About This Virtual Forum

Thursday, March 4, 2021
8 a.m. – 12 noon

Now in its third year, TechTalent convenes employers, educators, solutions providers and policy influencers working together to solve tech workforce challenges and opportunities.

Who attends?

Attendees include business, technology, and human resource leaders, as well as educators, solution providers, and policy influencers.

Why attend?

  • Get informed on the current state of tech talent in Minnesota.
  • Gain new ideas. This is the place to build allies!
  • Be part of the solution! You’ll take away actionable items to deploy in your workplace.


Who will be speaking?

Here are a few of the speakers you will hear from during the opening session:

Sameer Badlani
Chief Digital Officer, Executive VP for Technology Services
M Health Fairview

Tawanna Black
Founder & CEO
Center for Economic Inclusion

Greg Cunningham
Sr. EVP & Chief Diversity Officer
U.S. Bank

Jennifer Hauschildt
VP, Human Resources

Sean Lennon
Chief Information Officer

Andrea Markstrom
Chief Information Officer
Taft Law

Mike McNamara
Executive VP, Chief Information Officer


Fireside Chat

Beth Ford
CEO, Land O’Lakes

Discussion facilitated by Jeff Tollefson, President & CEO, Minnesota Technology Association

Closing Session: Not All Super Heroes Wear Capes

Large Venue Tech Leaders Discuss New “Game Day” Realities


John Avenson
Vice President, Technology
Minnesota Twins Baseball Club


Douglas Hegley
Chief Digital Officer
Minneapolis Institute of Art


Jim Ibister
Vice President, Facility Administration
Minnesota Wild


David Kingsbury
Director of IT
U.S. Bank Stadium


Eduardo Valencia
Metropolitan Airports Commission

Educational Session presenters include:

Best Buy
C.H. Robinson
Fairview Health Systems
Self-Esteem Brands
SPS Commerce
Starkey Hearing Technologies
TCF Bank
Thompson Reuters

Forum Agenda

What will the morning look like?

8-8:30 a.m. 

Minnesota – The State of Tech Talent

A look at the current state of Minnesota’s tech workforce, widening gaps in our tech talent pipelines, and the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.  Join us for this data-driven session that level-sets where Minnesota stands today and what needs to be addressed for the future.  


  • Jeff Tollefson, President & CEO, Minnesota Technology Association 
  • Jade Denson, VP, Programming & Member Experience, Minnesota Technology Association 


  • Erin OlsonDirector, Strategic Research, RealTime Talent 
  • Introduction by Shane Bratvold, Director, Business Information Security Officer, Thomson Reuters

8:30-9 a.m. 

Equity & Inclusion – Putting Words into Action  

Tawanna Black facilitates a conversation with leaders from Target and U.S. Bank on the importance of building diverse teams and inclusive workplaces.  Learn about new initiatives intended to open more doors of opportunity for historically marginalized talent pools and strategies for developing talent once on-board.  


  • Greg Cunningham, Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer, U.S. Bank 
  • Mike McNamara, Executive Vice President and Chief Information Officer, Target 

Facilitated by Tawanna Black, Founder & CEO, Center for Economic Inclusion 

9-9:50 a.m. 

The Future of Work – CIO Perspectives and Priorities  

How has COVID impacted current and future workforce strategies?  What does this mean as it relates to hiring, onboarding, developing, and retaining talent?  Learn how these leaders are optimizing talent in more challenging times. 


  • Sameer Badlani, MD, FACP, Chief Digital Officer & Executive VicePresident for Technology Services, M Health Fairview  
  • Sean Lennon, Chief Information Officer, Medtronic 
  • Andrea Markstrom, Chief Information Officer, Taft Law 

Facilitated by Jennifer HauschildtVice President, Human Resources, Uponor 

9:50-10 a.m. 


