Tag Archives: Women in Business

Barbara Christianson

November 22, 2017 by
Photography by Jeremy Allen Wieczorek

Barbara Christianson already had industrial sales experience when she joined Ingersoll Rand Compression Technologies and Services in 2000 as a sales coordinator, but her clients—spanning sectors from retail to medical to manufacturing—were nevertheless often surprised at that first meeting or phone call.

“People would say to me, ‘How did a girl like you get to selling air compressors?’” she says.

Her outstanding product knowledge and exceptional communication and interpersonal skills not only made her a successful salesperson, but led to advancement. Christianson now serves as the business manager for the busy Omaha office, which provides sales and service covering Nebraska, Iowa, and the Dakotas. And Christianson’s title isn’t the only thing that changed in her workplace over the years.

“Back in the days after I was hired, there were only two of us women: the business manager and me. Everybody else was male,” she says. “But now we have more women than men.”

Everyone is treated with respect, Christianson says. “The seven women that are here in the office, we get along well,” she says. “It’s a small office, so we have to.”

Christianson says she’s proud to work for a company that offers both men and women opportunities for career development.

“What I’ve noticed since I’ve been here is that it isn’t a man’s world,” she says. “There are women in (executive) and management positions, and it’s based off experience and fit, not because a person is male or female,” she says. “It’s the personality, and the experience, and the ability to work with your team.”

13205 Centennial Rd.
Omaha, NE 68138

This sponsored content appeared in the Winter 2018 issue of B2B.

Kelly Burns

Photography by Jeremy Allen Wieczorek

Since she founded Payroll Professionals, Inc. in 2004, President/Owner Kelly Burns has offered a full spectrum of services: accounting, bookkeeping, and payroll. She also offers QuickBooks consulting, setup, and training.

“We handle full accounting [services], and we can even set up new businesses from the ground up,” she says. Burns—a certified public accountant with a bachelor’s degree from College of Saint Mary—and her all-female staff have decades of collective experience that makes them well- equipped to tailor services for a diverse group of local and regional clients.

Burns has a special understanding of the needs of small business owners, who use her company’s services so they can focus on their day-to-day operations. She also works with corporations and larger businesses. Her loyal clients, big and small, praise Payroll Professionals’ reliability, accuracy, and quality.

“I think what distinguishes us is that we give the client personal attention,” she says. “We’re a smaller office, so when clients call, email, or drop by they’re always dealing with one of the three of us versus always reaching a different person.”

2829 S. 88th Street

Omaha, NE 68124


This sponsored content appeared in the Winter 2018 issue of B2B.

Carmen Tapio

Photography by Jeremy Allen Wieczorek

When former call center executive Carmen Tapio founded North End Teleservices in partnership with the Omaha Economic Development Corp., the site location was part of the strategy for success in a competitive, longstanding, and internationally known market. It also fit the company’s mission to create jobs and change lives.

“While there are many great call centers around the city, we were very intentional about placing North End Teleservices right here because this area has one of the highest unemployment rates in the city of Omaha,” she says. “It’s allowing people to work where they live.”

Less than two years after its September 2015 opening, the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce named North End Teleservices the 2017 Small Business of the Year.

“We fill a high-touch, high-service niche in the contact center industry. We do exceptional work for our clients. That seems simplistic, but we talk about ‘earning the business every single day.’”

Tapio says she is proud of the loyalty and commitment of her team—many of them women—from which she expects to cultivate the next generation of industry leaders.

“It really is a family. We care about how we’re doing as a business, but we care about each other personally as well,” she says. Her employees not only gain marketable job skills, they learn about financial literacy and can access health care, tuition assistance, and other benefits.

“We talk to them about their lives, their hopes, their dreams, their careers. It’s not just about a job. It’s really about helping them create a vision for themselves,” she says.

1500 N. 24th St., Suite 111

Omaha, NE 68110

This sponsored content appeared in the Winter 2018 issue of B2B.

Kathy David

Photography by Jeremy Allen Wieczorek

Since Kathy David opened the business with her husband, Michael, in 2016, Regency Parkway Art has gained rapid recognition in a field that’s highly competitive. “We realized early on that we couldn’t just wait for people to walk through the door,” she says.

Regency Parkway Art offers advisory services for, procurement of, and commissioning of original art; special packaging and shipping; and even installation for commercial clients and private collectors. The Davids have cultivated partnerships with local restaurants and groups like the Omaha Symphony and South High School to promote not just their artists’ work, but to bring awareness to the arts in general.

