Talent Explorers: HUMANeX Ventures breaks through capability boundaries

Talent Explorers: HUMANeX Ventures breaks through capability boundaries

By Tyler Dahlgren

NCSA Communications Specialist

Over 230 students from more than 20 schools formed a massive rectangle, lining the four interior walls of the Nebraska Innovation Campus convention center in order from shortest to tallest.

Waverly High School junior Tanner Wubbels, a 6-5 standout basketball player for the Vikings, stood near the southeast corner, a full head above most of the room, which had paired off with relative strangers to swap personal information and share unique facts about themselves.

“I learned that being me is more important than trying to be someone else,” Wubbels said. “And that everyone has scars, physical or emotional scars, and to not judge someone before you understand what they’ve been through.”

Wubbels’ takeaway from the HUMANeX Ventures Young Leaders Summit was right in line with many of his fellow students, who began the day by listening to a power speech from nationally-renowned poetry duo Kinetic Affect, who relayed a message of hope.

“They really blew my mind with their personal stories, along with their many pieces of poetry,” Wubbels said.

Brianna Gable, a sophomore at Waverly, also made the short trek to Lincoln for YLS. She was especially moved by Kinetic Affect, calling the duo “absolutely fabulous”.

“I love slam poetry and the poems they performed were very powerful and exciting to watch,” Gable said. “I was reminded again and again how many people go through similar things and how we all should support one another.”

If there were any students dragging or running low on sleep, Kinetic Affect’s high-octane tempo served as a slingshot into the rest of the day, which included break-out sessions and another keynote speaker in Millard South graduate and University of Nebraska at Omaha basketball player Kyle Erickson. Erickson became a passionate advocate for mental health awareness after witnessing a tragic shooting in his high school that led to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

“Turning Tragedy into Testimony” is Erickson’s goal, and his message resonated with some of Nebraska’s brightest high school students at YLS.

“I’ve listened to Kyler speak many times and his story is truly heartbreaking,” Gable said. “He reminded me that I want to be remembered as a compassionate person because that matters more than any other title.”

Wubbels has heard Erickson speak before, too, but that didn’t stop the goosebumps.

“He is very inspiring,” Wubbels said. “He’s someone that has been through a lot and I find it amazing that he has not only overcome his problems, but went on further to help others overcome theirs.”




The HUMANeX Ventures team stayed busy throughout the course of the day, mingling with students and doing whatever necessary to ensure a smooth summit.

Sometimes, it can be difficult to not admire the students in attendance.

“I had the opportunity to walk around and talk to a lot of students, and they are sharp,” said HUMANeX Ventures Community and Client Partner Development Analyst Nick Hovermale. “They were so dialed in. It was cool to see them so aware of who they really were. It was a huge day for them, just to be able to put some of those pieces together.”

Hovermale and his coworkers see the talent in every student. As he points out, the students aren’t there by chance, but rather by choice.

“Their administrators see a lot in them,” he added.

At YLS, students have their eyes opened to inner talents, and are given the tools to use those talents to benefit others. It’s a rewarding process for the employees of HUMANeX Ventures.

“As they are thinking about next steps in life, whether it is college or work, it is important they know they can do whatever they want to or believe they can,” said Katie Diediker, an Analyst, Training and Product Development Specialist. “This is who you are, and this is how you can make an impact. You are so talented beyond what you ever thought. That’s the message we want to relay.”

Some students, Diediker said, have never had that affirmation. Affirmation leads to confidence. Confidence opens the door to an amazing amount of possibilities. It’s a cycle of positive momentum, and it can start with even the slightest bit of encouragement.

For students like Gable, YLS is a legitimate opportunity to better understand not only peers, but yourself, too.

“At the end of the day, I had learned how to better my skills, and how to use strategies in my life when I needed to be reminded of my strength,” Gable said. “It does break you out of a zone, and allows you to grow. You will get out what you invest in it, and active participation gave me new perspectives and the opportunity to meet new people.”




In addition to building skills and uncovering talents, YLS has the potential to build bridges of communication between schools big and small, from urban areas and more desolate parts of the state.

“We believe so strongly in communities, and relationships, that the more we connect people from a Dillard-Odell or from an Atkinson, for example, with people from Lincoln or Omaha, the better,” said Client Service and Process Specialist Kate Faughn, who worked more “behind the scenes” and in the process of planning YLS.

“For so long it was an Omaha and Lincoln event, and that was good and there was a lot of good that came from that, but this was the first year we had a really wide representation from across the state,” Hovermale said. “And it’s only going to get better in terms of finding communities that have these leaders, and need these leaders, to get them these experiences.”

HUMANeX Ventures aren’t just in the business of hosting schools for summits. They’re out on the road and in schools throughout the state of Nebraska, always just a phone call away.

“Reach out,” Hovermale advised schools that might be interested in all the company has to offer. “We try blanketing the state with information. I would encourage them (interested schools) to talk with people who have worked with us and hear what their experience was. Your best advocates are going to be people that have seen it. If we talk about it, that’s one thing. If you have a student or an administrator that walks away feeling they truly got something out of the day, then that is much more powerful.”

It doesn’t matter if your school is located in one of the State’s big cities, the panhandle or out in the cavernous west, the HUMANeX Ventures team wants to make your acquaintance. The journey is part of their fun. And their destination is often full of pleasant surprises.

“We want to come see you, no matter if you’re in Grand Island or Scottsbluff, or wherever,” Diediker said. “We want to meet you in person and see how we can help you. Visiting these communities is an awesome part of our job.”

Seeing the power of public education, especially in the smaller towns, has been an eye-opening experience for Hovermale.

“The number of small towns we’ve been able to go to, where we meet people and see what’s going on, that has blown me away, personally,” Hovermale said. “If you’ll have us, we will come.”

The Nebraska Innovation Campus (NIC) serves as perfect headquarters for the event. The 2017 YLS was the second at NIC, and plans are already in the works for the summit to return next year.

“They are very accommodating to us, and they’re just really great,” Faughn said. “Obviously, the space is wonderful, with a nice big auditorium and a bunch of break out rooms we can utilize for the smaller group stuff.”

HUMANeX Ventures holds one youth summit in Lincoln and one in Kalamazoo, MI, in addition to summits centered on adults. Preparation never stops.

“Once one is over, we start thinking about the next year’s,” Faughn said.




HUMANeX Ventures provides assistance in a handful of areas, including athletics, healthcare, manufacturing and non-profit. Education, however, is the company’s “legacy division”.

When HUMANeX acquired Ventures, which worked solely in education for 30 years, the importance of that link between community and school came into clearer focus.

“Education is our most mission-driven field, with being able to give back and impact teachers and school districts,” Diediker said. “Communities are focused so much around school districts. So not only did Ventures get founded on that, and not only did HUMANeX get started on that on that, but our president (Brad Black) has instilled that mission that comes with getting a great teacher or principal in a building into all of us.

When assisting in a school’s hiring process, Diediker reiterates her three-word phrase. Select, grow, and multiply. Select the best prospective teachers, grow them, and provide a culture where they feel engaged and challenged.

“The importance of getting the right teacher in the classroom is the thing that will leave the biggest memory because you remember your good teachers and your good administrators,” Hovermale said. “If we can have an impact on one student through one good selection, imagine if you could do that in an entire school district or an entire community. Imagine what that could do for the students and the families in that community.”

When Hovermale looks around a vibrant convention room, he doesn’t see clients, but rather friends and partners. He sees leaders of tomorrow growing into the most capable versions of themselves.

“I’ve had so many good interactions with so many people, and that’s really why I get up in the morning,” he said. “I get to go build relationships with awesome people.”