CDC Tech Life Podcast

Episode 1: Todd Lant - CIO - Blackbaud Inc

March 15, 2022 Rich Conte Season 1 Episode 1
CDC Tech Life Podcast
Episode 1: Todd Lant - CIO - Blackbaud Inc
Show Notes Transcript

Episode 1 of the Charleston Digital Corridor (CDC) Tech Life Podcast features Todd Lant; Chief Information Officer (CIO) of Charleston SC Technology Company Blackbaud Inc.  Todd talks about his role and the ongoing growth of Blackbaud and shares insights on the Charleston Technology community and the impact of remote work.

Episode 1 is sponsored by Charleston Open Source and Comcast.

Thanks to the Charleston Digital Corridor, the Tech Life Podcast has returned to share stories from the rapidly growing Charleston SC Technology and Entrepreneur communities.  Join us each month for a new episode and subscribe to make sure you don't miss a beat!

Speaker 1:

The tech life podcast is back. I'm your host, rich Conti . And after a few years off, we're excited to be partnering with the Charleston digital corridor to bring you the best of Charleston's technology community. Our first episode back was made possible in part by a couple of amazing sponsors, Comcast and Charleston, open source . Comcast business has a dedicated team of industry experts to prepare businesses for what's next with a suite of connectivity, communications, networking, cybersecurity, and manage solutions. Visit them@business.comcast.com . Charleston opensource is a tech talent attraction initiative designed to build awareness of Charleston's thriving tech economy and attract tech professionals to the region. You can find them@charlestonopensource.com. Well, a lot has happened since you last heard from us and with the return of the podcast and the partnership with the Charleston digital corridor. We're doubling down on our focus on the people and topics of interest that are having the biggest impact on the Charleston technology community. We've been hard at work recording content at the Charleston tech center's new state of the art studio and have a great pipeline of episodes coming for you over the next couple of months. Look for us on apple podcast or wherever you find your podcast content, leave us a rating and review to let us know how we're doing. You can also follow us on Twitter at tech life pod, and find us on Facebook and Instagram. I also wanna thank Ernest and , and the amazing team at the Charleston digital corridor for making this possible. You can find them on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram, and all of our episodes can be found@charlestondigitalcorridor.com . Well, our guest today on the podcast is Todd. Todd is the CIO chief information officer for Charleston base black bod incorporated. Most listeners will probably be, have some at least passing familiarity , uh , with black bod . Welcome to the show. Todd,

Speaker 2:

Thanks, rich . It's awesome. Being here. Thanks for having me

Speaker 1:

Now. Some of the listeners may know that actually I work at black bots . I've known Todd for a while , but what I'm sure that nobody odds Todd and I right now know is we actually started the exact same day at black bond nearly 19 years ago.

Speaker 2:

Yeah , we did. Yeah ,

Speaker 1:

We did any memories of that day.

Speaker 2:

No , it's , I'm so old now. I don't even remember what happened years ago now. I do have, I have fond memories actually of that day. I'll never forget it. And um, you know, it's been , uh , an amazing career at black bond . I'm sure it has for , or you wouldn't still be there, but , uh , yeah, I remember that any out class. I remember the classroom we were in. I remember , um, learning about the company the first day, so yeah, that's great . I do

Speaker 1:

Well , that's a , a neat segue into , um , let's start by maybe just talking a little bit about black pod . Uh , we were just joking off air that , um , I could probably answer some of these questions , uh , as well, but tell us a little bit about Blackboard missions solutions customers. Yeah . It's pretty, you know , big and broad company right

Speaker 2:

Now . Yeah , absolutely. Thanks rich. Yeah. So black Bo's , uh , in more industry terms black, Bo's what we would call a vertical software company and we serve the social good space. So we've got over 40,000 customers. And what we do for those customers is help them candidly with the business of technology so that they can focus on their mission. So those customers range from small nonprofits that, you know, don't have a technology organization or technology arm of their business and help them with fundraising and program management, things like that, all the way up through corporations who have a corporate social responsibility program, where we, we allow them to , um, gather payroll deductions from their employees or track volunteer for vacation. So we're a software company, again, based in Charleston, South Carolina, but have a global public company traded on the NASDAQ stock exchange. Uh , been in existence. We celebrated our 40th birthday this past year. So a , a lot of really interesting things there. People think of us as niche because we historically supported the, the nonprofit sector. Um , we do a lot with corporations now and the for profit space as well. Uh , but even within the nonprofit space , um, well you may think of us as niche. It's a very complicated space and , and our customers range from healthcare organizations , um , hospitals, higher ed, K12 schools, mission and faith based , uh , traditional nonprofits all the way up through major corporations. Um , so sports teams like the NFL banks, you name it so

