2014 Women of the Channel: My Female Role Model

Women Inspiring Women

When CRN asked the 2014 Women of the Channel to identify their female role models, the answers were as varied as the honorees themselves. Family members, especially "Mom," were popular choices, as were tech leaders such as Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg. But the list also included a bevy of athletes, celebrities, authors and personal mentors. Here's a look at how some of this year's Women of the Channel answered the question, "Who is your female role model?"

Wendy Bahr, Cisco Systems

Senior Vice President, Americas Partner Organization

Diana Nyad at 60 years old was the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without a protective cage. It took her 35 years, and she accomplished her goal on her fifth try. I love her quote after she finished her historic swim -- "One is we should never, ever give up. Two is you never are too old to chase your dreams. Three is it looks like a solitary sport, but it's a team."

Janis Baldwin, Nth Generation Computing


Meg Whitman. In my experiences with Meg, I have found her to be a great listener. She listens intently to the person she is speaking to, she has the uncanny ability to remember previous conversations and takes her time to thoughtfully formulate her answers. Meg has the ability to motivate and drive a large staff with their full support. I attribute this to her being consistent, to conducting herself with integrity, her great communication skills and not being afraid of hard work. She is always willing to roll her sleeves up and work side by side with her staff.

Cindy Bates, Microsoft

Vice President of SMB and Distribution

One leader who comes to mind is Indra Nooyi, CEO of PepsiCo, who is known for her people-centric leadership style. I recently read that she often writes personal notes to her employees' parents, conveying her appreciation of the employee's accomplishments. It's a unique way of recognizing people for a job well done, and it reminds us all that a business is nothing without its people.

Barbara Beckner, Global Technology Resources

Vice President, Federal Programs

Without a doubt, Susan B. Anthony, she pushed for equality for women in all aspects of their lives -- equality in their marriage, equality in the workplace and most importantly to me -- equality at the ballot box. Her tireless campaign for nearly 75 years paved the way for all women to have the opportunity to be viewed and respected as an "equal." I still have my first Susan B. Anthony quarter in my jewelry box (and not because the Coke machine wouldn't accept it due to its odd size)!

Asa Black, Nimbo

Director of Marketing

Australian aerial skier Alisa Camplin, who won gold at the 2002 Winter Olympics. Alisa's determination, motivation and perseverance through hardship is admirable and something I aspire towards. The way she tactically and strategically trained, researched and planned every jump to the minute detail showed the world that with the right mindset and drive you can accomplish anything. I believe this can be applied to any situation, sports as well as business, studies and personal development.

Linda Brotherton, ConnectWise


Estee Lauder, who as the child of immigrants built a business that controls a significant portion of the cosmetic industry. She personified the mantra of "think globally, act locally." She never lost sight of the personal touch that makes a business work.

Mary Campbell, D&H Distributing

Vice President of Marketing

Former CNN Executive Vice President Gail Evans. Gail is an established, best-selling author of books like "Play Like a Man, Win Like a Woman," and is a successful motivational speaker. Her common-sense approach on how women can excel in the workplace is inspiring. She is a wife, mother and talented corporate executive. I heard Gail speak at a Cisco Women's Forum and gleaned so much from her talk, as well as from her books. She encourages women to create their own rules in order to succeed, because the existing rules of business were made by "the boys."

Kristin Carnes, Nimble Storage

Director of Worldwide Channels

J.K. Rowling, for a variety of reasons. To start, she was the first author to negotiate the royalties from e-books for her Harry Potter series. Women are often underestimated for their skills in negotiation, and she is an example of someone who not only did it well, but did it first. In addition to being one of the world's most famous authors, she dedicates time and resources to support a charity in search of a cure for Multiple Sclerosis (MS), as it has affected her family directly, something I deeply admire.

Rachel Cassidy, Red Hat

Vice President, Global Partner Strategy and Enablement

Sheryl Sandberg is a controversial role model. However, I respect her approach, her style and willingness to speak out regarding experiences when others advised against it. She has been very successful in her career taking risks and confronting internal fears and struggles for "integration" and guilt in finding balance with her personal life. I appreciate her challenges and found many of her stories validating. I also appreciate her guidance to get outside of your comfort zone, look for high growth potential, and not settle for what others think you should do.

Lisa Citron, F5 Networks

Director, Channel Sales

I consider Charlotte Beers, former Advertising CEO and Chairman and Undersecretary of State, an incredible female role model. This year I read her book "I'd Rather Be in Charge", and it had a meaningful impact on me. Charlotte believes women must forge their own paths to a deeper self-belief, as self-esteem allows women to be persuasive and influential at work. Her book helped me realize that so many of the roadblocks we create as women and businesspeople are self-imposed. Charlotte is an excellent teacher, and encourages women to have a deeper knowledge of themselves to push to the next level.

Leslie Conway, Digium

Vice President of Worldwide Marketing

Dara Torres is a five-time Olympic swimmer, mother, model, TV personality and motivational speaker. At the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008, Dara became the oldest swimmer to compete in the Olympic Games at age 41. Her attempt at the 2012 London Olympic Games inspired many older athletes to consider re-entering competition. Dara inspires audiences from all walks of life with her message of encouraging big dreams, perseverance and healthy living -- and reminds us that age is just a number.

