President, Suncoast Developers Guild
The mantra that guides Toni Warren’s life is simple to say, harder to execute: If it’s time to change, do it. Invest in yourself.
After working in event marketing, for example, Warren realized she wanted to make a big career change. She was also interested in a better work-life balance and wanted to get into technology. So she invested in an MBA at the University of Tampa.
Today, as president of Suncoast Developers Guild, a three-month immersive computer coding school in St. Petersburg, Warren encourages others to invest in education and make a career shift. The school, which Warren says is the state’s first nonprofit coding school, opened its first class this summer, once it received licensing from the Florida Department of Education.
Backers of the guild and others in the community encouraged Warren to take the position after her former employer, the Iron Yard, a national for-profit coding school, closed all 15 of its locations last year. As campus director, Warren says the company’s Tampa location had the highest enrolled campus at the time of its closure.
Now, Warren’s top priority is bootstrapping a grassroots marketing campaign to spread the word about Suncoast Developers Guild. She wants to let people know it’s possible to make a career shift — and have access to a starting salary of $40,000 to $60,000 a year after completing the three-month program. She also wants to publicize the benefits of the school being focused on the Tampa Bay market, rather than offering a canned national curriculum.
“I never saw myself running a code school,” Warren admits. “But the opportunity arose, and I believed in our results, believed in the mission, and the community asked me to step up, so I’m embracing my role as a social entrepreneur.”