Tech Talk: Sustainability through Technology Innovation

Join MnTech for another edition of Tech Talk, where speakers will give short presentations on salient topics in the technology community. Our presenters and panel discussion will highlight how AI, ML, and other technology innovations are improving the environment, our food system, and bringing hope for the future of our planet.

Location: Land O'Lakes

Event Sponsors:

 


Meet Molly Doyle: Vice President of Community and Member Engagement

Meet Molly Doyle: MnTech’s New Vice President of Community & Member Engagement

The Minnesota Technology Association is excited to announce that Molly Doyle has joined the staff as Vice President of Community and Member Engagement.

Molly joins MnTech with more than 20 years of experience in serving Minnesota technology companies through IT consulting solution sales, operations, and delivery leadership roles.

Molly was the leader of a locally owned software quality assurance consulting company for more than 10 years, during which time she was highly engaged in the MHTA/MnTech community as a sponsor, a TEKNE award finalist, and an ACE program graduate.

As Molly joins the team, we caught up with her to learn more about her background, skills, and interests.

Tell us about your professional background. What experiences are you drawing from as you step into this new role?

“I have been working in IT consulting sales and operations leadership for more than 20 years, primarily with companies in Minnesota. My job has required that I stay on top of technology changes and industry drivers so that I can effectively address my client’s need to innovate or solve a challenge. With the dynamic nature of the technology industry, staying informed is no small task! I have experienced first-hand the power of a professional association as a place for community, a place to connect, to learn from each other, to grow our careers, and to discover new and innovative ideas that are shaping our industry.”

What drew you to MnTech?

“I have been involved with MnTech most of my career and was heavily engaged while I was leading a local consulting company (BenchmarkQA) for more than 10 years. We were very active in the MnTech community and the relationships we built directly helped grow our business.  I have always thought very highly of the organization and I had reached a point where I wanted to go to work on addressing some of the constraints and issues in our society. The lack of local technology talent and limited representation of professionals from diverse or disadvantaged backgrounds is truly an urgent and pressing limitation on the ability for local companies to thrive and grow. There are some wonderful programs trying to help close these gaps. I want to empower those programs through the programming and sponsorship provided by MnTech and also help advocate for systemic changes in how we educate and support the success of our evolving workforce to meet the needs of Minnesota companies.”

MnTech is investing heavily into its community and member engagement, and we’re excited to have you on board. Do you have any goals in your sights as you start?

“The timing is so exciting! We are coming out of our collective “Covid coma”. People are hungry for opportunities to re-connect, meet in person, re-invest in their career and contribute to their community in ways that make a real impact. I will be taking Community and Member Engagement off Joel Crandall’s very large plate, so that he will be able to focus 100% on our mission critical and very exciting workforce development initiatives. I will work closely with our event and planning committees to develop and provide fantastic programs that drive record setting attendance and bring a whole slew of new companies into our membership. I also expect to be able to reinvigorate some communities and programs such as Tech for Good and… drum role… I’m bringing TEKNE back! Yeah!”

Outside of work, what hobbies and passions do you have?

“I am dedicated to being a great Mom and invested in supporting my big loud family. I love to listen to live music, play golf, kayak, play tennis and travel. I am always listening to podcasts, and learning. I am excited for the opportunity to learn from each member of our MnTech community!”


You can connect with Molly on LinkedIn or find her on our staff page.


Tech Talk - Building Your Future Workforce

In this inaugural “Tech Talk”, MnTech shines a bright light on an urgent workforce issue and hopes to inspire hiring managers and technology leaders into action with new ideas and approaches.


Jumpstart – Breaking into Tech: Insights from Industry Experts on Building Your Career Path

MnTech's Jumpstart initiative supports Bootcamp students and recent graduates from diverse backgrounds in their efforts to enter the tech industry. The career expo, career panel, and networking session are all opportunities for attendees to learn about different career options, hear from industry professionals, and connect with potential employers. Will need separate registrations for program participants and employers set to attend.


Reflecting on the First Year of Tech on Tap

Reflecting on the First Year of Tech on Tap 

By – Keegan Carda, Marketing and Communications Manager, MnTech

In the spring of 2022, MnTech returned to in-person events after more than two years of virtual programming. As we began gathering people once again, we quickly realized a need among the Twin Cities technology community: connection. People wanted a way to grow professionally that was deeper than a connection on LinkedIn. 

A central pillar of MnTech’s efforts is community, so it felt natural to create a space for people to build ties. In September, we hosted our first Tech on Tap, a casual networking event that rotates between the many breweries in the Twin Cities area. The goal of this event was to grow and strengthen the connections between technologists in the community and foster a stronger tech ecosystem.  

