I was delighted to see the recent appointment of Kelly Schulz as CEO for the Maryland Tech Council. Ms. Schulz has played a prominent role in Maryland politics for many years, most recently as a candidate for Governor. Prior to her run for Governor, she led workforce and innovation initiatives as a cabinet member at the state level, helping to claim for Maryland a cyber leadership position among the tech hubs in the nation. Tech innovation has been a driving force to economic prosperity and the support of entrepreneurs and start-ups is essential to keeping that prosperity going, especially in these more difficult economic times. I think Ms Schulz gets this as her prior experience as a partner in a small cybersecurity firm would suggest. But I was very interested to learn how she will leverage her experience in this new endeavor which could help ensure continued success for cyber companies in Maryland. So learn about her priorities for the Maryland Tech Council and what types of support you can receive as a cyber person or company in Maryland in the interview with Active Cyber™ below.
Spotlight on Kelly Schulz
» Title: CEO Maryland Tech Council
» Website: https://mdtechcouncil.com/
» LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kelly-schulz-24b4b68
Read her bio below.
December 8, 2022
Chris Daly, Active Cyber™ – What is your background and how has it prepared you to lead an innovation-based trade association?
Kelly Schulz, CEO Maryland Tech Council (MTC) – I served as a partner in the cybersecurity firm CyberWolf before deciding to enter public service. I was honored to represent Frederick and Carroll Counties in the Maryland House of Delegates from 2011 to 2015. I later served as Secretary of the Maryland Department of Labor and Secretary of the Maryland Department of Commerce, and those roles enabled me to champion workforce development and economic growth across Maryland.
This experience in both the private and public sector gave me an invaluable vantage point into Maryland’s innovation ecosystem. I have seen firsthand the interplay between talent, entrepreneurship, state and federal agencies, and how they each advance innovation in Maryland. The innovation community in our state needs a unifying voice to advance its interests. At MTC, our mission is to be that voice.
Active Cyber™ – What are your top 3 priorities for the remainder of this year and the start of 2023?
Ms. Kelly Schulz – My foremost priority is to listen. As the new CEO, I am meeting everyday with MTC members to learn about their priorities and aspirations on a range of issues, including access to capital. The more I understand where our cybersecurity companies want to go in the future, the more MTC can advocate on their behalf in 2023 and beyond.
Aside from listening to our members, we are also preparing the Maryland General Assembly’s legislative session starting in January and being the voice of tech and life sciences in Annapolis.
Active Cyber™ – What are some ways that MTC advocates for its member cyber companies and what types of outcomes does MTC hope to achieve through its advocacy program?
Ms. Kelly Schulz – MTC advocates for cyber’s interests at the local, state, and federal level. We helped enact the Buy Maryland Cybersecurity Tax Credit, which enables Maryland companies to apply for up to $50,000 in tax credits if they buy cybersecurity products or services from a Maryland company. We also supported the expansion of the Innovation Investment Tax Credit, which covers qualified investments in innovative companies including cyber companies, and the Cybersecurity Public Service Scholarship Program, which helps Maryland students obtain scholarship support to pursue education and training in cybersecurity.
Active Cyber™ – What are some examples of successes when it comes to MTC support for cybersecurity start-ups over the past 3 years?
Ms. Kelly Schulz – We have had a lot of success with our executive advisory programs that pair tech startup executives with seasoned advisors at no cost. Our Venture Mentoring Service has enabled tech and life science companies, including several cyber startups, to tap into the experience of veteran executive mentors who advise them on fundraising prep, remote sales, finance and accounting, founders’ issues, and more. Fundraising prep is a critical service we provide, and companies that have participated in our Venture Mentoring Service have gone on to raise more than $125 million in capital and grants.
Active Cyber™ – What stages of a start-up life cycle does MTC look to provide help?
Ms. Kelly Schulz – Companies of all sizes can find value by joining the Maryland Tech Council. Smaller startups benefit from our 80+ networking events per year, executive mentoring programs, and cost-savings program on everything from business insurance to office supplies. Larger companies are often attracted to the opportunity to grow Maryland’s innovation community, foster stronger connections between industry and policymakers, and help shape the agenda of key events like our Digital Transformation Summit.
