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JBJ 2020 Tech Leader: Bernard Schmidt

From the Jacksonville Business Journal

Every day, men and women across the First Coast are making decisions about technology that are helping their companies and the broader economy grow. Oftentimes, those decisions are made behind the scenes — but those decision makers deserve a turn in the spotlight. Selected with the help of local technology professionals, these honorees were chosen based on their innovation in strategic thought and planning, success in implementing technological solutions, management effectiveness and community involvement. This Q&A is one of a series on the First Coast's 2020 Tech Leaders.

Bernard Schmidt, Vice President of Automation & Innovation at the Jacksonville Transportation Authority

How do you keep your team focused on being creative and finding the next step? I think the first thing is, I give them an open canvas. I encourage them to take risks. It’s a little bit different because I’m coming from the private sector so I understand the value of leaning in, taking a bit of risk and also that there’s going to be some mistakes that are made. We do due diligence to avoid making those critical mistakes but overall, we encourage risk taking. 

As you look at Jacksonville, what does the community need to grow on the technological front? Jacksonville is staring to be a technology hub. I think [the city and Jax Chamber] started to get the right recipe and formula to attract the tech community, the business community — everything from Amazon to small tech companies and startups are now here in Jacksonville. I believe that work is being done, I believe the right incentives are being provided and so, I think you will see more and more tech companies move in. 

When you talk about what needs a little bit of effort, I think continuing development on the labor force, making sure that our colleges, our universities are nurturing the kind of labor force that we need, that companies will want to move here because they know they can access that sort of labor force.