2011 Women Of The Channel: 10 Tips For Young Women Just Breaking Into IT

Words Of Wisdom From The Women Of The Channel

We asked our Women of the Channel what advice they would give to those just beginning their careers in the IT industry: a certain path to follow, some words of wisdom they wish they had received, and the importance of networking all come to the forefront. From their vantage point -- whether new to the channel or not -- here are 10 of their own observations.

Heidi Baker, Vice President, Sales, Bell Techlogix:

Embrace the diversity of teams. I have never seen a better idea come from one person, to address a customer’s needs, than I heard when a team developed a solution.

Barb Burk, Senior Director, Marketing, Zenith Inoftech:

For a young woman to succeed in the workplace today, I think it probably helps if she doesn’t spend a lot of time thinking of herself as a ’woman in the workplace.’ It’s much more important to decide what you want to accomplish in life and spare no effort to do that thing to the best of your ability. More often than not, the ’cream’ will rise to the top.

Annie Flaig, Corporate Vice President, Worldwide Commercial Sales, AMD:

The most important advice I can offer is for young women is to be themselves and stay true to who they are. Far too often I witness young professional women come into the workplace and feel pressure to act like a man would in certain situations. Women bring a unique voice to the workplace, and we don’t want to lose that.

Meaghan Kelly, Vice President, Channel Strategy, Solution Partners Organization, HP:

Take the time out of every month to set aside the phone, the laptop and the e-mail and do some ’big thinking.’ Get out of the box and think about how things can be done differently, better and more efficiently. Once you have some great ideas formulated, don’t be afraid to pitch them to management. You are likely to have a ’golden nugget’ in there that can change the game for your organization or company.

Juliann Larimer, MSSI Vice President, Global Channel Strategy, Programs, Governance, Motorola Solutions:

• Don't be afraid to speak up.

• Choose hard assignments -- that is where you will learn the most.

• Seek roles where you have real P&L responsibility.

• Don't be afraid to move sideways - sometimes that is the fastest way up!

Jillian Mansolf, Vice President, Global Sales, Marketing, Overland Storage:

I would tell any young woman to really trust her gut on what she truly wants to do and then go for it. Never settle for what you think you can do, but go for what you really want to do. No one is going to hand you a perfect career, so go and and make one for yourself. Find a mentor and learn from them. Watch people you admire and take notes. Ask to participate in things that scare you; you will only become stronger.

Mary Piehler, Northeast Region Director, Absolute Software:

You have to have the passion. There are lots of roadblocks and disappointments, and all of them are easier to take if you love what you do. Take the time to get to know the industry, and the people who drive it. Your customers become so much more than a transaction though the years! I am not a believer in "anything is possible," but I know for sure that "many things are possible". Remain flexible, look for the good in all situations, and act with integrity above all else ... at all times.

Brenda Stallings, President, Matrix Integration:

• Interview leaders while you’re still in school. You will learn much about how they got their start and you will be encouraged to follow your dreams. They could possibly invest to help you get started and give you guidance on how to get what you need.

• Learn to communicate and articulate your desires. Be willing to educate yourself on what it takes to grow within a company.

Luanne Tierney, Vice President, Worldwide Marketing, Juniper:

Be thinking about your personal brand. Just like a company or product, you also have a brand and it represents who you are to the world. It’s important that you ensure your brand is saying what you want it to. Think about what you want to be known for. Think about the brand you want to have. Then make sure everything you do in every aspect of your life is reflecting the brand image that you want to reflect.

Michele Weber, Vice President, North American Ecosystem, Channels Marketing, SAP Americas:

Secure a position in a start-up company at least once in your career -- it will foster the cross-functional skills that you can carry through a career at an accelerated pace.