WOTC 2022: Pearls Of Wisdom On Mastering Conflict, Being Authentic And Cultivating Next-Gen Leaders

Gina Narcisi

‘If I had to fit in, I wouldn’t be where I am today, period, full stop. I learned how to stand out every day. What we do as humans is we try so hard to fit in. But the truth is, the value is when you stand out because that’s what people look for,’ said Dell Technologies’ Rola Dagher during her keynote at the Women of the Channel Leadership Summit East.


The Women of the Channel Leadership Summit East 2022 put the spotlight on some of the most prominent and rising women in the IT channel, all of whom brought their own experiences and stories to the table.

Attendees got to hear from a slew of speakers who shared lessons learned from addressing challenges head on in their personal and professional lives. Lessons included everything from being an immigrant and not speaking English as a first or even second language and rising through the ranks to dealing with criticisms, comments and pushback from colleagues and peers.

Being a woman in tech is certainly not for the faint of heart, but with the right support system, sponsors and, perhaps most importantly, a little grit and determination, women can further their careers in IT and in the channel as far as they want to go. Executives from some of the top IT companies, including IBM, Aruba, Dell Technologies and Lenovo, took to the stage at The Channel Company’s Women Of The Channel Leadership Summit East event to share their stories and advice.

What follows are excerpts from the keynotes and panels.

Kate Woolley, GM, IBM Ecosystem, On Bringing Up And Building Up Women Leaders

I think in terms of strategy of how we continue to develop our female leaders and top talent we have to be really intentional about how we attract, develop and retain that female talent. Not one strategy is going to solve this, but I always make sure whenever there’s a slate of candidates for any role that I have to approve, I must see evidence that there has been a significant consideration of diverse candidates. We can’t let these opportunities go past. The second strategy is we have to give our females the chance and the opportunity to shine. And it’s not a free ride. Nothing irritates me more than when people say, ‘Oh, she only got promoted because she’s a female.’


Donna Grothjan, VP, Worldwide Channels, Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company, On How To Master Conflict Through Self-Awareness

It’s really important for all of us that we become really self-aware when different conversations are going on and when we do start to fade, think about what we need to do to get things back on track. I think it’s really important not only that you think about your own personal behavior and how you’re dealing with it, but also how to help moderate the conversation that’s going on in the room.


Mary O’Brien, GM, IBM Security, On The Importance Of Being Authentic

Show up and deliver a message in your own voice, not in the voice of a big corporation. Be prepared, know the message and deliver the message with transparency. Deliver it in a time frame where there can be tons of questions to support follow-up. Don’t assume people know what you want. Share your goals. Share your aspirations. Make sure your boss and your leaders know what you want to do.


Rola Dagher, VP, Worldwide Channels, Alliances, Dell Technologies, On Not Being Afraid To Be You

Being me has helped me be who I am today but also allowed so many people to be comfortable being themselves around me. I continued to hear this: ‘Why her? Why not me?’ Guess what? It’s called determination, perseverance. And no matter how many times I fall down and fail, failure is an option to learn from but giving up should never ever, ever be an option in my book. Truth be told, I don’t have a formal degree. The first time I crossed an academic stage was in July when I was given an honorary doctorate degree at one of the largest universities in Canada because of the impact I have on people, the community and giving back. You do not have to fit in. That’s my lesson. If I had to fit in, I wouldn’t be where I am today, period, full stop. I learned how to stand out every day. What we do as humans is we try so hard to fit in. But the truth is, the value is when you stand out because that’s what people look for.

Natalia De Greiff, VP, Americas Ecosystem, IBM, On Dealing With Criticism And Finding Support  

Throughout the journey, you’ll have people that challenge you. I’m a divorced person for 17 years. I have one son and we’ve traveled all around the world, so you can imagine the kind of questions that I’ve heard. Last year, I was making a presentation and with my broken English, I said the wrong word and one of my colleagues laughed. I was so embarrassed and I said, ‘I apologize.’ My boss at that point jumped in and said, ‘You never apologize. You speak three languages. We barely speak one.’

Cassie Jeppson, Di rector, North America Channel Programs, Lenovo, O n Seeking Different Perspectives

If you meet my squad, I am looking for three main characteristics. I need someone that is brutally honest. Sugarcoating doesn’t work for me, just tell it to me straight up. Make sure that there’s different perspectives. I don’t need somebody who shares my perspective. It’s OK to disagree. The third one, which is one of the most important things for me, is people who are motivated. I want people who are going with me and who I’m bringing along as well.


Gina Narcisi

Gina Narcisi is a senior editor covering the networking and telecom markets for Prior to joining CRN, she covered the networking, unified communications and cloud space for TechTarget. She can be reached at

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