Jennifer Barrows, Business Development Executive for Withum, talks about intellectual curiosity and the region’s opportunity to create the ecosystem that we want to see.
The Orlando innovation ecosystem is rich with high-caliber tech talent and boundary-pushing entrepreneurs. In an effort to foster a more connected community, the Orlando Tech Council presents “Profiles in Tech,” a new series highlighting the region’s top executives, innovators and movers and shakers whose ideas and companies are changing the world right from our own backyard.
This edition of Orlando Profiles in Tech features Jennifer Barrows, Business Development Executive at Withum, discusses intellectual curiosity and the region’s opportunity to create the ecosystem that we want to see.
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Have you experienced an “only in Orlando” moment? If so, what was it?
“Only in Orlando” moments happen frequently as Orlando is a unique place full of a diverse mix of wonderful people. Orlando is the only place where you can watch a rocket launch in the morning, visit a world-class theme park in the afternoon and attend a performance at the most technologically advanced performing arts center around that same evening.
What brought you to the Orlando region? What’s kept you here?
In the summer of 1998, I moved here from Ohio when my husband accepted a new job opportunity here. I was able to transfer to Orlando with the same company I worked for in Ohio and we began to enjoy the Florida sunshine. We knew a few people, and I had family here which made the move more comfortable. We have stayed here because of the constant growth and excitement around the arts, food, business and of course, technology. As race fans, being within a short drive to Daytona or Sebring has been an extra bonus.
What makes Orlando the right place for your business? How does being in Orlando contribute to your business success or personal growth?
The growth in the area makes Orlando the perfect location for Withum to provide business advisory, tax and audit resources to business owners and corporations who have outgrown their first accountants and do not need a huge firm. As Orlando continues to diversify its business base, we see endless opportunities to provide assistance and strategies to companies looking for a strong future in Central Florida and beyond, the latter of which provides opportunities for our international resources. In the area of tech specifically, Withum is extremely strong. Our Technology niche employs more people than some firms employ in total. Our tech niche includes FinTech, SportsTech and other specific areas of technology. It’s an amazingly talented group of people.
What makes the Orlando tech ecosystem unique?
The most unique aspect – and maybe the most challenging as well – is that Orlando has the opportunity to create the tech ecosystem that we want to have. Unlike Silicon Valley where the stage has been set for some time, Orlando is building our tech ecosystem with passionate and engaged members of the community.
What‘s one thing you wish Orlando had? What will it take to make that a reality?
A broader mindset for technology. I wish the local community understood the impact that building out a tech ecosystem can bring and that we need the entire community to rally together to support the investors, technicians and users. Technology is everywhere. This was best demonstrated in the past 16 months when many people had to rely on technology for everything from groceries, to work, to being able to video chat with a loved one far away. To make this a reality, we need the broader community to work together to engage with the tech ecosystem and to not think of technology only as something overly complicated and distant. We need everyone to get out and be willing to learn. As a friend of mine says, “to be intellectually curious”. If we all embrace it, the investments will come.
If you had to describe to an out-of-town friend what it’s like to live, work, learn and play in Orlando, what would you say?
It’s having the opportunity to be your best self every day.
The Orlando Tech Council is composed of private industry, resource organizations and public partners that work to develop new programs with the core objectives: strengthen the Orlando region’s innovation resources, create new opportunities for companies to scale, and to amplify the region’s success stories, raising the global profile of Orlando as a leading community for entrepreneurship and innovation.