Applications are now open to take part in the first class of the Iowa Technology Leadership Institute, a five-month program designed by the Technology Association of Iowa to provide business and leadership education to technical employees seeking to climb the professional ladder in Iowa’s technology community.

The first cohort’s programming will focus on the soft skills professionals need to succeed in high-level organizational leadership, TAI President Brian Waller said.

“Information technology professionals in Iowa are so important to their company, but I think we’ve learned through the pandemic that they’re essential to Iowa’s economy as well,” Waller said. “We need to be focused on creating the next generation of leaders.”

Michelle Bates, founder and CEO of SkyPrairie Inc., and Dave Tucker, partner at Next Level Ventures, will serve as technology executives in residence throughout the program, which will host in-person events once a month across the state.

The program is targeting professionals who may have risen through the ranks at their current organization for 10 years or more, developing an internal network but with less opportunity to meet professionals in similar roles in other industries. Applications are due Sept. 3; 25 participants will be notified of their selection by early October.

“This is going to produce a whole network of people that can cross-pollinate from company to company at a younger stage in their career,” Waller said.

Career development opportunities will be a priority for TAI’s 25th anniversary next year, Waller added.

“We like to say there’s no such thing as business, there’s only people,” Waller said. “We think the more that people get together, the more that we share knowledge about cybersecurity, ransomware, and emerging technologies. … We’ll be better off as a state if our technology executives are communicating as one.”