July 1, 2012

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Utah’s Tech Industry is Booming

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Technology Industry Outlook

Utah Business Staff

July 1, 2012

LEVINZON: Goldman Sachs is an investment bank. We have about 30,000 people globally. By the end of the year our Salt Lake City office will be the fourth largest. I oversee technology and it might be a bit of a surprise to people, but technology comprises 25 percent of the firm. We have 1,600 employees locally, a quarter of them in technology.

As far as our growth year on the technology side, we’ve been growing quite rapidly. We still have a number of openings. We don’t have a ceiling—we will continue to grow. We’re very impressed with the local talent, and that’s where our focus is. I’m new to Utah. I’ve only been here a year, but I could tell that the demand here definitely outpaces the supply. 

WEBB: Edwards Lifesciences is a medical device company focused on innovative solutions for people fighting late-stage cardiovascular disease. We manufacture heart valves and the disposables associated with those procedures.

We are in the process of scaling up an operation in Draper as well. I think we’ve added about 180 jobs in the last couple years. We’ll add another 100 before the end of this year. That’s a mix of professional and high-skilled assembly roles.

In terms of our focus in the state, we’ve had great success. We’re a satellite operation of an Irvine-based company. And Edwards is really interested in investing in the state because of the talent pool, because of the good solid workforce that’s available here. Areas that are a challenge for us are regulatory professionals and research and development engineers. Those are always tough to find.

S. JONES: School Improvement Network is a company that specializes in on-demand video learning for educators. So we have the largest video library of professional development in the industry. We also have the largest social network of educators. We’re pushing a million totally verified educators on our system, and so we merge content with technology.

Our company has been growing quite rapidly over the last few years because of technology. Since I’ve been there it’s doubled in size from 100 to 200 people, and we will continue to grow. One of our challenges is, of course, that growth.

If any of you have been watching the education industry right now, there’s a couple things happening. We don’t like to call it education reform. We like to call it an education revolution—and it’s being driven by technology. States are getting more involved. We’re seeing a lot of money thrown at technology around assessments, teacher evaluations and teacher effectiveness.

So one of the challenges is growing to not only meet our current demands but also being able to respond to those demands that are being legislated and driven by policy. We’re probably one of those industries that’s growing very, very rapidly because of the merger of education and technology that just hasn’t happened before.

The second challenge is growing the company in Utah. Our clients are mostly outside of Utah, and it is a challenge in Utah to find a diversified sales force that can go and talk to urban districts where you’ve got a lot of women and minorities that are leaders. They wonder what we could possibly tell them about the challenges that they’re having in their system and how to meet those challenges.

Third is finding the right talent in the developer space for meeting the technology growth that’s happening. It’s finding people who have passion in education as well as the drive to create the best technology for educators.

SULLIVAN: Ancestry.com has succeeded in Utah both because of fantastic passion and domain expertise, and because of the great technology roots that have existed in Utah County for a long time. We have just over 1,000 employees worldwide; about 80 percent of them are here in Utah.

      We’ve hired a lot of people, maybe 150ish in the last year. We’ll be hiring a bunch this year, maybe another 100 people, more than half of those here in Utah. We have been successful at growing the business here in terms of workforce but also by having a satellite office in San Francisco that has helped us fill some gaps.

I agree with everyone’s sentiment that there’s some fantastic talent here in the state. But by actually plugging a few holes and areas of expertise that don’t exist here, we’ve been able to elevate the whole picture. And so you have engineering team leads here that have been with this company for 10 years that are now given the opportunity to both fill roles here but also recruit into pockets of great expertise in the Bay Area. And it’s made our leaders that have been here and part of this company better and stronger.

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