Facebook’s March announcement that the internet giant will be bringing a data center to the Omaha area turned the local tech community’s attention from the startups and entrepreneurs to the large corporations that call the Silicon Prairie home. Aside from jobs and revenue, community members are always curious as to what else these additions bring to Omaha’s tech ecosystem.
Look no further than Yahoo’s Omaha office for the answer to that question. Since the opening of the office in 2009, the Yahoo team has provided many avenues for growth in the Omaha metro.
Those efforts were recognized last month when the office earned the Best Places to Work for the Advancement of Women award from Baird Holm LLP and the Institute for Career Advancement Needs (ICAN) and the Best Place to Work in Omaha in the large company category by the Omaha Chamber of Commerce.
The two awards speak for the work Yahoo has done to foster a supportive and creative company culture for women, as well as support the city of Omaha as a whole.
The Best Places to Work for the Advancement of Women award recognizes the Yahoo Omaha office as a local company that has effectively created a culture that attracts, retains and advances women in the workplace.
“This award really allows us to showcase how actively we foster leadership especially among women in our organization,” said Bre Phelan, Ad Creative Tech Project Management Lead at Yahoo Omaha. “In fact, women hold 50 percent of leadership roles at our office.”
Phelan explained that Yahoo earned the title through their various company groups, such as a mentorship program that enables everyone at the company to find someone who inspires them within the office and start to develop a working relationship to help advance their career path.
Yahoo also has organizations that support and empower women in the workplace, such as their Women in Tech Employee Resource Group. Omaha’s chapter is among one of the most active across the entire company.
“This kind of resource group really helps promote women succeeding at Yahoo by providing inspiration and support to our employees and to the next generation of women, not just within Yahoo, but in the tech industry itself,” said Phelan. “I think having organizations like that really help push women forward, and this award reaffirms that.”
The Best Place to Work in Omaha award was presented by The Omaha Chamber of Commerce and recognized Yahoo based on employee responses to surveys and participation in the Chamber’s program. Yahoo earned the top honor among other large companies (200 employees or more) in the area.
In addition to growing their Omaha office and maintaining an environment that employees love, Yahoo is using their unique company culture to bring changes to Omaha and the Silicon Prairie.
“We’re growing quickly, we’ve made a lot of investments in this office, said Phelan. “It’s providing over 330 jobs for people, not just in tech, but in other career paths for Omaha.”
Yahoo works with area high schools and colleges to spark interest in tech career paths and keep bright minds in the Midwest’s tech ecosystem.
The company engages with high school students in youth-focused programs like Careerockit to spark early interest in tech career paths. They also participate in job shadowing, office tours and speaking engagements to school districts to help foster the region’s next generation of tech talent.
Yahoo Omaha wants to make sure students know that career paths are available in Omaha and they don’t have to move to the west coast to pursue an exciting tech career.
“One of the great things about Yahoo is that even though you work in Omaha, we’re a global company and it’s easy to talk to anyone across the world,” said Phelan. “Having students come in and show them what’s available is a really great opportunity to empower them and get them on the tech path as early as possible.”
In addition to working with high schools, Yahoo hosts an internship program that provided work experience to 22 participants from area colleges last summer. The program reaches talented students across the region and brings them to Omaha to get their foot in the door.
“Attracting young talent takes a fun and creative workspace and a mentality to always find ways to do things better, faster, stronger and Yahoo does that,” said Phelan. “It’s a great way to promote Yahoo and really work with the colleges at large.”
Yahoo Omaha also recently invited UNO and UNL to participate in the first-annual Yahoo Advertising Knock-out Challenge. The challenge matched university programs with Yahoo marketing needs for talent development and gave students a taste of a real-world working experience.
With the wide range of rich and supportive programs taking place within Yahoo, it’s clear why employees and outside organizations would recognize the company as one of the best places to work.
“I have never worked at a company that has such an amazing culture. Everyone I work with is talented, they’re driven and hard-working,” said Phelan. “We work hard, we play hard, but it’s a supportive environment and some of the best tech minds in Omaha work here.”
Christine McGuigan is the Associate Editor of Silicon Prairie News.