Speaker 1:

Well thinking back those those 19 years or so, what initially attracted you to black Bo and what was the move to Charleston like for you back then?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it's a great story. You know, back then, it's hard to imagine it now in the job market today, the job market, wasn't what it was. And so there were, there were more applicants for any than there were jobs. And , uh , my wife and I had , had spent much of our lives closer to the east coast and, and we were in Houston, we'd done a startup out there and , and were interested in getting a little closer to family. And so we were looking for jobs regionally, but it was , um , tricky to actually get somebody to, to pick your resume up to typically filter through the ones that were local and just put the others aside in case if they couldn't fill the role, they might start digging into those. But , um, black Bo was interesting and we were actually a customer of Blackboard. I was at the Houston independent school district at the time. Okay. Great organization , um , served the inner city schools of Houston over 30,000 students at the time. And, and we used Blackboard to, to raise funds. It was, you know, sitting on a PC under somebody's desk. There was one person knew how to use it. But , uh , I learned about the organization from that had some personal , um , desire to be in the region. And so I , I made a move. It was a little bit of an interesting move. It was, you know , much smaller role, much smaller organization than I'd been at in quite a while. You know, kind of joined the organization, thinking a bit back to the region and, and take it from there. But it's been a, you know, crazy ride ever since then, a lot of fun. Um, I'd done a couple of IPOs before lock wad shortly after I joined. Yep . IPOed and , um, you know, have just continued growing through organic growth through acquisition, through, you know, entry into new markets. Um , just a lot of change. So for me, it's kind of been a new job every couple of years and , and new responsibility, new opportunities. And it's been fun to grow with the company and stay with it. But underneath all that, what I , what I learned at the Houston independent school district, I've been in telecommunications before that much, my career has been in tech, but there are always times in your career when you have a day, that's a hard day. Yeah . You have to make a decision that isn't popular or you have to do something that is a trade off between , um , two difficult things to do. And when I learned that the , the school district was when there was a kid sitting on the other side of it, maybe, maybe a child that was in middle school. And if they didn't get an education or a high school student that that might drop outta school, this, this really was their chance. And so it made those difficult decisions easier when you knew that the outcome of that decision made a difference in the world. And, you know, that's one thing that at Blackboard, you kind of get it when you hear the story , but until you're here until you see the impact, you can have how we actually help customers achieve their missions. It's very difficult to understand what kind of culture that actually is. It's difficult to understand the personal value you derive from it. That said, I'm a business guy. I've got an MBA in economics. Um , I love business. I'm a techie two , my undergrad degrees , computer science and MBA. If anything helped me understand the technology was where I wanted to be. So the idea of Todd L going and working in a nonprofit , the rest of my career, just isn't, it's not the perfect fit a public company that's in technology. That's enabling that really is a great fit for me. So, so that's what attracted me and, and has retained me black .

Speaker 1:

You know , like you said, it's one thing to visit the website or hear about black bot and sort of hear the , the mission and, and hear folks talk about social good, but it really is ingrained as part of the culture culture . And , you know, you see it's very different for every employee, but there's usually some connection to some cause or some way of making an impact, even if it's a really hyperlocal thing in their community. It's just a big part . The

Speaker 2:

Absolutely, absolutely. And it's a good story too. I mean the , the business side of the business has, has done well. Right. We've grown for the 18 years. I've been here and it's been good growth and growth in new areas and our new markets, things of that nature. So , um , that's been a lot of fun too challenging for sure. Yeah.

Speaker 1:

Well thinking back then, too, when you first came to Charleston, was there anything about the Charles tech business communities that maybe surprised you a little bit that you didn't expect?

