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Women Of The Channel: Stop Holding Yourself Back

Often one of the biggest barriers to success for women in the channel is themselves, a panel of women executives said at the 2015 XChange Solution Provider in Dallas.

Often one of the biggest barriers to success for women in the channel is themselves, a panel of women executives said at the 2015 XChange Solution Provider in Dallas.

According to a recent Hewlett-Packard internal study, which was trying to determine why there were fewer women in senior leadership roles, women were counting themselves short when applying for a new position. The study found that women would only apply for a role when they felt they had met 100 percent of qualifications, while men would apply for the same role when they felt they had only met 60 percent of the same check points.

"We tend to want to be perfect and approval seekers and [are] holding ourselves back," said moderator Lisa Marie Jenkins, author and founder of Lisa Marie Jenkins LLC.

[Related: XChange: 10 Common Mistakes That Are Hurting Your Company Brand]

Jessica Yeck, vice president of sales, HP Solutions, at Avnet Technology Solutions, said she often finds the person holding her back is herself. To achieve this high level in her career, Yeck said she has focused on building "authentic confidence" in herself to create a better internal dialogue and recognizing that others want her to succeed.

Gwen Milligan, senior director of strategic partner initiatives at Oracle, said she found in the past that she often holds herself back from reaching for a higher position because she wants her current position to feel "perfect" first. That's a problem she sees many women having, she said.

"If you feel that you're second-guessing yourself or not deserving to be here, just be engaged because it will provide you time to show those unique qualities," Milligan advised.

Shannon Sbar, vice president of channels, North America, at APC by Schneider Electric, said she has seen success from not holding back in her career.

"I do not hold back. I really try to at least show that confidence," Sbar said.

When she feels that she needs an extra boost of confidence to go for a new role or project, Oracle's Milligan said that she reminds herself that she has unique qualities and was picked out of a crowd of people to do the specific job. When surrounded by a lot of smart, innovative people in the channel, Milligan said it helps to remind herself of the unique value that she brings to the table.

"You have to constantly remind yourself that I'm here for a reason, and I'm a player at that table," Milligan said.

Jenkins agreed that changing your perspective on your achievements is a key part of success in the workplace for women.

"For women, it's hard to honor your strengths because we focus on where we lack. Focus on what you do right. For me, that's always what helped me in my career," Jenkins said.

The women on the panel all agreed that this isn't an easy feat. They all said that they work to build relationships, either mentorships or sponsorships, with up-and-coming women in the organization and the industry to help them achieve the same success they have had.

"Leading by example is definitely a big part of it," Avnet's Yeck said, adding that she actively reaches out to women in her organization that she thinks have a lot of potential.

That relationship goes both ways, the women agreed. Oracle's Milligan said it is important to constantly evaluate yourself for areas of improvement in your professional or personal life, and seek out peers that embody those qualities you look to add.

You don't have to have just one, APC's Sbar said. In fact, she said it's important to seek out all sorts of mentors and sponsors with different qualities and expertise to help you improve in all facets of your career.

The bottom line, Avnet's Yeck said, is to not let barriers, even if it's yourself, hold you back in the workplace.

"I give it my best every single day, and know at the end of the night I did everything I thought I could in an ethical, good way that leaves me able to sleep," Yeck said.

PUBLISHED MARCH 3, 2015

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