Remainder of morning 

Attend a series of 30-minute breakout sessions.  Choose from three tracks in each time period: 
  • INSPIRE – Learn why it is important to inspire more Minnesota youth to pursue STEM careers, the challenges faced by those addressing this issue, and how our business community can help. 
  • HIRE – Hear new approaches to sourcing, hiring, and on-boarding talent at a time of remote work and changing organizational priorities. 
  • DEVELOP & RETAIN – Explore how leading companies are developing and optimizing their talent and creating inclusive cultures where people want to work and choose to stay. 

10:00-10:30 a.m. 

Choose 1 of 3: 
INSPIRE Reality Check: The State of Computer Science Education in Minnesota

Is it true that Minnesota ranks last in the nation in the percentage of high schools offering computer science curriculum? Learn more about the challenges we facas we work to develoour next generation of developers. 


  • Sarah Carter, STEM/Computer Science Integration Specialist, Minnesota Department of Education 
  • Cassie Scharber, Ph.D., Associate Professor,  University of Minnesota; Steering Committee Member,  CSforAll-MN 
  • Andrea Wilson Vazquez, Director of Educator Training, Code Savvy; Innovative Instructional Coach, Intermediate District 287
HIRELeveraging Non-traditional Hires to Drive ROI 

Technology and Talent leaders with Granicus will share their learnings regarding effectively hiring and leveraging non-traditional talent. Specifically, they’ll talk about the why and how they positioned hiring bootcamp graduates as a strategic priority. They’ll also reveal why bootcamp grads most recently represent the largest portion of their technology workforce. Attendees will walk away with a better understanding of how to get strong return on investment from non-traditional talent and get some tools to advocate for tapping into bootcamp talent within your respective organizations. 


  • Tracie Karsjens, Director of Engineering, Granicus 
  • Nick Stroozas, Recruiter, Granicus 
DEVELOP & RETAINPerspectives on What Matters and What Works to Create an Inclusive Culture

Listen in as local tech professionals at varying levels share their perspectives on the impact culture can have in the work place. From setting the tone at the top to feeling engaged when you’re entering a new team, our speakers will share what’s worked, what hasn’t, and offer insights in to how you can enable a more inclusive space.


  • Ruchir Jaipuriyar, Sr. Manager, Applications, Digital Advisor Services, RBC Wealth Management 
  • Michelle Pokrzywinski, Director, Engineering and DevOps,  Kognitiv
  • Kaisa Taipale, PhD, Senior Data Scientist, C.H. Robinson 

Facilitated by Caroline Karanja, CEO, Hack the Gap 

10:35-11:05 a.m. 

Choose 1 of 3: 
INSPIRECareer PathwaysPromising Practices & Business Partnerships  

Learn about in-school and out-of-school programs equipping students with the digital and professional skills required to succeed on a pathway to tech career success and the important role our business community can (and must) play in this critical work. 


  • Sareen Dunleavy Keenan, Senior Program Officer, Greater Twin Cities United Way 
  • Alexandra Holter, Ph.D., STEAM Magnet Coordinator, Brooklyn Center Community Schools 
  • Andrea Wilson Vazquez, Director of Educator Training, Code Savvy; Innovative Instructional Coach, Intermediate District 287
  • Dr. Michael G. Wulf, Founder & Executive Director, Minnesota STEM Partnership 

Facilitated by Allison Barmann, Executive Director, Genesys Works 

HIRE Interviewing: Hiring for the Engineering Mindset 

Explore how to create new talent pathways into technology.  Increase access to tech by choosing to hire and invest in talent that may have found engineering in a less traditional way but has the mindset of curiosity and problem solving and the determination to make it a career.   


  • Megan Grimm, Director Talent Acquisition, Target 
  • Alicia Henderson, Director of Technology, Target 
DEVELOP & RETAINDeveloping Tech Talent from Within: Best Buy’s Field Infiltrator Program 

The Field Infiltrator program was created to provide opportunities for field employees, to leverage employee skills, to build a stronger connection between field and corporate team members, and to find creative ways to build an internal tech talent pipeline. 