Speaker 2:

There was, I mean, I came to Charleston apprehensive, candidly, right. In a job market where , um, I had a one year old daughter. Um, I didn't expect to stay in a role for as long as I have typically. I stayed in a role for a few years, three to three to five years and would move on. Um, I expected my next move was gonna have to be out of town when I got here. It certainly wasn't the community as today. But even at that time, there was more technology than I expected. There were other tech companies , um, coming up out of the ground. There was more technology in, in even the , um, public sector space , um, than I expected with organizations like S CRA . And so, you know, I quickly , uh , made some new friends and some new contacts and started to build a peer network here. Um , which was nice.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. My experiences sort of parallel a little, but I, you know , was at the time was single, didn't have any family. So it gave me a little bit more flexibility in case things didn't work out. But that was a very real thing when I made the decision, move down folks saying, well, you know, if it doesn't work out there, sure. Didn't have to move back up to the Northeast. And , um, same thing I found that not really to be true, like pretty quickly. And this was before all the explore , you know , growth we've seen over the last 10 years, there were still, you know, you could see the beginnings of it happening back

Speaker 2:

Then. Sure. Absolutely.

Speaker 1:

Well , let's pivot a little bit. Let's talk about your role day to day . You mentioned it feels like a new job every couple of years. So what , what is it currently now what your average

Speaker 2:

Team ? So sometimes every day it feels like a new job. Um, yeah, so I've got responsibility for technology. We run our business on. So we call that corporate technology and that's, that's everything from, you know , tangible things like a laptop that you get, or the, you know, the technology that we use in a conference room , um , to the, the business applications that we, that we run to keep our business alive all the way through kind of the experimental innovation and things. You know, we're doing a little bit of experimentation right now with virtual reality and how that , how we think that's gonna play into business that, you know, we're not gonna, it's not gonna roll out to 3000 employees next week. Right . But, but we're starting to think about and talk about that. I also have responsibility for our cybersecurity practice, which is clearly a fast growing and rapidly growing piece of any business. Um , Blackboard's invested very, very heavily there over the last few years. And so that's been a , a bigger and bigger portion of my daily life. And , um, you know, if you look at my time, chief responsibility kind of sits at two ends of the spectrum. One is the , the strategy for the company, making sure that our strategy's aligned with our corporate strategy, but also informs our corporate strategy , um , driven by our corporate strategy. The other on the spectrum is the operations of, of a technology company. There's a whole lot in the middle. I had a good mentor once that , that told me there was a lot of opposition in , in a role like this. And it's true, right? There's some days, you know, you're trying to save money and you're trying to innovate and spend money at the same time. And there there's a very collaborative relationship between many of those opposing forces in the role. But , uh , that's, that's where I spend my time trying to ensure that organizations moving forward well that , uh , black pod's moving forward. Well, I do sit on the executive team at black pod . So I spend a good bit of time just, you know, helping run the business, which is a lot of fun. So , um, but yeah , I stay pretty busy.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. I like the way you put that. Interesting. I was gonna follow up and ask, you know, is there a unique challenge sort of being, you know, in that role where you're both strategic and tactical and I like the way you express it, as on the one hand, you know , I'm out here spending money, you know, trying to push us forward on the other hand, trying to get us save money and to run the business effectively. Um, you know, is there a unique challenge you think to being a CIO in a, in a technology company?

Speaker 2:

Yeah. Everybody knows how to do your job better than you do and tells you that every day I joke about that, but no, it is unique. I've been at a number of tech companies, I've bet companies that aren't tech companies. And so there's a number of reasons. It's a challenge. One is , um, you know, innovation is our product. Yeah . Um , and innovation is the product in, in many organizations, but sometimes the product is , uh , you know , an automobile. And so when, when technology is the product , um, that you sell and deliver to customers, the internal for a group of knowledge workers , uh , tend to be a bit different than they are. And so you've really gotta start to, to stretch the boundaries and balance some of the governance and control you see in a more traditional organization. So the more technology sprawl we have, the more difficult it is to secure the less likely common practices are established, crossed organizations. So, you know, there's a downside to it. The upside is, you know, if you , if you're a strict technology too much, then, then you're limiting innovation. And so that's one of the more unique challenges I have. But candidly, you know, I sit , sit down with a group of CIOs, which I do from time to time. Our challenges are all quite similar at a public company. Um , we might be in a different phase of that challenge. A lot of times we'll be a little more leading edge than a manufacturing company, for example, in some areas on the flip side, you know, they're doing a lot with technologies, like internet of things because of the, the payback on the operational side of their business or predictive maintenance and things like that that we don't see. So yeah . You know , there's a challenge remaining relevant, I think too, when, when you're in a single , uh, sector. Yeah.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. I mean, thinking about that balance between, you know, letting the folks who need the technology use the technology and the governance involved. Now , the landscape there has changed drastically over the last five or 10 years. I mean, you know, I'm sure broadly in the industry, but I've seen it at black Bo for , you know , pretty much you had free rain , you know, on your, you know , PC to install what you need and do what you need. And then increasingly that's becoming very difficult for folks in an organization like yours to be able to manage. And do you know , the things that the company needs done to make sure things are secure and compliant, etc .