Active Cyber™ – What role does MTC play in connecting new cyber talent with opportunities?
Ms. Kelly Schulz – Perhaps the greatest value MTC provides is the networking opportunities. We host more than 80 events each year, including several related to cyber, and I can’t underestimate the value members get from networking with one another. We always encourage younger professionals to attend our events, get to know their colleagues in the industry, and they can see real benefits to their career.
Active Cyber™ – How do you feel the “work-from-anywhere” economy will affect the venture funding and success of Maryland-based cyber companies?
Ms. Kelly Schulz – The transition to remote work creates incredible opportunities for recruiting talent, but it also creates security vulnerabilities. Employers are grappling with remote workers using unsecured home networks and hardware, in addition to rising phishing scams. That means the business case for investing in cyber security products and solutions is only getting stronger.
The economy as a whole is still facing inflation and other challenges, so I can’t make predictions about venture funding’s near-term future. But, I know that Maryland’s cybersecurity ventures have the talent and solutions to remain a national leader.
Active Cyber™ – How would you rate Maryland’s ability to attract and grow cybersecurity-based companies? What are the key factors that led you to this rating?
Ms. Kelly Schulz – I am bullish on Maryland as a long-term hub for cyber talent and innovation. Maryland led the nation in tech workforce growth in 2021, according to TECNA. Our cybersecurity workforce is stronger than Virginia, California, and Texas, according to Cyber Seek. Hosting federal agencies NSA, DISA and U.S. Cyber Command means we have tremendous collaboration between public and private sector cybersecurity talent. With several workforce development initiatives adding to our talent pipeline, Maryland will continue to be a leader in cyber innovation.
Active Cyber™ – What do you see as the toughest cybersecurity challenges facing organizations today? How does MTC align to these challenges?
Ms. Kelly Schulz – If you have an internet connection, you are a target for cyber criminals. Small businesses are especially attractive targets because they’re less likely to have the security infrastructure of larger businesses. In short, cybercriminals are counting on you to ignore the threat. One of the biggest challenges is encouraging employees to use good cyber hygiene, such as how to identify a phishing scam, and investing in antivirus software.
At MTC, our role is to be a facilitator for this kind of education. We have hosted keynote discussion where industry experts explore security in a digital world and the risks associated with ransomware.
Active Cyber™ – What types of collaborative support can your members expect to receive from joining the tech council?
Ms. Kelly Schulz – Creating a culture of innovation in Maryland is at the heart of what we do. The Maryland Tech Council helps do this in a number of ways. We advocate for cyber innovation and cyber education in Annapolis and Washington. We produce professional education opportunities like our Digital Transformation Summit that help companies manage the digital transformation in a secure way. In addition to our executive mentoring programs, we support our members by offering cost savings on products and services cyber companies need.
We are deeply committed to helping our members succeed, and collaboration between MTC and our member companies is critical to our mission.
Thank you Ms. Schulz for this informative update on your priorities for the Maryland Tech Council. I can see that 2023 will be a very busy year for you and a fruitful one for your members as your advocacy and education programs keep Maryland’s cyber companies at the forefront of the industry. I look forward to following your progress in 2023 and attending some of your sponsored events as well!
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|About Kelly Schulz Kelly M. Schulz is a former cybersecurity small business partner, state legislator, and two-time state cabinet secretary, and now serves as CEO of the Maryland Tech Council. As Secretary of the Maryland Department of Commerce from 2019 to 2021, Schulz oversaw the state’s primary economic development agency, responsible for attracting new businesses, promoting innovation, and accelerating job growth. Under her leadership, the department served as the largest state financial assistance resource for Maryland companies impacted by COVID-19. She previously served as Secretary of the Maryland Department of Labor from 2015 to 2018. During her tenure, Maryland’s apprenticeship program grew to its highest level since 2008, with more than 10,000 apprentices statewide. Schulz served in the Maryland House of Delegates from 2011 to 2015, focusing on legislation relating to business, banking, finance, economic development, and more. Prior to entering public service, she served as program manager for a defense contractor and then became a partner in opening the cybersecurity firm CyberWolf. Schulz, who was a candidate for governor in 2022, lives in Frederick, Maryland with her husband.|