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Microsoft Channel Chief Schuster Wants To ‘Ignite Movement’ For Women In Tech

‘I’m hoping we can ignite a movement and rally even more people, not just women but men to the cause of driving for gender equity,’ Microsoft’s Gavriella Schuster tells CRNtv. ‘It is something we need desperately. We are going in the wrong direction. There are fewer women in technology today than there were 20, 30 years ago, which is shameful.’

Microsoft global channel chief Gavriella Schuster joins 37 prominent women in history receiving the Athena International Global Leadership Award for her commitment to advancing women in technology.

Schuster is also the first woman in IT to receive the prestigious award.

“I am incredibly honored and humbled by this award and recognition,” Schuster told CRNtv. “The work that I have done on behalf of women in tech is completely because I have a lot of passion in this area.”

Past recipients of the award include NASA astronaut Chistina Koch and the late associate justice of the Supreme Court Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

The Need To Disrupt The Status Quo

As corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Worldwide Commercial Partner Business, Schuster currently leads the company’s portfolio of channel partners, which exceeded $1 trillion in ecosystem revenues, according to Athena International’s featured bio of the C-level exec.

But more than that, it’s her commitment to elevating women to leadership roles.

“I’m hoping we can ignite a movement and rally even more people, not just women but men to the cause of driving for gender equity,” said Schuster. “It is something we need desperately. We are going in the wrong direction. There are fewer women in technology today than there were 20, 30 years ago, which is shameful.”

Now looking at the current landscape, “with the pandemic where women are dropping out of the workforce,” Schuster told CRNtv, “We are at a crisis point and so I’m hoping that we can draw attention to the fact that we have this crisis and we need to rally, and we need to disrupt the status quo.”

“So not only do we need to bring more women into technology, we need to retain women in technology and we need to activate everyone to be an agent of change on behalf of this crisis,” added Schuster.

Celebrating Women Leaders

Christine Bongard, president of The WIT Network, nominated Schuster for the award because “Gavriella has always been a change agent for women.”

And this isn’t anything new for Schuster, said Bongard, “from very early in her career, she would tell me stories about how she would really try to influence—for the women around her, who worked with her, in mentoring circles within Microsoft and even outside of her Microsoft community—things that she would do to lift women up.”

So when Bongard got word of the award she thought to herself: “This award is really about recognition of somebody who is making change for women and she really has done that for a long time.”

A Global Leader

Martha Mertz, who spearheaded the leadership award program in 1982, created the award to recognize individuals who excel in their professions, give back to their communities, and help raise up other leaders, especially women.

“[Gavriella] is that role model that is showing our next generation of emerging leaders; our young girls that are making that choice now, ‘Do I want to be in the math field? Do I want to continue, I’m good at math? But may be it’s not so cool to be good at math,’ and so we really need to have role models out there so that our girls can see it, to be it,” said Andrea Conner, former president and founding lifetime member of Athena International.

Applaud And Praise

“You’ve personally mentored and encouraged the women in our ecosystem to step up, take risks and launch resilient cloud businesses, like ours. From all of us at Mercer-MacKay Digital Storytelling, we thank you,” said Gail Mercer-MacKay, president of Mercer-MacKay Digital Solutions.

“Thank you so much for everything you do in the industry to really advance women in technology,” said Insight CEO Ken Lamneck. “We’re certainly all benefiting from your leadership here.”

“Thank you for being such a great role model,” said Tanja Froehlingsdorf, senior director of Global Partner Marketing at Rubrik. “Cheers to this great achievement , enjoy your celebration.”

“So on behalf of all of us at NetApp, a sincere congratulations, and you know we stand in solidarity with you,” NetApp Chief Marketing Officer James Whitemore said.

To hear more from this roundtable discussion, head over to CRNtv.

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