Speaker 2:

Absolutely. It's job one for all of us. Yeah . I think, and it's to , you know, we used to think of it as an it job. It's not anymore . Right . Every employee who's every employee in the company's part of our security organization. It's very true. And , um, it , it will always be true.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. On the flip side, I will say, well , there may be times where folks feel constrained. Like I, for one, I'm glad to not have to ever mess with registry settings again, or, you know, do any of those things that used to just come with maintaining your own, you know, devices back then. So earlier you talked about the breadth of what black bud is and does, you know , particularly in contrast with what might be sort of the , the general perception, but talk a little bit about that growth and , and sort of at the core, what you think has, has fueled over the years.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. I mean, it's, it's , uh , not super complicated. Our, our current CEO's leadership has been , um, refreshing to me. I spent much of my early career where , um , every year you got a new corporate strategy and, you know, our strategy year over year remains fairly consistent. Certainly it evolves and it grows, but , um, you know, it's, it's pretty straightforward. We're we are what we are, we are in a very large market. So our addressable market is quite large, you know, we just made an acquisition that , um, that helped grow that market. It actually doubled the Tam in our corporation space. We can talk about that in a bit, if you like, you know, in a large growing market, your strategy doesn't have to adapt to, to nuanced little changes because our opportunity is, is it's there, right? Yeah . We , what we have to do is execute well, we have to innovate well and , um , we have to help our customers derive value. So, so that part's been consistent. What, what creating the IU for our customers is though has changed a lot through the years, right? We've, we've evolved on the, the software side of things from a world where, you know, you sold a perpetual license and somebody had to run and manage that. And it wasn't our problem, but we had to provide a lot of support to you , um, through a , you know, a world where, you know, we're kind of in this hybrid hosted world, a , a SaaS world where, you know, most of us procure software, that's, that's not our problem to run and manage, right . It's our problem to administer it's our problem to, to govern and, and figure out how we use it. And so that challenge is really different for a company. If you think about our DNA underneath that, the financial and economic changes that go on with shifting to a subscription based organization have a lot of complexity to them. Um , they have complexity in how we innovate because we're now building products that, you know , have to take them into account. Um , being very nimble, you know, the ability to, within product , uh , create an offer that, that somebody can, can add to their existing platform , um, without actually talking to a human or engaging with a human continues to, to grow and, and is an increased need at the same time. Um , if you've got a very large organization, there may be a governance process on the backside of that, that they have to go through. And, and so commercial software still very much is a , is a face to face . Um , even through the pandemic, very virtual face to virtual face experience. Um , I was talking to somebody last night and the conversation was really around how does that model evolve over the next 10 years? Because , uh , much of that is really around trust today. I need a trust , uh , the organization I'm partnering with to deliver technology because in a, in a SaaS world , um , I'm not just buying the technology that exists today. I'm buying into the, the , the trust that that is gonna continue to innovate and grow and become a , a bigger and bigger part of my ecosystem and help me with new challenges that I don't even know that I'm gonna have. And so in a very physical world that we used to live in , uh , much of those relationships were built face to face . Um, those relationships are not being built face to face today. Uh , but I think again, technology's gonna continue to change and force us to think differently about those types of things. Yeah .

