UPDATE: Tech entrepreneur Braun named DWD commissioner

State Rep. Steve Braun, an entrepreneur who sold a publicly traded technology company a decade ago, will take over leadership of the Indiana Department of Workforce Development in late November, Gov. Mike Pence announced Thursday morning.

Braun, a Republican who represents District 24, which includes Boone and Hamilton counties, will succeed current commissioner Scott Sanders on Nov. 24.

Sanders will remain with the DWD as senior deputy commissioner, providing oversight of the Unemployment Insurance division. Sanders had been a DWD deputy commissioner for nearly two years before being appointed commissioner in May 2012 by former Gov. Mitch Daniels.

Braun founded Braun Technology Group (later Braun Consulting) in Chicago in 1993 and took it public in 1999. By 2001, the company had 13 U.S. offices and more than 700 employees. The company remained headquartered in Chicago, but Braun operated out of the Indianapolis office.

In 2004, Minneapolis-based Fair Isaac Corp. acquired Braun Consulting for about $30 million. Braun stayed with the company for two more years to manage its worldwide consulting group.

The Harvard University graduate, who lives in Zionsville, remains active in local tech circles as an angel investor. He also owns businesses in real estate and agriculture, according to his official state website.

“With expertise as both a public servant and a successful entrepreneur, Steve Braun has the unique background and skills necessary to continue to drive Indiana’s workforce development and pair it with innovative career and education opportunities for Hoosiers,” Pence said in a prepared statement. “Under his leadership, Indiana’s Department of Workforce Development will work to align its efforts with the Indiana Career Council and Regional Works Councils in order to ensure career pathways and readiness for all Hoosiers. I am grateful for Steve’s willingness to serve and look forward to his insights as we strive to make Indiana a state that works.”

Braun has been a state rep since 2012. He will appear as a unopposed candidate for re-election in November but will step down after the election, the state said. He could not withdraw from the ballot because the July 15 deadline had already passed.

“I’ve been distinctly privileged to represent the people of Boone and Hamilton counties during my time in the Indiana General Assembly,” Braun said in a written statement. “The opportunity to lead the Department of Workforce Development will let me serve the entire state, and as I finish out my current term, I look forward to continuing my public service in a new capacity.”

The Department of Workforce development oversees job-training and employment programs, and runs the state's unemployment benefits system.

Sanders' move to a new position is not a demotion, Kara Brooks, a spokeswoman for the governor, told The Statehouse File. In fact, Sanders will continue to be paid about $120,000 a year.

“In his new role, Scott will have the opportunity to focus more on his expertise of unemployment insurance, which he helped to modernize and put Indiana in the forefront nationally in this area,” Brooks said. “Steve’s strength is in the workforce space. The roles will allow each to maximize their strengths.”

Braun will earn $150,000 a year.

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