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iTEN WIRED Preparing For Annual Conference

WUWF Public Media

iTEN WIRED, the annual conference that draws executives, engineers, entrepreneurs and others in the technology fields, is set for early October at Pensacola Beach.

This event dates back to 2009, when the Pensacola Chamber of Commerce began it as a quarterly event. But Jim Rhodes, now in his fifth year as conference director, says it eventually morphed into the annual event of today.

“After a period of time, the person at the Chamber that was heading that up left,” said Rhodes. “IT Gulf Coast stepped in and offered to partner with the Chamber to head up the programming for the event. It became an annual event at that time. The chambers splintered, and Florida West has taken up that partnership.”

Topics for the conference, nicknamed “Geeks on the Beach,” include Cybersecurity, InfoSec, Martech, MedTech, and Artificial Intelligence. Rhodes also points to the lineup of speakers.

“We have Jamie Grant from the House of Representatives coming back,” said Rhodes. “Adam Ely, Vice President of Cybersecurity for Walmart, a former resident of this area.”

Kelly Reeser is Director of Entrepreneurial Development for Florida West, the Economic Development Alliance serving the western Panhandle. One of the topics is “Master Today’s Technology, Prepare for Tomorrow’s.”

“And also if you’re a manager of individuals who work in the technology field, or maybe you’re a small business owner, and [Information Technology} is a little bit foreign to you,” said Reeser. “We’ve got topics in our breakout sessions that can appeal to all of those audiences.”

One of the more popular subjects, the iTEN Job Fair, returns for a second year. Jim Rhodes says firms such as H2 Performance; Navy Federal, AppRiver, CSRA and TEKSystems will have representatives to speak about career opportunities.

Credit Dave Dunwoody, WUWF Public Media
Kelly Reeser (L) and Jim Rhodes, organizers of the 2017 iTEN WIRED conference.

One basic fact about iTEN WIRED and other such events is that you can’t put them on without some type of sponsorship. Reeser says the business community in the Panhandle has really jumped on board.

“A topic that we’ll be discussing and you’ll hear permeating the conversation in the rooms, is how we build a sustainable technology community in northwest Florida,” Reeser said. “The sponsors are a huge part of that because they’re not only voting for that with their presence, but with their dollars.”

Among the panel discussions is “Women in Technology.” That comes on the heels of a recent memo from a Google engineer, since fired, questioning women’s abilities in that field. Reeser says it’s important for a student to look at the workforce in their chosen career path, and see themselves.

“[That’s] the goal of the Women in Technology panel,” said Reeser. “We are allowing those individuals to their stories – what were the challenges that they faced, potentially as either a minority or a woman in a predominantly male space. What were the challenges you faced and how did you overcome those, and what nuggets of wisdom would you give to those coming for future careers.”

The summit runs from October 9-11. More information on this year’s iTEN WIRED can be found at www.itenwired.com.