“We’ve worked hard to develop a cadre of artists we represent, and feel that all of their work is of very high caliber—original works and reproductions of their original works. We also work with photographers and have really grown in our appreciation of photography as a category of fine art,” Kathy says. “The most rewarding part of the business has been getting to know the artists we work with.”

440 Regency Parkway, Suite 137
Omaha, NE 68114

This sponsored content appeared in the Winter 2018 issue of B2B.

Pam Alfrey Hernandez

Photography by Jeremy Allen Wieczorek

This sponsored content appeared in the Winter 2018 issue of B2B.

Pam Alfrey Hernandez first came up with “The Right Reflection” as she was finishing her Master of Applied Positive Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania in 2014; it originally served as the title of her capstone thesis.

“I was really fascinated with the idea that we cannot see ourselves directly. We can only see ourselves through reflection, whether it’s a mirror, the eyes of our children, our parents, our work. So what happens if that reflection is distorted?” she explains.

Hernandez now revisits that concept through her leadership training, coaching and executive seminars and conferences. In 2015, she founded The Right Reflection, a national, Omaha-based consulting firm that facilitates transformation for individuals, teams, and organizations by creating true change rather than simply re-engineering what already exists.

“I think the basis of all our issues is that we’re not seeing things clearly,” she says. “My tagline is ‘See Clearly—Act Boldly—Live Fully.’ So I try to help individuals and organizations see clearly, and that allows them to act boldly and live fully…I help both businesses and individuals improve their leadership.”

Hernandez certainly knows a thing or two about leadership. She created The Right Reflection after a remarkable and groundbreaking 30-year career at Woodmen Life, where she ultimately rose to the rank of chief operating officer and became the first female executive team member of the 125-year-old firm. She is a community leader who’s been active with Nebraska Humane Society, Women’s Center for Advancement, Tri-Faith Initiative, Omaha Network, Omaha Business Ethics Alliance, Girl Scouts Art Venture, and Go Red for Women, among others. Her education includes two master’s degrees, and Hernandez also has earned multiple certifications and accreditations that ensure she is well-versed in the latest leadership principles and promotes nothing but the best practices through The Right Reflection.

“I bring a whole lot of practical experience,” she says of her unique combination of skills, accomplishments, expertise, and knowledge. “Everything I do is research-based. I layer leadership development on adult stages of development that have been researched by psychologists for years.”

Hernandez’s exceptional abilities as a mentor, trainer, and coach also reflect on her first career.

“I was once a high school English teacher,” she explains. “I love teaching and I love developing curriculum.”

Leadership is more than being responsible for a team of associates, despite the traditional definitions, Hernandez says, and becoming a better leader cannot be accomplished by merely reading a book or declaring a workplace culture change. One of her favorite sayings is “Leadership is as much about who you are as what you do.” Hernandez says she’s not afraid to tell decision- makers that leadership development is no quick fix.

“The only place that makes sense for an organization to invest their dollars if they really want improvement is to invest in developing their leaders to higher levels of consciousness,” she says. “Leadership is not a coat of skills you put on, it’s a way of being. Leadership is creating outcomes that matter.”





Would You Do It If Your Life Depended On It?

I was doing some in-house training for a client recently where we were discussing the elements of success and how can we achieve greatness in sales. This is often a hard conversation if we are honest with ourselves. Success requires us to go above and beyond what has always been comfortable, familiar, and safe. Most salespeople want nothing to do with taking risks, experiencing failure, and learning from it. Instead, they go to work, do what they are comfortable doing, think very little outside the normal routine, and then go home only to repeat it the next day, week, and year. I believe every one of us was created for much more.

Often in sales, we limit ourselves. Intellectually, we know what must be done, what calls should be made, what networking events to attend, and which doors to knock on; but emotionally, these behaviors are not supported due to fear, the possibilities of rejection, and failure. The result is self-sabotage. Unfortunately, almost all of the revenue-generating behaviors in the sales role, like prospecting, asking for referrals, scheduling free talks, etc., are hindered by prevailing non-supportive attitudes regardless of how long one has been in sales. Success can be achieved if we flip this so that behavior happens independent of emotional fear or non-supportive attitudes.

To challenge my client, I asked them to identify an action or behavior that they knew intellectually would lead to new sales but, because of fear, had not been done. If I challenge my client to something like this, I have to do it, too. So, on a cold Saturday morning in December, I drove to a neighborhood where I believed business owners lived. For two hours, I went house to house knocking on doors looking for those that would listen to a 45-second commercial about Sandler Training. In two hours, I knocked on 45 doors, had 17 people listen to what I had to say, set one appointment, got one referral from a CEO of a large Omaha business, and had a lengthy conversation with a retired CEO of a $150 million manufacturing business who was willing to sit down with me to help with strategic planning.

