In September 2017, two of Silverline’s key leaders relocated from New York City to Omaha with the goal of establishing Silverline’s first permanent satellite office. This office would be primarily a development center, hiring junior developers and training them to become Salesforce consultants through our established Silverline Academy program.
I caught up with Eric Nelson, VP of Delivery Technology at Silverline, to see what made Omaha the perfect place for Silverline to initially expand.
Eric and Melisssa Nelson (married Silverliners!) lived in and worked out of New York for quite a long time. But as their family unit started to grow, the Nelsons wanted move somewhere where they had extended family around. “We liked Omaha because it’s a nice, clean, safe city. It’s a good place to raise a family; there are good schools.”
“And there are also a lot of big businesses here, a lot of financial services companies — big banks and insurance, a lot of good commerce in the area. And there are a lot of great computer science programs at the universities here, which allows us pretty direct access to a pipeline of great candidates,” said Nelson.
The Silverline Academy
The first Omaha developer academy was a complete success, bringing five developers onboard in January 2018 and training them full time for three months. All are now full-time employees of Silverline. Of that inaugural class, two were from University of Nebraska Omaha (UNO), one was from University of Nebraska Lincoln (UNL), and two relocated from outside of Nebraska.
Since that time, Silverline has focused on ramping up its recruiting effort and relationship with UNO, UNL, and Creighton. Nelson has presented to different classes and student groups at both universities and Silverline has sponsored all the Computer Science career fairs. This has helped build the Silverline brand on campus and created interest among the students.
This summer, the Silverline Academy has two new classes of students — one for Client Services, and one for Developers. The Client Services Academy will have four new full-time hires who will be trained for three months by Patrick Slattery, Client Services Solution Architect. The Developer Academy will be run by Greg Grinberg, Director of Technology Team Advancement.
Silverline’s Omaha Developer Academy will have six new hires: three from UNO, two from UNL, and one from Creighton. The universities have been incredibly helpful in directing us to students who are a good fit for the Silverline developer/consultant skill set.
“The Scott Technology Center has been a great partner in all of this. Silverline was really testing the Omaha waters when we first started here and they were able to help us find a space quickly without making a long-term commitment as we started to build our Omaha team. Since then, they have been flexible and accommodating as our team as grown and we have made plans to grow more,” Nelson said. “The location on campus has really given us a direct pipeline to the students at UNO and has made it easy to go to campus for presentations and career fairs or for students to come to the Silverline office to interview. We hope to continue working with the Scott Technology Center as we continue to grow our Omaha team in 2019, 2020, and beyond.”
What’s so great about Omaha?
“Well, Warren Buffet is a name people like to throw around. He lives here. We’ve got a huge zoo that’s pretty cool, if you’re into that sort of thing,” Nelson said. “There are a lot of good steakhouses around here. And the Old Market (Omaha’s art’s district) is a great place downtown with interesting stores, galleries, and unique restaurants. During the summer, the College World Series happens here — a really cool event that takes over a whole big part of the city.”
“We’re located in the area known as Aksarben, which is Nebraska spelled backwards, and it’s an up-and-coming area with a lot going on. For us in the Omaha office, it’s mostly quiet — we’ve got mostly developers here. Nothing too crazy, but we’re right by a park so we like to take breaks to go out and walk around, chat, hang out, have outdoor meetings.”
Outside of work, the Omaha team frequently has happy hours and has been known on occasion to enjoy a good barbecue at the Nelson family home. The Omaha team has participated in Silverline Cares events and even gone out hatchet-throwing for a group event. “We also have a team hackathon that we do every one or two months. People build a lot of cool stuff, win some Fond points. Make some chatbots, mobile applications, AI stuff. It’s good fun.”
Staying connected to other Silverliners
Since so many Silverliners are scattered across the U.S., it’s important to make sure we all feel connected. At the Omaha office, Slack is king and weekly/monthly team meetings via Zoom provide time to catch up. But it’s not all business talk. “My favorite Slack channel is probably the gamers channel. I don’t play that much anymore since I have little kids, but the chat keeps me up to date on all the stuff that’s going on — in case there is a new game I need to try, those guys distill everything down for me,” Nelson said.
When asked what three things he couldn’t do without in order to work most effectively, Nelson was quick to respond: “A good headset is key for taking calls, which is the most important part of my job. Shoes for all the walking I do around the office. Gum. Trident chewing gum — tropical twist is my main flavor, but I do them all. It’s good to stimulate your brain, your frontal cortex.
90% of the day, I’m pacing around, chewing gum and talking on the phone. Those are the things I need to stay connected and engaged.”
Nelson is one of Silverline’s original employees, and with that comes a lot of Silverline love. “What I love most about my role is all the different people that I get to work with that do all the amazing project work. And I’m just very honored to lead a team of great, smart people who do such hard work.”