Although it is new, Tech on Tap has proven to be a success. We have had hundreds of attendees at our events and organizations willing to lend their support through sponsorship. Over the past several months of planning and hosting Tech on Tap, I have learned several lessons about building community, hosting events, and the value of networking.

In a post-COVID world, people’s motivations to attend an event have changed 

Although some companies are making headlines for mandating all employees return to the office, 58% employees are still working from home for part or all of their week.1 Previously, when most workers were in the office full time, an out of office event was a chance to leave the office early, meet coworkers, and do something for your professional development; a win-win-win.  

Today, many of the draws that pulled people to work events are gone. Leaving the home office now seems like a much bigger task. Why drive across town when you have already felt the benefit of giving up your commute?  

Overcoming the inertia of leaving the home office is difficult, and it takes the right combination of factors to draw a crowd.  

Despite this inertia, people are eager to get together 

We found that the casual atmosphere of Tech on Tap has worked well for us, as has the variety of new locations. A free beer never hurt either.  

We honed in on networking as an activity to pursue because we noticed a desire for people to gather and connect. Finding a job, a new business partner, or perhaps a new service, is much easier when you can gather in person.  

Over the last year, the employee-dominated job market has reinforced the need for networking opportunities as well. Now that employees have more leverage, networking may also feel easier and less intimidating as individuals see options in front of them rather than obstacles. 

The turnout at Tech on Tap has proven this to be true, and it’s clear people still see value in gathering in person. 

Creating spaces where people can build an informal community works

As mentioned above, MnTech is focused on strengthening the tech community in Minnesota. Throughout the several Tech on Tap events, I have seen numerous familiar faces that are attending these events regularly.  

Creating a space for individuals to find a sense of community is extremely valuable. Minnesota’s companies succeed when employees have access to a strong community of technologists who are facing similar challenges, can provide opportunities for others, and share knowledge with each other. 

Tech on Tap has proven itself to be a valuable resource for those looking to network and grow within their community.   

It is a strong tool for talent development 

MnTech has been vocal about the need for more technologists in our region, and about the benefits of sourcing talent from non-traditional pathways such as bootcamps or academies. As Tech on Tap has grown, we have seen attendees who span the entire spectrum of career stages, from executives to recent graduates.  

Included in our attendees has been cohorts from Prime Digital Academy and Summit Academy, two Twin Cities-based bootcamps that train students in in-demand skills like software development. Tech on Tap has proven to be a valuable resource for these students to connect with hiring managers, executives, and HR leaders at no cost. 

Creating a new event from scratch is not without its challenges. The first year of Tech on Tap has taught us many things, and we are excited about the year to come for this event series. To find more information about Tech on Tap, visit MnTech’s events calendar or follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter 


  1. “Americans are embracing flexible work—and they want more of it” – McKinsey https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/real-estate/our-insights/americans-are-embracing-flexible-work-and-they-want-more-of-it 


WLiT Logo

WLiT Recap - Bridging the Gap: Moving from Stuck to Success with Jaime Taets

WLiT Recap – Bridging the Gap: Moving from Stuck to Success with Jaime Taets

Jaime Taets; Author, public speaker, podcast host, and CEO of Keystone Group International

American workers are in a unique position at the moment. On paper, many have a good job and a good salary, but we are seeing workers who are dissatisfied, burnt out, and feeling stuck. To help address this growing problem, the Women Leading in Technology group brought in Jaime Taets, the CEO of Keystone Group International, to share advice on moving from stuck to success.

Just how big is this problem? During her keynote speech, Jaime cited research from the Society of Human Resource Management, which found that one in four Americans dread going to work. This is causing millions of Americans to mentally check out or leave their role with no other opportunities lined up, and it especially affects women in the workforce.

According to Jaime, this dissatisfaction is due to a gap between organizations that are striving for innovation with limited resources, and employees who are often overworked and striving for meaningful connections.

Jaime’s goal is to help others bridge this gap, get themselves unstuck, and launch their career and personal lives forward despite obstacles in the way. During her keynote, Jaime identified five main factors that keep us stuck and offered insights on how to combat them.

    1. Fear

Fear is ubiquitous and keeps us from pursuing our goals. Jaime challenged the audience to consider what their goals might be if fear weren’t an option, which for her, are climbing Mount Kilimanjaro and appearing on the Today Show. Not only will this shift in mindset help you, but it can also influence those around you to pursue opportunities fearlessly as well.

