment Officer on Nov. 14, months after former CTRO Jeannine Wild, also an ex-Rackspace employee, stepped down citing medical issues.
One of Moreno’s previous executive roles took him to Los Angeles, where he quickly realized he had a calling to help build San Antonio’s tech ecosystem, he said. A recent national report ranked San Antonio 46th among the Top 50 North American markets for tech talent. The city, however, has stagnated in recent years – dropping in position from No. 40 on CBRE’s “Scoring Tech Talent” report in 2015 to 45 in 2016, then to 47 in 2017 with other second-tier cities, such as Milwaukee and Nashville, pulling ahead in the most recent report.
“There are starts and stops obviously, but overall we’re in an amazing place,” Moreno said. “We’re a Tier 2 city knocking on the door of Tier 1 status, and that is such an exciting opportunity to see what it will take for us to break through or continue our growth.”
To get there, Moreno’s office will serve as a one-stop shop connecting job seekers with opportunities in San Antonio’s tech sector.
As an employee of local advocacy group Tech Bloc, Moreno will be tasked with growing the workforce for the city’s tech economy by placing top information technology talent in positions at local companies, primarily smaller and medium-sized firms that cannot afford their own in-house recruiting personnel. He will work not only with tech startups and large companies hiring tech workers, but also postsecondary training providers, higher-education institutions, and other workforce development organizations.
Tech Bloc board member Erin Wilbanks steered the CTRO search committee. Wilbanks, who directs recruiting and business development at H-E-B and worked with Moreno at Rackspace, said his commitment to the local tech scene will help serve the Tech Bloc mission well.
“He will bring a ton of energy and creativity to this role,” she said. “He’s very well known across the SA tech community and has been a people connector and bridge building for many years.”
Tech Bloc first pitched the CTRO idea to City officials in 2016 during the fiscal year 2017 budgeting process and began soliciting applications for the position in July 2017. In April, Tech Bloc hired Wild, who resigned in July.
Bexar County and the City of San Antonio have each provided initial seed funding of $150,000 for the CTRO’s salary, marketing and outreach, and data management systems. Tech Bloc CEO David Heard said the organization paid Wild’s salary for about 2 ½ months of work. The County and City have yet to disburse the combined $300,000.
Much of the funding will support the creation of a central repository of information technology talent – a database that will provide a directory of tech sector workers and their skill sets.
The platform will be free to job-seeking techies to submit their résumé, and employers can utilize the database to search for people to fill their openings. Moreno said he aims to have a “working version” of the database online by early next year.