  • Rosie Nestingen, Tech Transformation Director, Best Buy 
  • Josh Wadsworth, Associate Manager Tech Transformation, Best Buy

11:10-11:45 a.m. 

Choose 1 of 3 – Minnesota Technology Association to deliver closing remarks during final 5 minutes of each breakout below. 
INSPIREVoices of Youth: The Power of Opportunity 

Hear from Minnesota youth about what is sparking and sustaining their interest in technology and the role you and your employers play in helping build a more diverse tech workforce. 


  • Stuti Arora, Computer Science Student, University of Minnesota 
  • Claire Holmes, Senior, Mayo High School, Rochester
  • Susan Sama, Software Engineer – EEP, Target 

Facilitated by John Bartucz, Teacher,  Rochester CTECH; Professor, Rochester Community and Technical College and Winona State U; Founder, Rochester Area Youth Tech Foundation; President, CS Teachers Association of Minnesota; 2020 Aspirations in Computing Teacher of the Year 

HIRE – Onboarding Non-traditional Talent

Increased demands for software engineers and building a more diverse tech workforce has revealed the importance of sourcing talent from non-traditional backgrounds like bootcamps. But once you’ve hired bootcamp graduates, how do you effectively train and onboard those candidates to ensure they feel confident in their first technical role and connected to their teams despite not coming from a traditional CS background? Our panel of junior developers (and the leaders responsible for their onboarding) will share the tactics and best practices that facilitated a smooth and effective onboarding process when they started their first role as an engineer. 


  • Shanice Gipson, Technical Associate, VMLY&R 
  • Gabby Spurling, Director of Technology, VMLY&R 
  • Thomas Juranek, Software Engineer II, Nextek Development 
  • Rob Reynolds, Director of Software Engineering, Nextek Development 

Facilitated by Erica Prairie, Director – Early Tech Career Development Programming, Optum 

DEVELOP & RETAIN  Growth and Development at Thomson Reuters 

As digital transformation continues to accelerate and careers in the 21st century evolve, understanding that everyone is unique when it comes to career development, is key. Come and hear how Thomson Reuters empowers employees to grow and develop during these times of significant change.


  • Jenna Sprattler, Sr. Network Manager, Thomson Reuters
  • Danny Stubbings, Vice President Engineering and Operations, Thomson Reuters 

Facilitated by Laura Miller, Talent & Development Manager, Thomson Reuters and Lucy Rangecroft, HR Business Partner for Technology, Thomson Reuters

11:45 a.m. 

Forum concludes

Conference Agenda

Details coming soon!