Speaker 1:

You mentioned the acquisition of EverFi. I don't think we explicitly said the name, but you , that , that was announced on December 31st, you know , got it right at the end of the , the , the year. Talk to me a little bit about how that came together , um, and what you see it doing for black bot in the long run.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. I'm still learning about the organization. You know, the , the fun thing about acquisitions is, you know, through a diligence period, we get us study some things that, that make a difference in the business model and make a decision about whether we're gonna move forward there. But, you know, we're just now getting into the point that we're, we're really starting to understand more and more about that organization. We generally understand the customer base, but it's a very different product, right? It's an impact as a service product, which is kind of a new, new concept that's been coined, but , um, we don't just deliver technology. We actually deliver the outcome and we do that for organizations like the NFL, like the premier league for large banks. And , um, we do that by, you know, with, with community engagement. It's just, it's unprecedented what the EverFi platforms been able to, to do. And so we're, we're trying to learn and understand that, right? Our core business to date has really about been about delivering technology, not outcomes. And so how does that integrate with other parts of our business? How can we apply it elsewhere? So on the front end of that, you think about how, how do we, you know, we've got a lot of customers they don't have, and they've got customers we don't have in the same space. So how do you make the most of that and generate value for those customers? But you start to also think about the core DNA of your company. Our company's cultures are very similar, right? Very positive, forward thinking cultures , um, very thoughtful and caring about , um , you know, cultivating that culture about, you know, topics like ESG and things of that nature, but, you know, how , how do we learn from what the EverFi team has built , um, and integrate into other parts of the black body ecosystem. So we're doing a lot of that right now. That's, that's a lot of fun. There's obviously , um , a lot of work to do. As you put two organizations together, cultures are never quite the same. They're a good size business. Um, but they haven't been a public company. They haven't been, you know, the scale we are. And so as you , as we close the end of the year, as you suggested , um , we just announced earnings yesterday. Those earnings were consolidated earnings. And so , um , it made for a lot of work in the first part of the, just to, to understand how technical backend systems operated and , you know, accounting systems and, and platforms like that. So we could get our financials , uh , together and get, you know, projections out for the , for the current year. But , um, so far it's going great. It's good . We're learning a lot from that organization. And , um , you know, the customer stories are just fantastic. So it was cool to see, you know, in the NFL , the inspire change , uh , program is, is enabled by EverFi. So, you know, there's a lot of pride of being part of that ecosystem for us.

Speaker 1:

That's great. Yeah. The thing that is that excites me, you touched on a little bit is sort of the uniqueness of the impact as a service piece and the focus on outcomes and getting us closer to , uh , the end goal of sort of what we've always all been working for and what attracts a lot of employees to the company is that impact and getting, you know, solutions that are closer and have the more direct line instead of, you know, historic, a lot of our strength has been in fundraising, CRM, accounting, nonprofit , or nonprofit accounting, things of that nature. This is really about making an impact. And that's super exciting. Yeah, that's right . It interesting to see how it'll all come together.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, that's right. The impact is at one end of the spectrum, we're directly engaging with a student yeah . In a community, in a specific community to help them with a specific topic. You know, it may be around cyber bullying, for example, you know, how do you help a , a young student, a grade school student with, with a challenge like that at the same time, you're enabling the other end of the ecosystem, right. An organization that wants to do that in a community, but doesn't have the reach or the technology or the know how to do that. And we're helping them understand the impact report on that impact, which helps them in, in many of their ESG and CSR undertakings. Um, so it's, it's a pretty neat, pretty unique experience that, that , uh , they've created. Great .

Speaker 1:

