Women Of The Channel: Executives I Admire

Who Inspires You?

Most top executives have at least one person who has shaped their lives, whether personally or professionally. Following is a who's who of those highly influential people who have helped mold CRN's Women of the Channel into the leaders they are today.

Rhonda Marie Hain, Manager, Strategic Alliances, Autotask

I admire Autotask CEO Mark Cattini, for his vision; Tim Cook, for his rise to the top at Apple; and Meg Whitman, for beating the odds.

Nicole Katherine Enright, Vice President, Strategy Development, Execution, Avnet Technology Solutions, Americas

Steve Jobs made Apple the leader in consumer technology, while offering the best customer experience available today. He developed a strong culture and team that continues to make Apple synonymous with innovation and customer satisfaction. Also, Meg Whitman, former CEO of eBay and current CEO of HP, began as a strategic planner (as I did), and demonstrated that a good plan along with excellent execution, equals results. I look forward to seeing her do that with HP.

Laurie Potratz, Senior Director, North American Channel Sales, Brocade

There are so many executives I admire; it’s hard to name just one. Those I admire most do a great job at multitasking, maintain very public and private lives, and stay focused. They achieve without constantly reminding people of their dedication or service. Many of them give back extensively to the community. They also don’t forget where they came from and how they got to where they are, which is important when driving an organization.

Sabra Jan Willner, Director, Global Partner Communications, CA Technology

Shelly Lazarus, chairwoman of Ogilvy & Mather, and a fellow Smith College alumna. Mrs. Lazarus propelled herself through the male-dominated, corporate world to become chairman and CEO of the billion-dollar advertising agency. She is passionate about brand building and delivering a relevant, thought-provoking message. She reminds us to be creative and thoughtful, while focusing on keeping one's priorities in line at all times.

Lucy Graham, Director, Marketing, Carousel Industries

Coming from the marketing world, I admire Steve Jobs. He was a pioneer and a genius and did what nobody else thought could be done. He remains a huge inspiration and to me and has always been an enormous influence. Another person is Carol Meyrowitz of TJX Group, who came up with the phrase 'fashionista." She has been able to effectively rebrand and restructure that organization to be the great place that we all know now. She brought it to a new level and in a tough economy -- I admire that.


Robyn Michelle Howes, President, Certified NETS

I admire Carly Fiorina for breaking glass ceilings. Also, Arlin Sorenson for his open association with peers, his success in our industry and leadership in our industry. And, Gary Pica for his belief and mentorship.

Lisa Marie Jenkins, Senior Product Marketing Manager, OnPlus Cloud Services, Cisco

Sue Bostrom, former EVP at Cisco. From the moment I saw her present at a Cisco sales meeting in 2000, I was inspired by her leadership style and uniqueness as an executive woman. She is somebody that I aspire to be more like.

Kimberly King, General Manager, Senior Vice President, Worldwide Channels, Alliances, Compuware

Indra Nooyi, PepsiCo. She strives to strike a balance between corporate and social responsibility and she seems to have a grasp on how to achieve this with what seems like little effort. From an abstract from a letter to shareholders: "To ensure a continuing climate in which it can prosper, the modern company must take an active role in civic, cultural and community programs. While results in this area are less tangible and harder to measure than sales or profits, they are no less important."

Mary Campbell, Vice President, Marketing, D&H Distributing

Gail Evans, former CNN Executive VP. Gail is the author of one of my favorite books, "She Wins, You Win: The Most Important Rule Every Businesswoman Needs to Know." She is also a columnist, writing articles on women in the workplace. I heard Gail speak at a Cisco Women's Forum and gleaned so much from her talk, as well as her book. She asserts that you have to create your own rules to win in the game of business, because the rules of business were made by "the boys."

Sonia St. Charles, CEO, Davenport Group

Michael Dell has done a remarkable job of transitioning Dell's business model. Even five years ago, Dell was viewed as a PC manufacturer that competed directly against the channel. Today, Dell has an enterprise-level value proposition and has embraced the channel. Recognizing the opportunity and then positioning a company of that size to capitalize on the opportunity is only easy on paper. Michael Dell has earned my respect for creating the vision and executing to achieve the envisioned goal.

Donna St. Denis, Channel Marketing Manager, Eaton

I admire anyone who launches his or her own enterprise, small business or works as a consultant. It takes courage to recruit customers, market your business, network and more. Not everyone ends up like Bill Gates or Steve Jobs, but we never know where it can lead, and it is very rewarding.

Julie Christiansen, Director, Global Channel Marketing, EMC

Linda Connly, who runs Global Inside Sales & U.S. Midmarket Geography for EMC, leverages her sales, marketing and operational experience to develop strategies and incubate new organizations, and is unique and outstanding. Rauline Ochs has amazing vision and leadership among channel executives. My friend and mentor, Jeff Murphy, is a strategic sales visionary who is brilliant at developing GTM strategies. And, who is not in awe of Allison Watson from Microsoft?.

