The award show was virtual this year, but that didn’t stop Minnesota’s tech enthusiasts from coming together online to celebrate the innovators and organizations that carried us through 2020.

Along with the companies and lifetime achievement recipients that took home Teknes that night, three “rising stars” within our technology community were recognized and commended for the impact they make every day within their organizations, for their clients and the next generation. Here’s what you need to know about these promising young professionals who are sure to make a difference.  

 Michelle Hermanson – Land O’ Lakes, Senior IT Manager – Digital Enablement

Nominated by Teddy Bekele, Chief Technology Officer

Michelle started with Land O’Lakes in January 2013 and established herself as a critical player right off the bat, strengthening the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform (Salesforce) across the Land O’Lakes enterprise.

“Her ability to lead technology teams to execute on business strategy is exceptional, and respected by both technology and business leaders,” Teddy Bekele said.

Recently, she’s acted as a functional and technical lead on all Land O’Lakes E-Business efforts, including e-Commerce, marketing analytics, customer experience, and omni-channel. These have proven critical components of the company’s digital success, especially through the COVID pandemic.

Michelle’s passion for supporting the development of younger IT Talent is evident through her active engagement with Land O’Lakes’ Talent Acceleration (TAP) Program which strives to build future IT leaders by providing a 2-year rotational program across all areas of IT as well as several other recruitment activities.

Outside of her work with Land O’Lakes she volunteers with Second Harvest Heartland, Feed My Starving Children and other activities through her church. She sees to all of this while raising her three children and managing a household.

“I’m super honored to receive this award and also see the amazing talent across the Twin Cities Tech community,” Michelle said.


 Ja’keh (Key) Clark – Best Buy, Associate Digital Engineer II

Nominated by Kevin Boeckenstedt, Senior Director of Technology Transformation

Ja’keh’s interest in building websites started when they were a kid and they pursued that passion for coding all the way to graduate school.

Now a software engineer at Best Buy, Ja’keh is channeling that enthusiasm to help integrate IoT technology into the company’s retail site. The web design they created facilitates and simplifies customers’ connection to Geek Squad Agents, thereby improving the overall experience and CRM.

“Since joining our team (and Best Buy) approximately two years ago, Key has made numerous impactful contributions to team goals,” said Scott Schmidt, Ja’keh’s manager. “They have also shown an incredible drive to learn as much as possible – not only in the engineering space, but also in areas such as design and leadership.”

Ja’keh has demonstrated said leadership by representing Best Buy in the community and has participated on a panel at the Blacks in Tech conference (BITCON), spoke to the Silicon North Stars and was featured in a Best Buy video about the importance of Black representation in tech for Black History Month.

Mentorship, it seems, is at the core of what they do. Grateful for the support they received along their educational and professional journey, Ja’keh takes the time to give back by mentoring students and providing members of the community free resume writing and career counseling sessions during their lunch hours.

“I want to help those early in their careers transition to tech jobs that are meaningful to them,” Ja’keh said and offered this advice to other aspiring tech professionals: “Don’t wait for confidence or validation to come as a prerequisite to act on your dreams. Just find endeavors you truly believe in and run towards them. Do your best and trust the process and journey you’re on.”


 Tarah Beyers – Target , Lead Product Owner

Nominated by Jake Krings, VP of Marketing Technology

Tarah joined Target through the Target Technology Leadership (TLP) Program after graduating with a degree in software engineering. In a few short years, she’s earned multiple promotions and has made a tremendous impact on Target’s Women in Science and Technology (TWIST) organization.

Her passion for getting young women and students excited about roles in technology has led her to partner with the Minnesota Technology Association (MnTech), Aspirations in Computing and other business leaders to invent forums like the “Prepare to Launch” series.

Additionally, Tarah has created opportunities for others by championing internal boot camps at Target to get non-engineers more exposed to programing, going out of her way to then mentor up and coming engineers who show interest. Her recent participation in the MnTech ACE Leadership program, which has been a spring board for more involvement in the community, is just one of many steps Tarah is sure to take toward her leadership career.

“She has an incredibly bright future and will make huge impacts in our community,” said Jake Krings.

Michelle, Ja’keh and Tarah will be featured in the Dec/ Jan issue of Twin Cities Business Magazine along with all the 2020 Tekne Winners and Lifetime Achievement recipients. Be sure to check it out!