Well, talk to me a little bit about how the pandemic has affected black, but how has, you know, what we've experienced over the past, you know, nearly two years now really affected the company and, and how it thinks about , um, what we do and, and you know, how we support our employees.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. Thank you. Rich. I don't think it's significantly different than what a lot of companies have experienced. There's a spectrum here. And I think as a tech company and given our size, we've been a little more nimble, but most organizations were fairly successful. We all patted ourselves on the back, but we , most of us had modern enough technology that we're able to shift to a work from home model. You know, my biggest concern when we started that was, you know, and the infrastructure in everybody's neighborhood actually sustained video calls when everybody's working from home. And , uh , that seemed to hold up. Alright . And so, and our employees , um, learned very quickly and, and , um, productivity really didn't suffer. So, you know, the first learning I think was really, it surprised us how seamless it was. Um , and so, you know, we , we started culturally changing some of our thinking around that. So it evolved from, we can actually do this to, you know, how can we help our customers very quickly. I think the first couple of weeks of the pandemic, we had unprecedented levels of customer engagement because customers were struggling with the same things we were. So how do we learn from them? How do we help them help each other? How do we help them with the things that we do well? And so that customer focus , um, was, was really neat. And we learned that you can do that in a virtual manner. Um, we learned that we can help customers in a virtual manner fundraise in different ways and things like that. So that's been great. Uh , but as it's started to evolve, you know, there's, there's a lot that's been learned. And again, I don't think Blackboard's unique in this, but the employee challenges, the employee experience is very diverse, right? Got many employees who , um, actually are in conflict with themselves. They love working from home because they have the opportunity to work out in the morning, right . At a different time between meetings, for example, or they've got a little more time with their children. They can, you know, drop their kids off at school, whereas before they may have had to have a nanny , uh , take care of some of those activities and they really love that part of it. And then , um, you know, it's a , a home learning day at school and their kids are in their living room and they're on a video conference and they hate it. Right. And it's stressful for them. And so , um, there's been a lot of work on the culture side to help employees understand the , the new norms are not as , um , rigid as norms in an office used to be. And that that's, that's not new to the pandemic. Right. That's been evolving three years. We had about a quarter of our employees before the pandemic that were already working remotely or virtually. And so we're just expanding that, but we're learning to do that better. We're learning how to leverage technology better. Um, there's a little bit of an arms race, which is good for us all , um, with, you know, providers in that space , um, you know , companies like Microsoft on the team side have innovated a lot more in the last , uh , couple of years than they did before. That's , uh , both good and challenging. We've gotta figure out how do we take advantage of capabilities like that? And so that's been good learning, but I think we're just now , um, to see what works and what doesn't, when you think about shaping culture virtually right. We've had employees now that have been with us for two years or a year that started virtually with the company that never physically met their , uh , manager that never actually have set foot in a black pod , uh , office space. And so those are things we'll continue to learn for the next period of time. You know, one thing we have learned is broadly , uh , many of our employees don't desire to come into the office, right . Even when they can. And, and I joke about it, but we actually , um , kind of shifted to a remote first workforce strategy recently. Um , we believe that's where the world is headed. In many cases, if you're working on an assembly line in manufacturing or in healthcare , you're , that's always gonna be a physical job, but , uh, for, you know, knowledge workers in the tech space , um, you know, we , we don't think we'll go back to the way things were. And so, you know, we've shifted from, you know, having dedicated office space to more , um , on demands type office space and, and things of that nature. But you know, where we do have offices , um, we don't see employees coming in that , that even, you know, live two miles away and , um, get together with their team for lunch on a regular basis. They, you know, they prefer to, to work virtually. And so employees are really embracing it. There's underneath all this. There's some very interesting dynamics with , um , the generation gaps and, and what's happening there. I think the way we learn is, is very different. Um , you know, baby boomers, if I remember the numbers, right, it's about , uh , 15,000 people a day are reaching retirement age. It's a much bigger population than gen X, gen X is already on the decline, believe it or not in the workforce. And so , um, you've got millennials quickly moving 2015 to 2025 from about a third of the workforce to about 75% of the workforce. And there's a skills gap there. And there's a just little number of employees got there, that's magnified in the tech space. Um , but underneath all that, there's some very nuanced , um, differences in how we learn gen C generation grew up with technology in their hand. I remember the day, you know, I've spent my career in technology. I love technology. I remember the day, my three year old , um , picked up an eye out off the coffee table and did like three things intuitively that I'd never thought of doing with an iPad. And so I , I think there's gonna be, as, as this workforce dynamic shifts, we're gonna see a , a real acceleration in , in how quickly we adapt to new technology, how we leverage new technology. And I think we're gonna see a heavy, heavy influx the workforce side and on a culture side that is enabled by technologies like AI. Yeah.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. I think we're still just scratching, not just the black bot , but in generally in the industry, just scratching the surface of how sort of workforce changes people's day to day lives, you know, that's right . Adapt to, to some of the change I'd like to say we're still sort of very much in that same mode that we were when we were in the office, which we're just, you know, doing things virtually rather than, you know, physically face to face that's right . That's but you know, you're starting to see some, some of those

Speaker 2:

Changes that's right. That's right.