Kelly Ashton Carden, Manager, North American/French Channels and Alliances, Epygi Technologies

After working for him, I admire Southwest's Herb Kelleher. On a daily basis, I saw his innate ability to remember every employee he had ever met. He treats both veteran and new employees alike, as if they are all a part of his extended family. Kelleher is a legend among all 33,000 Southwest employees; therefore, by making these employees feel special, Kelleher in essence made them even more committed to carrying out the Southwest service.

Sandra McKeon, Director, North American Channel Sales, EVault

Terry Cunningham, president and GM At EVault, continues to be an inspiration because of his energy, motivation and ability to weave humor into his leadership style; it's an effective combination. Also, Renee Bergeron, Ingram VP, has made a significant impact in the cloud computing market in a relatively short period of time, bringing a fresh approach to the channel. I've had the pleasure of talking with her one on one, and she is extremely bright and approachable.

Cindy Marie Tregoning, Worldwide Channel Sales Programs Manager, F5 Networks

John McAdam. [The F5 CEO] is admirable to me because he is humble, approachable and a leader you would follow anywhere. Sounds simple, but so many leaders are individuals you wouldn't follow, but just have a position of power. John has qualities where he is very approachable, you can talk openly with him, he does listen and yet he is the CEO of a billion-dollar company.

Nina Lutjens, Vice President, Sales, Fujitsu

I really admire Anna Wintour. As the editor-in-chief of Vogue magazine she has been shaping the fashion industry for over 20 years. In a man's world, her strength and vision emboldened her to be the first woman to feature a woman in a pair of jeans, a controversial portrayal at the time, on the cover of a magazine. Her influence in the fashion industry is admirable, and we have her to thank for "casual jean Fridays" at the office.

Lila Kee, Chief Product Officer, GlobalSign

Ryan Hurst, a 10-year Microsoft veteran, who early this year was appointed CTO for GlobalSign. Ryan has authored a number of patents relating to security and software design. Ryan's experience and reputation in the PKI and SSL community has established him as a man of integrity and vision I admire.

Jane Cage, COO, Heartland Technology Solutions

Eric Matorano from Microsoft, for his focus on giving back through the channel; John Fago, for his absolute integrity; Justin Crotty, for creating a new business model at Ingram, and then having the courage and conviction to become a supplier to the program he created.

Holly Garcia, Vice President, Strategic VAR, Ingram Micro U.S.

IBM’s new CEO, Virginia Rometty for her leadership, poise and success at the helm of a company dominated by male executives. Also, Lisa Locklear, Ingram Micro’s CFO. Lisa is a highly regarded executive, is talented, personable and very involved in the community and philanthropy.

Lisa A. Dreher, Vice President, Marketing, Business Development, Logicalis

I admire executives who possess a clear understanding of why they are doing what they are doing. Their ability to share their passion and drive with others can make incredible things happen. I also admire the people that truly make a difference through the work they perform. They take risks and follow a path that often requires a machete and perseverance to follow. These are the people making a real difference in our world today.

Stephanie Novak, Manager, Worldwide Channel Enablement Programs, McAfee

Early in my career, I had the opportunity to briefly work under Donna Troy. [Currently Dell's vice president and general manager, Enterprise Solutions, Public Large Enterprise Worldwide.] She has done it all and been extremely successful. Driving both direct and indirect sales, running global channels for some of the biggest vendors in the industry with a track record of results and growing market share. Her approach of simplification of process and removing obstacles made a lasting impression on me. I still to this day draw on experiences and lessons learned from her and her team.

Cindy Bates, Vice President, U.S. Small, Medium Sized Businesses, Distribution, Microsoft

I have tremendous respect for what Bill Gates created with Microsoft and even more for his willingness to refocus his talents, passion and wealth to help create a better world. I also include Yvon Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia, who created a very successful company from scratch while balancing a strong sense of corporate social responsibility.

Deandra Lee Cassidy, Director, Global Channel Programs, Polycom

I admire Julie Parrish, Senior Vice President, Worldwide Partner Sales at NetApp, who is the first woman who truly made a lasting impression on me early on in my career. Throughout the years, I have watched Julie as she has become one of the most influential and respected executives in the channel. She leads by example, takes risks, and demonstrates extreme professionalism and poise as a woman leader in the industry.

Johnna Bowley, Senior Director, Channel Strategy, Programs, Riverbed Technology

I admire executives who lead their companies to do great things with employees who are proud to be a part of it and love to come to work to every day. The real sign of a great company is what its people think of it. At Riverbed, I’ve had the incredible fortune of working with some of the best and brightest – Jerry Kennelly, Eric Wolford and Dave Peranich. Seriously, it doesn't get any better than this.

Kari Reibold, CEO, President, Whaleback Systems

I admire executives that know where they fit in the life cycle of the company. I look to the founders and early CEO of Cisco – Len Bosack, Sandy Lerner, and John Morgridge. Cisco had a strategy for the evolution of the CEO office. I also admire innovators that either shape new technology -- such as Steve Jobs -- or have the ability to see major technology shifts and capitalize on them -- such as Promod Haque.