    1. Voices

Who do you let influence you? Jaime challenged the audience to be mindful of which voices you listen to and which you respectfully ignore. A well-meaning family member or friend may have a different risk profile than you and their fear over your decision may influence you. Jaime recommends listening to the people who are in the arena with you.

    1. Comparison

Every day, we are inundated with reminders of others who seem to be more accomplished or successful than we are. Jaime challenged the audience to view these people as inspiration rather than someone to be beaten.

    1. Perfectionism

As a self-proclaimed recovering perfectionist, Jaime reminded the audience that there will never be a right time to do something. Choosing progress over perfection is a key step in becoming unstuck.

    1. Finish Line Syndrome

Your end goal may be so far away that it can seem impossible to reach from where you are now. Jaime advised the audience to figure out the milestones and small steps that will get you to your goal and celebrate the small wins when they come.

Knowing what is holding you back is a critical piece to moving forward. In the second half of her presentation, Jaime offered tips and tactics that the audience can implement in their every day life.

Reframe Your Perspective

When you are facing an obstacle, reframing your perspective can help you figure out how to move past it. Jaime suggests physically shifting your perspective by going for a walk, attending different events than you normally would, and pursuing discomfort to help you find answers you normally wouldn’t see.

Embrace Obstacles

Additionally, shifting your perspective to embrace obstacles as part of your journey, rather than being in the way of your journey can make you more resilient. Lastly, recognize that being stuck may be the catalyst you need to become unstuck. The challenge you are going through might be necessary to push you in to your next period of growth.

Jaime’s speech comes at a critical time in the technology workforce. The technology sector is facing serious talent shortages and the COVID-19 pandemic caused many women to leave the workforce. Women Leading in Technology (WLiT) and its Board of Directors are grateful for Jaime lending her time and sharing her timely knowledge with this group. Her advice and goal of helping others succeed aligns with the goals of WLiT, which are to connect, educate, and reach back to women in technology. Learn more about this community on the MnTech site and keep an eye out for the 2023 event series.


Recapping Women Leading in Technology: Retraining Our Networking Muscle

You may have heard the phrase “it’s not what you know, but who you know.” Now more than ever, having a strong professional network is a vital piece in advancing careers and conducting business.

A connection through your network can help you land a new job, find a great employee, offer insight to a challenging business problem, or simply provide advice.

Over more than two years of social distancing and remote work, our networking skills may have become rusty. Our most recent Women Leading in Technology (WLiT) event gathered four expert networkers and female technologists to share insights on retraining our networking muscle.

Joining the panel was Juliet Fox, Account Executive at Harbinger Partners, Natalie Gilliam, Product Operations Manager at Digineer, Jen Simon, Sr. Global Manufacturing Project Specialist at Microsoft, and Rosie Nestigen, Tech Transformation Director at Best Buy. Jade Denson, Sr. Manager of Tech Talent Programs at Target, moderated the panel.

 

The panel discussion kicked off with a discussion of best practices for effective networking. Jen shared that she relies heavily on LinkedIn as a tool to help her prepare for meetings.

“LinkedIn is Cliff Notes and they can fill in the details,” she said. Looking at someone's work history and profile ahead of time allows you to get a deeper understanding of their connections and experience so you can spend more time discussing the important elements in a networking meeting.

People often shy away from networking because it can feel transactional and inauthentic. A key theme stressed by each panelist was the importance of bringing your authentic self to each interaction and creating meaningful relationships.

“Traditionally, networking is how you get a job and meaningful relationships are those people in your world that you want to spend time with,” Natalie said. “Realistically, it’s the same thing. You want to make those meaningful connections even when you don’t need a job today.”

Natalie stressed that approaching networking from the mindset of making deeper connections rather than viewing the interaction as a transaction or a tool will go a long way. Fostering deeper relationships with the people in your network will not only make the networking process more enjoyable, but will reap greater professional rewards in the future.

A key element in developing those deeper relationships is authenticity. Rosie commented on the changing nature of hiring and embracing your journey in an authentic way.

“In this moment, as we are thinking about workforce innovation, we’re thinking about flexible work, and so many companies are trying to think differently about how we’re engaging talent, we have to be a little more vulnerable and transparent and what the journey has been for us,” she said.

Rosie suggested being open about gaps in your resume and career journeys can help create that authentic relationship and move beyond a superficial interaction.

Perhaps the most lively topic of the night was on diversifying networks. Jen remarked that when trying to find a Black mentor for a connection, she was hit with the realization that her network was overwhelmingly white like her.

 

Often, our networks lack diversity because we are most comfortable with people who look and think like us. However, building an equitable technology ecosystem requires technologists to have a diverse connections. Getting started with diversifying your network can be daunting, but several panelists offered suggestions.