It wasn’t without fear. In the days and moments leading up to this prospecting event, I felt ill at times and constantly thought to myself “this is stupid.” My emotions and attitude told me to stay at home and enjoy the weekend. Afterwards, however, I saw the benefit of my behavior and my attitude soared. Is there any doubt that I would win business if I kept up this behavior every weekend?

It is because of this experiment that I am certain every sales professional has the opportunity to achieve greatness.

Karl Schaphorst is a 27-year veteran of sales who now specializes in training other sales professionals. He is the president of Sandler Training.

This article appeared in the Winter 2018 issue of B2B.

Lady at the Lounge

Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Forget about Ladies Night. Cohen & Kelly’s Lounge promotes ladies’ day each Tuesday.

“There’s not a specific time,” says co-owner Cindy Vance, adding with a laugh: “Actually, the whole day is ladies’ day.”

That’s not the only perk at C & K’s. Drink prices are fair any day of the week, but C & K’s hosts happy hour on Tuesday and Wednesday, and they also host a men’s night on Mondays.

Vance began working at Cohen & Kelly’s Lounge when she was 20 years old. She assumed ownership (with husband Frank) 10 years later. The couple, who also own The Dubliner in the Old Market, have owned C & K’s for nearly three decades.

Cindy, specifically, has made a point to maintain a casual but appealing “neighborhood bar” environment for the cozy lounge that’s long been a mainstay in the retail plaza at the southeast quadrant of 132nd Street and West Center Road. at also means creating an atmosphere where female patrons feel as much at home as any of the men who frequent C & K’s.

“I try to make all women who come in here feel comfortable,” Vance says. “I try to make everyone in here feel comfortable.”

The lounge hosts many women customers, and the employee team is mostly women. Servers and bartenders are held to high standards of making customers feel welcome while serving them efficiently, so Vance is personally involved in hiring every member of C & K’s team.

Patrons from 30 years ago, or even from the lounge’s late ’70s beginnings, would readily recognize C & K’s today, Vance says. The biggest change came after the Nebraska Clean Indoor Air Act of 2008 required indoor workplaces in Nebraska to be smoke-free as of mid-2009. “There was a huge resistance at first. But now everything looks brighter, and it’s so much easier to keep clean,” she says.

A variety of seating options accommodate couples, small groups who want to focus on conversation, larger parties who want to make an occasion of it, and even solo patrons looking for some friendly company.

“I like how you can carry a conversation across the bar and see everybody,” Vance says.

While in many neighborhood bars regulars become the bartenders’ friends, Vance says regulars here become like family, even contributing to potlucks during popular televised sporting events. Those include all of the televised Nebraska football games, all Creighton basketball games, and the College World Series along with NASCAR, dirt racing, and hockey. And if someone gets tired of their own family during the holidays, they can join the C & K family—the lounge hosts regular special holiday celebrations; it is open every day of the year.

Keeping her employees happy is important, she says, and although the dominate-female team already gets along well, Vance encourages camaraderie through occasional fun outings that allow the team to bond outside the on-the-job pressures of their busy bar. Vance and her staff in turn provide unfailingly great service, she says, that encourages patrons to come back again and again.

“We like knowing our customers by name,” she says.

Because of these factors, Vance says she doesn’t feel at all out of place as a female in an industry that’s still heavily dominated by men. “It’s actually more uncommon for any bar to make it as long in one location as we have,” she says.

Visit cksloungeomaha.com for more information.

This article appeared in the Winter 2018 issue of B2B.

Women Mean Business

Omaha’s tourism industry has come a long way since the Windsor Hotel, a three-story brick building constructed in 1885 in the Old Market, welcomed railroad workers coming into the city’s train station. The Windsor was designed to be a “working man’s hotel,” and back then Omaha businesses, restaurants, and hotels were all led by men. Oh, how times have changed.

Today, women touch every aspect of the business world, including Omaha’s tourism industry. Major tourist attractions such as The Durham Museum, Omaha Children’s Museum, and El Museo Latino are all led by women. These women, along with their staffs, offer creative insight into the world of art and history. The organizations they lead offer relevant, imaginative, and often touchable exhibits that are enjoyed by some of the 12.3 million people who visit Omaha every year.

And it’s the direction and artistic vision of women who provide Omaha with some of the best onstage performances in the country. Women who lead the Omaha Community Playhouse, Blue Barn Theater, and Omaha Performing Arts inspire the cast and crew to create magical theatricals that transports guests to another time and place.

