WIN in Workforce Summit 2020 - Speakers

by Sioux Falls Development Foundation
Published 11/03/2020

Data helps guide next-generation talent management.

Nedra Larson is a frequent face at area career events.

A recruiter for software engineering company Omnitech, she helps guide students to their first experiences with their company. And data helps guide her to which prospects could be the best fit.

“We are very mindful of what the process of recruitment from a college student to an engineer looks like,” said Larson, who has worked at Omnitech since 2005.

“That starts with how we first plug into students, what’s on their resumes, where they’re going to school, and we are very intentional with how we use that data.”

Larson was part of a panel discussion, The Democratization of Data, as part of the WIN in Workforce Summit on October 27 from 12 to 5 p.m. at the Sioux Falls Convention Center, organized by the Sioux Falls Development Foundation.

She will be joined by moderator Steve Kolbeck of Xcel Energy and panelists Cody Siewert of Avera Health and J.R. Rowenhorst of Sammons Financial Group.

These area experts will share how the deployment and usage of data in their decision-making has created tremendous efficiencies for human resources in talent management.

Larson, a Mitchell, S.D. native and Southeast Tech graphic design graduate, came to Omnitech from the Argus Leader, where she started in production and moved into sales.

“A friend referred me to Omnitech, and I thought, ‘Can I sell custom software?’ Little did I know that’s what I was using at the Argus Leader, so it really clicked,” she said. “I was an end user and was going to reach out to talk to people about buying custom software and technology.”

Her career progressed into recruitment for the company, which has more than 50 employees.

“Omnitech as a whole has a really awesome culture,” she said. “Everyone lends a hand, you don’t feel like you’re in a silo. You feel like you are part of a team.”

For Larson, using data starts at the earliest stages of an employee’s life cycle: The internship. Omnitech tracks majors, GPAs and future goals for its prospective interns.

“We like to have an intern go through two years of internship at Omnitech, so when they come in as a software engineer in the work world they’re accustomed to the culture and engrained in different teams,” she said.

The company uses Handshake, a digital network that connects students, schools and employers, to find prospective talent.

“While we definitely have data points down for who we are looking for in a future employee, we make it a friendly hiring process,” Larson added.

“We don’t get super technical. If a student has really good grades in computer science, we don’t need to dig deep into that. We have to look at are they a team player, are they willing to share knowledge and do they want to continue to grow. Staff here are not complacent. They continue to grow and learn.”

Larson’s role also involves being part of a six-person “pro grow” team that helps support employees’ growth throughout their careers.

“We’re a Microsoft Gold partner, so when a young engineer comes on as a full-time employee, we have them do micro-certifications and we pair them with a mentor for the first two years,” she said. “So, we really rally behind the staff to grow them as young professionals, not only with their certifications but from soft skills to working with clients.”

“I attended the summit last year and captured new things I wanted to incorporate into our summer internship experience, plus it validated for me that as young as our program is, we’re doing a lot of the right things,” Larson said.

“So, I was prideful, and I was able to take back new things to incorporate into our program.”