To expand her network, Jen regularly attends meetings of the Black Employee Resource Group at Microsoft to make connections with Black coworkers, and to listen and learn. Natalie suggested making a concerted effort to approach those who look different than yourself and to have that conversation, even if it may be uncomfortable. Jade suggested that networkers explore the elements that make up their identity and network based on those, whether that is hobbies such as professional sports, board games, or knitting. People are more complex and have many more identifies than just their race, gender, or sexuality, and making connections with others based on interests, hobbies, and activities can help you tap easily into a more diverse network.

After more than two years of virtual work and meetings, including virtual WLiT sessions, MnTech is grateful to help host a valuable session on networking to help female technologists succeed and grow in the Twin Cities technology industry.

You can view a recording of the panel discussion on MnTech's Youtube Channel here:

MnTech is grateful for the participation of our panelists, moderator, and the WLiT sponsors. Registration is open for the next event, the annual Summer Happy Hour, taking place on August 11 at Pinstripes in Edina, MN. Learn more and register here.


Amplifying Pathways to Tech Careers Through MnTech Connect

Minnesota’s technology talent problem is well documented. News headlines, reports, and press releases have highlighted the fact that the demand for technology workers in fields such as software development is far outstripping the current supply.

In fact, Minnesota averages more than 7,000 job postings per month for Software Developers and Software QA and Testers while less than 1,000 people are hired per month on average for these roles.1

What’s more, these positions are primarily filled with white technologists. Just 2% of web developers and digital interface designers in Minnesota are Hispanic or Latino, 2% are Black or African American, and 8% are Asian.2

This mismatch in talent hinders organizations who need these workers and their technical skills to grow, innovate, and succeed. It also poses as a barrier to creating a more representative and inclusive tech ecosystem in Minnesota.

To help alleviate the issues of talent gaps and lack of racial and ethnic diversity, the Tech Inclusion Alliance (TIA), a program of MnTech, has launched MnTech Connect. This new site is an online resource to identify and amplify pathways to a technology career and allows individuals to search for learning opportunities, continuing education, and certification in the technology field.

Whether someone is in grade school or shifting careers, MnTech Connect can help link them with a program that will inspire a passion for technology and get them started toward a career in the technology field.

How It Works

MnTech Connect is a repository for educational programs from around Minnesota that educate, train, and inspire individuals for a career in a tech role. Organizations that run educational programs post their offerings to the site which get filtered based on age level: K-12, post-secondary, and skills training. Anyone looking for resources on programs can access the site, filter services based on their needs, and be pointed toward more information to get started.

Why MnTech Connect

MnTech Connect is a key resource in the toolbox of TIA as they work to reduce talent gaps, increase the number of BIPOC individuals in tech and STEM careers, and increase the number of students interested in technology careers. As more organizations begin accepting non-four-year degree credentials, resources such as MnTech Connect become increasingly important as a way for individuals to find inspiration, gain skills, and land roles as technologists. To learn more about TIA and how they are working to create a more inclusive tech ecosystem, visit the TIA website.

How to Help

If your organization runs educational programming or training, post it to the MnTech Connect board for others to find. If your organization is already represented, be sure to verify your program using our dashboard.

 


  1. Quarterly MnTech eImpact Report; Emsi
  2. Quarterly MnTech eImpact Report; Emsi

people sitting at a conference

Tech Connect 2022 Recap

MnTech Celebrates a Successful Tech Connect 2022

Minnesota’s technology leaders were finally able to gather in person after nearly three years at the 2022 Tech Connect conference in Saint Paul. Nearly 300 guests gathered to learn and connect over the technology industry’s most prevalent topics, challenges, and changes.

Take a look at our photo album to view a collection of shots from the event.


Continue Reading

Fjord Trends 2022: A New Fabric of Life

Read the full Fjord Trends 2022 report.

Read More

"Business as Unusual" by Jack Uldrich

Read Jack Uldrich's book, "Business as Unusual"

Read More

Session Recordings

Rewatch our recorded sessions or share them with a colleague by clicking on the links below to visit the MnTech Youtube channel.

Morning Welcome

St. Paul Mayor, Melvin Carter, welcomes the audience to Tech Connect 2022

Morning Keynote

Martha Cotton of Accenture Song explores the Fjord Trends 2022 report in the morning keynote address

Afternoon Keynote

Jack Uldrich discusses the themes explored in his book, "Business as Unusual"

Executive Panel

Leaders from Land O'Lakes, Thomson Reuters, Target, and UnitedHealthcare gather for a panel discussion

What did you think of Tech Connect?

Let us know with a four question survey.

Take Our Survey