Speaker 1:

Well, black, blood's been such a big part of the Charleston tech and business community over the years, you know, since moving here in the eighties, do you , what do you see about the shift to remote work, changing about that or what, you know, challenges or what opportunities does that create?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I think it's some of both, right. Yeah . On the , on the challenging side, we've been a large tech provider in the Charleston community. And , and certainly , um , there are some folks that have decided, you know, they were black pod for a long time, long tenured employees that didn't have the opportunity to live in Charleston and , um, changed jobs. And maybe they wanted to change jobs, but didn't have the opportunity cuz there just wasn't that role available to them in town. So, you know, we've seen some attrition around that and lost , um , some good talent, but the flip side of that is, you know, we're recruiting anywhere in the, in the country and, and you know, that's opened up the opportunity , um, to recruit some pretty great talent as well, which is good for the company. I think it's good for our growth and , and for employees and generally the , the cultural health, you know, if an employee's here because of the geography, not because they love and value the company, that's a little bit of a C I was concerned early on a little bit about that because, you know, I was like, well, what does that mean for Charleston? You know, Charleston's still our headquarters. We still got a , a large group of employees here, but what we're seeing too is it opens a whole nother door for employees who want to live in Charleston. Right. But don't, and so, you know, it lets an employee join the company and then decide they wanna relocate to Charleston. Um, it's certainly, there's an influx of , um , tech workers coming into the Charleston area. You can, I can tell you anecdotally, I don't have , I haven't done a , a formal study on this, but you know , every day it seems like I'm meeting somebody new that, you know, worked in New York or technically may still work in New York, but they bought a home here and they're living here. And so it's certainly opened a lot of doors to employees and I think it , it creates a great opportunity for us. Again, Blackboard's identity, Charleston's part of our identity. We're a global company as well. So we want to give back globally and , um , we wanna participate in our communities globally and, and Charleston's a big part of it. It's, you know , we have the largest employee population and um , you know , it's home to us. Yeah . It's our headquarters world headquarters. So , um, it's , it's generally been good. I think, you know, some of my early concerns have , have been alleviated and , um, but I , I do think culturally where we live and where our company is more and more will be , uh , two separate topics. And so, you know, black bot will have , um , groups of employees in locations we didn't before , um , that may never go into an office together, but we have opportunity to figure out how do they collaborate and , you know, is there an affinity group in , in the Philadelphia area for black bot employees to go collaborate? And then, you know, I think this , the other side of that is how do we collaborate more with like workers in our community as , um, the office no longer confines us. Right . Right. You know , sitting in, in this location where tech workers sit side by side at different companies, I think that's gonna be more and more the norm. Yeah . And , um, many of our collaborations , um , will actually get better when we're not collaborating inside constrained walls. Right. I'm talking to, to , to folks that work at different companies and have thought about the same problem differently.

Speaker 1:

Well, Todd , tell us where folks can go to learn more about black

Speaker 2:

Pod . Yeah. Our website's a great place to start. We've got , um, you know, www.black podd.com . Um, and , um, within that website, there's, you know, everything from content for our customers to , uh , content on our security program. If you're interested in, in how we built that, we've got a lot, we share there to, you know, our investor relations site, lot of good content on any company's investor relat site . It's a , it's a different perspective of the company, but I encourage all of my employees to look at the customer perspective and then go look at the investor perspective and how you think about that. And then from an employee perspective , um, we've got a fantastic platform for , uh, somebody that's thinking about Blackboard as a company to come and work at. So, you know, you can look at that into the career section of our website and , um, you know, talks a lot about our culture. Uh , um , we also have this , uh , report we issue every year that talks about what we do to give back to the community, our, our social responsibility , um, engagement there. And that's another great place to see, you know, real stories from customers and employees of ours about , uh , what it's like to, to be part of the black body ecosystem,

Speaker 1:

Todd lamp , chief information officer for , uh , thanks for joining us today. Todd,

Speaker 2:

Thank you rich. Have a great day.

Speaker 1:

Now we'll do it for our first episode back. I hope you enjoyed it. And I'm looking forward to bringing you another episode soon. Once again, I wanna thank our sponsors, Comcast and Charleston open source . And of course the Charleston digital corridor, subscribe to the show at apple podcast or wherever you find your favorite podcast. So you don't miss a single episode while you're there. Leave us a rating and review. So we know how we're doing and follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, and make sure you follow the Charleston digital corridor as well until next time I'm rich Conti and this has been the Charleston digital corridor tech life podcast .