Today, unlike the Windsor Hotel built more than 130 years ago, there are four female general managers running some of the city’s largest hotel properties. Every day, their teams welcome guests to the city and are often the first impression visitors have of Omaha. Local businesses play a big part in the success of Omaha’s tourism industry, too; restaurants where visitors eat, and boutiques where they shop, are many times now owned by women.

Omaha’s attractions, performances, restaurants, and hotels attract visitors to our city—and keep them coming back. It has experienced seven straight years of tourism growth, thanks to all of the women who are helping to shape and lead the industry here in Omaha.

Keith Backsen is executive director of the Omaha Convention & Visitors Bureau.

This article appeared in the Winter 2018 issue of B2B.

The “F” Word

I’ll never forget the first time I signed into a hotel in Dhaka, Bangladesh. I couldn’t get a room unless I wrote down my father’s name, my weight, and my height.

I thought about protesting out of principle. Like when someone in the United States asks me for my social security number, I say, “Why do you need it? I’m not going to give it to you unless I have a good reason.”

But when I travel out-of-country, I’m less sure of my status and legal protections. So, I kept my mouth shut and wrote, “Klem.” (I provided my weight and height, too, but reporting these here aren’t relevant to this story. Really.) This whole situation railed against my worldview. Primarily because, while standing at the hotel counter in Bangladesh, I was led to believe that if I were a male I wouldn’t be asked for my father’s name and other personal information.

I believe that the global feminist movement is an objection to gendered double-standards. It is grounded in the principle that double-standards are unfair, and that all people should be free to develop their abilities to their fullest and equitably rewarded when they succeed.

However, my understanding of feminism is not universally accepted. In my recent unscientific, informal poll, more respondents would not call themselves feminists than those who would. This is consistent with a national poll done by research firm PerryUndem in the last couple of years, where only 15 percent identify as feminist.

I wonder, would the women who are honored in this edition of B2B Magazine call themselves feminist? Would you? If so, why? If not, why not?

I have found that for some people, the word has a radical connotation. A recent Doonesbury cartoon describes one understanding, from the mouth of a millennial female: “feminism is the belief that women are superior to men” because if it were just about gender equality then there wouldn’t be anything to disagree about, just as there isn’t anything to disagree about when it comes to understanding gravity. And a recent New York Times article describes another radical understanding, namely, “feminism conjures up a caricature of lesbians in motorcycle gear who are very, very angry and don’t like men.”

I guess, if we understand the word these ways, I wouldn’t call myself a feminist either. Though I do like motorcycle gear, I don’t think I’m superior to or dislike men. Maybe the best thing to do in this evolving, crazy, mixed-up world is to forget about the feminist label (I rip labels out of my clothes—why wouldn’t I do that here?). Let’s assume, as the millennials do, that the belief that women should have the same rights and opportunities as men is obvious. Let’s advance gender equity and reject gendered double-standards when we have the opportunity. Let’s not worry about whether we call ourselves the “F” word or not.

Beverly Kracher, Ph.D., is the executive director of the Business Ethics Alliance and the Daugherty Chair in Business Ethics and Society at Creighton University.

This article appeared in the Winter 2018 issue of B2B.

From the Editor

Photography by Bill Sitzmann

I recently told a colleague the story of how Carmen Clark, former administrative assistant at Make-A-Wish Foundation, told me several times that she was always surprised when she saw me, because she thought of me as a tall woman. (At 5’0”, I certainly am not tall.) Usually we conducted business via the phone, and apparently I emit a tall presence.

My last name is also frequently mispronounced. Admittedly, Hutzell-Rodman is a mouthful. Yet a surprising number of people think my last name is Rodham, as in Hillary Rodham Clinton. Politics aside, one cannot deny that she has been a career-minded woman.

Perhaps part of the reason why people mispronounce my name is because my normal attitude towards life is “I can,” as in “Yes, I can find sponsors for an annual car show.” “Yes, I can write another 800-word article and turn it in today.” While I cannot do everything, this attitude has helped many women in their careers.

That’s one common theme with the women in this issue. They can. Our second annual Women in Business edition highlights some incredible businesswomen. They can collaborate, code websites, manage banks, move boxes in high heels, run a bar, head a school, even own a mobile business.

I loved reading about the strengths of the incredible women in this magazine.

Along with being the Women in Business special edition, this magazine includes the Best of B2B ballot, which can be found on pages 55 and 56. Now is the business community’s chance to vote on everything from best commercial cleaning service to best place to eat a business lunch. We’ll reveal the results of the contest in April.

This article appeared in the Winter 2018 issue of B2B.