8:30 Conference begins
Welcome and keynote
9:00 First Educational Session and Community Discussion Series
9:25 Break
Second Educational Session and Community Discussion Series, Sponsor Expo
10:00 Fireside Chat
10:25 Third Educational Session and Community Discussion Series
10:50 Break
Fourth Educational Session and Community Discussion Series, Sponsor Expo
11:25 Panel
Welcome Welcome by Jeff Tollefson, President & CEO of the Minnesota Technology Association and Jade Denson, Director of Community Engagement
Keynote Keynote by Marty Resnick, Sr. Director Analyst, Gartner: “5 Trends Drive the Gartner Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies 2020”
Educational Sessions Hear from a variety of Minnesota companies using technology to solve problems for customers and grow their business.
9 a.m.
  • Ecolab:  Virtual Support: a Real Solution in a Locked-Down World
  • Optum: The Cutting Edge of Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare
  • Slack: Modern Secure Collaboration with Slack
  • Target: Target Circle – Behind the scenes of one the nation’s largest loyalty programs and it’s positive impact on our local communities
  • AT&T: 5G- An overview of the basic principles of deploying a 5G network. Basic use cases will also be discussed.
  • SportsDigita: The NEW sales tech stack: Helping a remote workforce navigate with Digideck
  • Entrust Datacard: Driving digital transformation: Subscription revenue model for a global portfolio
9:30 a.m.
  • AerisWeather:  How Weather Data Coupled with Machine Learning Optimizes Business Outcomes
  • Self Esteem Brands: Mobilizing a product team into action in Covid times
  • SportsEngine: From Background Screens to Safety Programs: How SportsEngine Defined Eligibility and Changed the Market
  • Starkey Hearing Technologies: Disruptive Innovation and the Hearing Aid Industry
  • Structural: Building a Future of Work that is Better than Ever
  • Xcel Energy: Customer, data, technology: Nucleus of the future clean energy economy
10:25 a.m.
  • CHS:  Using “Lean” methodology to align to business needs
  • Medtronic: Driving change in the healthcare lifecycle through technology solutions
  • RSM: Covid as a Catalyst of Health Care Disruption
  • SPS Commerce: Stories and strategies for building and adopting Kubernetes-based engineering platforms
  • TCF: The intersection of Great Culture and Technological Innovation
  • Thomson Reuters: Artificial Intelligence and its Impact on Legal Technology: The Next Frontier is Already Here
  • Unisys: Modernizing Legacy Applications
10:55 a.m.
  • Allianz Life: A journey to increasing business value with test automation
  • C.H. Robinson: How C.H. Robinson and Microsoft are Partnering to Build the Supply Chain of the Future
  • Fairview Health Services: Rising to the challenge of Covid-19
  • Jamf:  Work, Learn, and Care from Anywhere: How Jamf is Driving Digital Transformation
  • Livefront: Using performance design to make digital products appear faster than they actually are
  • Microsoft: The Evolution and Realization of the Intelligent Edge
  • Securian: Evolution of the technology innovation lab at Securian Financial
Community Discussions Connect with your community during small group discussions on a variety of issues important to you. Interact with the conversation leader and one another via a built-in Zoom feature
9 a.m.
  • Prime Digital Academy: How can non-traditional talent sources help diversify your tech team?
  • MN-DOT and VSI Labs: Connected and Automated Vehicles: Heaven or Hell?
  • 26 Letters: How Do We Center People When Building Technology?
  • MentorMate: Why Design is a Strategic Advantage in Product Development
9:30 a.m.
  • AI Practitioners in Manufacturing:  Seagate, Boston Scientific, Entrust Datacard will share results of their benchmarking to date and ways to get involved
  • Baker Tilly:  What’s your data done for you lately?
  • LucidLift:  Has Agile failed?
10:25 a.m.
  • Lab651:  The Internet of Things: Should I Be Happy, Sad, or Scared?
  • NCXT: Can Technology Save Dining?
  • Optum & Target: What’s your role in fostering an effective and high-performance remote product engineering culture?
  • Crossfuze: IT Support CX in the new normal
10:55 a.m.
  • Lighthouse Software:  Low Code vs. Pro Code: Which One is Best?
  • AI AppStore: How will AI Change the Future of Tech and Tech Careers
  • University of St. Thomas: Preparing Business Leaders for a Digital World
Sponsor Expos Meet Tech Connect’s amazing sponsors, who helped make the conference possible, and enter a chance to win prizes
Fireside Chat Join Jeff Tollefson for a conversation with Beth Ford, CEO of Land O’Lakes
Closing Panel “Not All Super Heroes Wear Capes.” Hear from large venue tech leaders as they discuss new “Game Day” realities.
See Full Tech Connect Agenda

Fees & Registration

TechTalent Conference Fees

  • MnTech members: Free
    Not sure if your company is a member? Check our member listing
  • Non-members: $50 per person

For questions on tickets, please contact patty@mntech.org

Thanks to Our Sponsors!

Sponsorship opportunities for 2021 are available. Please contact Patty Carruth for more information at patty@mntech.org or 952.230.4554.