News / Member Spotlight

Member Spotlight: C4ITA

  • Utsav Gandhi

Please introduce yourself and share a bit about your background: what made you want to get involved in the education and talent development space more broadly?

    My name is Anand Setty, and I am the Founder and President of Center for IT Talent Acceleration (C4ITA), a Chicago based non-profit organization with the goal of helping our underserved youth secure equitable access to high value careers in the software industry. We aim to create 500 software developers in the next 5 years in the Chicagoland area, with the help of a public-private partnership model.

    I am a Tufts University alum where I completed my graduate studies in Chemical Engineering. Chicago became my home, with it welcomed me with open arms to begin my career 31 years ago. Prior to founding C4ITA, I worked for 30 years as an engineer, business leader, and as the global head of HR in the software industry. About 24 months ago, I decided to hang-up my corporate hat and “pay it forward” by starting C4ITA.

    What motivated you to create C4ITA?

    I come from very humble beginnings. I owe my success to hundreds of amazing mentors and supporters from all walks of life and from around the globe.

    The digital divide is increasing in the United States. When I discovered that my ideas and experience can help close that gap, I decided to move forward with a three-pronged approach: elevating equity; helping employers; and serving local communities. With the support of many Chicagoans and my amazing board, C4ITA was created two years ago as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization!

    Can you elaborate on the apprenticeship program?

    SDA (Software Development Apprenticeship) is a two-year employer-sponsored “earn while you learn” apprenticeship program designed to simultaneously do paid work, and attend full time college in the software field.

    Students learn 15-17 computer related courses during this period. This is a result of a partnership between Wilbur Wright College (City Colleges of Chicago) and C4ITA.

    Students get an Associate Degree from City Colleges of Chicago. From an employer perspective, the program is designed to help employers progressively transition the apprentice into the high value software development career in their organization. More information at www.c4ita.org

    [click here for more information]

    What are the key components for a successful apprenticeship program like C4ITA? How do you identify the partners you wish to collaborate with?

    We believe that creating a full supply chain of talent -- starting from the school and community partners, through college and post-collegiate employment, and to support on an ongoing basis via professional development -- is the key to successful apprenticeship programs.

    Just as “it takes a village to raise a child”, it takes partnership between high schools, colleges, employers, and community organizations to nurture an apprentice to attain career success and build community affluence.

    We look for partners that are open to collaborate across the supply chain, while leveraging their own core strength, for the greater good.

    What lessons do you think the broader talent development landscape and education community should take away from the last year of and the COVID-19 pandemic?

    The industry is looking at all of us, to innovate quickly and accelerate the development of the talent for the new normal.

    While the pandemic brought about unprecedented changes and hardships overnight, it also brought to surface the strength of technology-based infrastructure that the United States and the rest of the world have developed over the past five or six decades. This allowed many to go to remote operations literally overnight.

    As a silver lining to this dark cloud, in the past 12 months we have all become aware of this gap and corrective actions to advance equity in this space have accelerated in an unprecedented manner. That being said, there is a long way to go.

    What short- and long-term goals do you have for C4ITA?

    Our short term goal is to start the June 2021 apprenticeship batch with at least 24 students.

    Our next goal is to create 500 software developers in the next 5 years in Chicagoland.

    To accomplish this goal, we are inviting education partners of CLX to nominate 2021 high school seniors for this program, at www.c4ita.org.

    As a newer member to CLX, what excites you most about joining this community?

    The common purpose of my fellow CLX members is the most exciting part of being a member. I look forward to collaborating where possible and to do good in the community.

    What are your reflections on the broader higher education and learning community in Chicago, the partners you have worked with and the talent that is here? What do you hope CLX can provide or continue to provide in this space?

    Chicagoland has a high demand for every flavor of the services that the education and learning community has to offer. We need even more offerings, since the demand also comes with many flavors.