Greater Nashville Technology Council’s Emerging Leaders in Technology (ELITE) program has officially kicked off its sixth cohort. 27 local technology professionals from 26 different companies are participating this year.
Founded six years ago, NTC’s ELITE is an award winning tech mentorship program that aims to foster and groom Nashville’s next tech executives through a 12-week program that includes classroom curriculum, one-on-one mentorship with veteran executives and peer support groups.
“There were a host of educational programs and initiatives that are focused on teaching tech basics like how to code, but there wasn’t an outlet to take seasoned professionals from mid-level manager to executive,” said ELITE co-founder John Anderson.
In 2015, Anderson, Meg Chamblee, Suzi Earhart and Joanne Eckton formed an invite-only tech roundtable for emerging tech leaders. Interest and engagement grew and soon there wasn’t enough room at the table.
“We decided on the cohort model in 2017 with volunteers from the community leading classroom training sessions and acting as mentors for our emerging leaders,” Chamblee said.
HCA, Tractor Supply and Premise Health were early adopters of the program from both a sponsorship and participant standpoint, according to Anderson. Company sponsorship and engagement allowed ELITE to hire professional C-suite trainer Jennifer Patterson to develop custom curriculum and teach it in the program’s classroom at Tech Hill Commons.
“The way the curriculum is structured, [emerging leaders] learn the academic curriculum in a 2.5-hour classroom setting one week,” said ELITE mentor and G Squared Wireless CEO Charlie Yielding. “Then, the following week they are challenged to apply the concepts they learned to talk through and solve real-world leadership scenarios with their mentors.”
Past participants have called the program “life-changing” and openly credit the course for the growth in their careers. Lindsey Clark, the director of data science at Healthcare Bluebook, said prior to ELITE she struggled as a leader, but since then, she has been promoted to and succeeded in multiple leadership roles In 2019, she won the NTC Awards Data Scientist of the Year.
The 2022 ELITE program is underwritten by Amazon, Tractor Supply, Premise Health, and Healthcare Bluebook. This year, the ELITE program will be hosting an ELITE End of the Year Celebration for the cohort graduates on November 3, 2022.
To date, more than 110 local tech professionals have graduated from the ELITE program. And while Anderson and Chamblee have plans to expand the curriculum and grow participant diversity, there are no plans to increase the number of cohort participants they accept.
“One of the reasons this program has been so successful is because it is competitive and we only take the cream of the crop. We don’t want to dilute that,” Anderson said.