Amy Tykeson has a long legacy in Central Oregon, where she was the former CEO of BendBroadband. In 2018, she was named Bend’s “Person of the Year.”
Amy Tykeson is the former CEO of BendBroadband, where she guided the company into a new era of digital technology and community partnerships. Tykeson is currently the managing trustee of the Tykeson Family Foundation, supporting education and healthcare in Oregon. She has served on numerous boards for nonprofits, startups and higher education initiatives in Central Oregon. Among other recognitions, Tykeson was inducted into the Cable Hall of Fame in 2013 and was awarded “Person of the Year” by the Bend Chamber of Commerce in 2018.
Your career spanned many facets of the telecommunications industry. Can you identify one thread that kept you inspired?
I like solving complex problems, and I get a lot of energy from being around smart people. When I started in the 1980s, the industry was exploding, and we had a ball making it happen. At HBO, I couldn’t imagine another environment as fun or interesting. But working in operations at Bend Cable was fascinating. Working with innovative people who transform problems into positive change—that inspires me. Like many of my peers, I got involved in the Women In Cable organization, which allowed me to experience leadership and expand my skills. Similar groups can be found in most industries, with valuable opportunities for young professionals to flex their business muscles.
Learning to flex business muscles is great advice. What other suggestions would you offer young women launching their careers?
Most importantly, gain as many experiences as possible. Flex your muscles through volunteering, and build your portfolio of skills both within your organization and in the community. Second, develop the habit of thinking ahead. Plan how to navigate the waters before you present new ideas, and prepare answers to objections you might encounter. A pre-mortem, in effect! Then do a post-mortem to develop a game plan for your next goal. Finally, support other women. For example, in meetings when one person’s ideas are ignored or restated by another, be sure to give credit where it’s due. Also, feedback is critical. Ask for it, and ask permission to give it. That’s not always easy.
Do you feel that young women have a different toolbox of skills today?
I see more independence and self-reliance today, maybe because they’ve seen more role models. There’s a greater ability to speak up and share one’s opinion. Young men, too, now grow up seeing women as vital to the economy and the community.
Your father left a legacy of philanthropy, and you’ve continued that tradition. How does supporting community fit into your definition of a good life?
My dad always said it’s incumbent upon us to be good stewards, and I subscribe to that. Every one of us can give back with talents, time or financial resources. It’s part of being a whole person to reach beyond our own little bubble, nurture good works that help people thrive and improve the environment for future generations. I feel fortunate to work on projects that strengthen our community. In particular, I appreciate organizations that bring together different voices—many nature conservation groups follow that model. I also admire the Bend Science Station’s approach to getting more science in front of kids and teachers. And I’m very excited about developments at OPB as we approach the 100th anniversary!
What else are you thinking about now?
I’m still asking myself how to best use my time and gifts. Our young people need adaptability and resiliency, in order to flourish in the future. How do we instill the tools to cope through tough waters? I don’t have the answers, but I want to sharpen the saw and augment the impact I can have on our many needs. On a personal side, I’m thinking about establishing new family traditions. I relished the shared experiences my parents created these past decades. As our family’s elders pass on, it’s now our privilege and our priority to build on the delight that comes from spending time with those who matter most.