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How One Mother Paved The Way For Her Daughter In IT

“When she first started at Ingram, one of the biggest things was when you walk down the hallways people would say, ‘Is Stacie your daughter?’ and I would hear that constantly. Years later it turned around and it was, ‘Oh, you‘re Stacie’s mom.’” says Sue Odrobina, inside sales representative for World Wide Technologies, at the The Channel Company’s Women of the Channel East 2021 conference.

Going into college, Stacie Odrobina didn’t know what she wanted to do. To make matters worse, her identical twin sister went right in to study chemical engineering.

“We hear a lot of conversation about millennials in the workforce,” she said. “Going into college there was an immense amount of pressure, and of course that still exists today. For my generation, we were one of the first that didn‘t really have a choice if we’re going to college. It wasn’t if, it was when. And then on top of that, the state of the economy was a mess.”

Stacie, a global manager of event marketing and partner communities at Ingram Micro, along with her mother Sue Odrobina, inside sales representative for World Wide Technologies, took the stage at The Channel Company’s Women of the Channel East 2021 conference in New York City this week to discuss their unique relationship as two women, a mother/daughter duo, who work in IT.

Before moving to World Wide Technologies, Sue worked at Irvine, Calif.-based Ingram Micro for years.

Stacie eventually decided to major in business marketing, knowing that the tech industry was a growing field. And with her mom working there for years, Ingram Micro was in her blood.

“I remember growing up…every coffee mug had a vendor logo on it,” Stacie said. “Every one of my birthday presents came from the Ingram Micro prize room and every vacation we went on was an incentive trip.”

Sue started at Ingram Micro about 25 years ago as an administrative sales assistant.

“When I started there, I worked extremely hard to learn things,” she said. “You’ve got to remember 25 years ago there wasn’t Google. You couldn’t Google, ‘What is Ingram?’ or ‘What is the channel?’ We didn’t even have Outlook.”

[Related: Erin Brockovich On ‘Stick-To-Itiveness’ And Turning Weakness Into Strength]

All they had were four phone lines where they made all transactions.

“You got used to get learning fast [and] multitasking,” she said.

Very quickly she learned to use her strength in cultivating relationships to her advantage. She would also research customers and their needs to try to make a sale. After working in sales at Ingram Micro for 18 years, she moved to one it’s largest resellers.

Stacie learned a lot from her mom and loved that she’s always authentic. She’s the same at home as she is at work.

“She is unapologetic,” she said of her mother. “She’s strong. She always trusts her gut and she can read people better than anyone I’ve ever met. I think that says a lot about the relationships that she’s built.”

She believes she’s taken a lot of her mom’s qualities to her own job.

There’s a lot of collaboration that goes on in her role that happens on a global scale, which is very hard to navigate during the pandemic. But what she’s learned, from her mother, is to stop and listen.

“There were so many times where I had to stop myself from saying, ‘No, we‘ve already tried that, that doesn’t work,’ or, ‘We need to move faster, let me do it myself,’” she said. “Once you stop and listen, that’s where you build trust. And once you have trust, you can collaborate and have successful relationships.”

And it is all about trust, Sue said.

“What everybody talks about is the trust, showing your customer what you can do for them,” she said. “If you say you‘re doing something and you’re going to do it, they’re going to come back to you every time. It’s not going to be where they’re going to be afraid to come back to you because they’re not sure if you’re going to do what you say. They know you’re going to do it.”

One thing she would have done differently in her career was to sell herself more.

“I think women don‘t do that enough. I’ve seen it over my career,” Sue said. “Men don’t seem to have a problem selling themselves or bragging about themselves, but we do. I know I always struggled with it.”

Working hard and making quotas isn’t always enough. To build relationships, you have to sell yourself, she said. You have to differentiate yourself.

“When I had a success I wouldn‘t cheer for myself, I didn’t brag about it. I didn’t give those success stories,” she said. “But then I started putting plans together and I would write down my success stories, I would put them in front of people, I would say it in front of meetings, I would stand up and brag about myself and that actually got me moving up the chain.”

She couldn’t sit back and wait for someone to brag about her. She realized she had to do it herself. She believes Stacie emulates that and gets her passion and work ethic from her parents.

Sue told the audience the story of when Stacie applied to Ingram Micro. Stacie didn’t tell her mother that she applied.

“The hiring manager called me and said, ‘Do you know Stacie Odrobina?’ she said.

Sue then asked Stacie why she didn’t tell her or use her as a reference when she applied. Stacie told her mother that wanted to get the job on her own.

“I get that, but you just cost me money,” Sue said with a laugh.

But she’s a proud mother nonetheless.

“When she first started at Ingram, one of the biggest things was when you walk down the hallways people would say, ‘Is Stacie your daughter?’ and I would hear that constantly,” she said. “Years later it turned around and it was, ‘Oh, you‘re Stacie’s mom.’”

Connie Santiago, channel sales manager at Nutanix, loved to see the mother-daughter duo because having more and more women in IT “is particularly important.”

“When I started about 20 years ago there were virtually no women,” she said. “I would always be the only female in the room, so think it’s great that [Stacie’s] mother started and kind of branched out and gave her that avenue, and [Stacie] embraced it.”

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