Cheryl Cook, Dell

Vice President, Global Channels & Alliances

Condoleeza Rice. She is such an intelligent courageous, confident woman. She has accomplished so much and conducts herself with such strength and grace, while never shying away from her femininity.

Anna Dorcey, EMC

Senior Director, Americas Partner Marketing

My female role model is my mother, Gerda Dorcey. I can still hear her earliest career advice and know what true support is from one woman to another. Her advice was simple: do what makes you happy. She has taught me -- not through words, but through action -- what it means to be a strong, yet kind person and to make the most out of your relationships. Lastly, my mother has showed me how to persevere, even when things might be at their worst, and if you keep focused, you will achieve to your goals.

Kim Girards, The Ergonomic Group

President and CEO

Sandra Day O'Conner. She inspired me with her ability to break the ultimate "glass ceiling" by being appointed as the first female Supreme Court justice.

Sandra Glaser Cheek, Extreme Networks

Senior Director, Global Partner Strategy, Programs and Enablement

Malala Yousafzai is a voice of hope for 57 million children who do not have access to education. Yet, just over one year ago, few of us knew her name. She is only sixteen, and is already a young woman with the power to inspire a generation. She has known war, oppression and terror, yet she seeks to overcome it with peace and equality. She is using her intellect and fearlessness to change the world. I cannot think of a young woman who would make a better role model for a generation of girls -- especially my own two daughters.

Nancy Gorski, Strategic Mobility Group


My mother, Jacqueline Gorski. She had the grace of Jackie Kennedy and intelligence of Eleanor Roosevelt. She recognized my independence early and encouraged it to flourish. She encouraged me to be my own person, a compassionate leader. She'd applaud my successes then take me to soup kitchens so I could give back. She taught me that there are consequences to everything -- good and bad. She taught me the importance of family, but family didn't have to be blood. She taught me how to really listen to what someone was saying. A smile, hug or touch meant more than words.

Mary Ellen Grom, Synnex

Vice President, U.S. Marketing

Ellen DeGeneres. I admire her consistency in standing up for what she believes in, no matter what. Her genuine sense of humor, enthusiasm for music and dance and whole-hearted authenticity are influential. She is a spokesperson for brands that influence the livelihood of women -- Cover Girl, JCPenney. She is loyal to her roots and heritage in New Orleans and is a raving fan of her mother. She ends each episode by asking viewers to ’be kind to one another.'

Laurie Harvey, NaviSite

Director of Channel Marketing and Programs

My female role model was an old supervisor, Sharon Jones. As a young professional, I tended to question the policies and the politics of our organization. I was never a "yes" person. Sharon taught me how to manage both my peers and, more importantly, how to manage upward. I learned through her leadership that good relationships drive success. She used to say I was one of the hardest people she ever had to manage ... She taught me well.

Michele Hayes, Riverbed Technology

Vice President, Global Partner Programs and Operations

Patricia Burke, now a capital investor, was my role model and mentor when I started working with the channel. She was the only female executive in a male dominated company. She taught me to speak up, take risks and to not be afraid of failure. I highly recommend that women find a mentor to help guide and support them. Of course the ultimate role model is my mother, a stay-at-home mom with six kids, eight years apart in age from oldest to youngest -- without a doubt, the best training for multi-tasking, management, and execution I have been a part of.

Nadia Karatsoreos, JetStream Networks

Partner Development Manager

Hillary Clinton: Her long-term commitment to the cause of women led her to create the position of U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues in the beginning of her term in 2009. The aim of the office is to "ensure that women's issues are fully integrated in the formulation and conduct of U.S. foreign policy." Also her ambition in the face of personal and professional struggles and her devotion to her family is so encouraging to all women.

Kimberly King, Progress

Vice President, Global Partners and Channels

Arianna Huffington has a great sense of self; she understands and gives a voice to women around the world. Knowledge is power, and her ability to educate, inform and empower women through her books and website is a valuable asset for women.

Christine Linthacum, NetApp

Director, Worldwide Partner Programs

Amelia Earhart -- a lightly educated yet successful business woman who counseled women on careers, had a spirit of adventure, determination and the guts to pursue her passion.

Melissa Lyons, Sophos

Senior Channel Marketing Specialist

Mindy Kaling is someone who I've definitely come to admire. Not only is she an actress and a comedian, but she's also a writer, a producer and a business woman who knew what industry she wanted to be in from the start and made it happen. She worked her way up and is now the one making the rules. She is confident and relatable, and promotes a strong message of self-acceptance without being too serious or pushy about any of it.

Renee Meisenbach, SanDisk

Director, Global Channel Marketing

Adama Paris. Adama is a fashion designer that started creating her fashion designs based on her personal experiences. Adama grew up without any financial advantages and from a small town that did not offer her traditional training one would expect from a metropolitan area. Adama is now one of the top designers, but the reason she is my role model is because she did everything her own way. Adama believed in herself and her vision and put all of her effort into creating her own success. She is an inspiring, creative, intelligent and successful woman.

Ellie Nazemoff, Acolyst

President and CEO

I've always admired actress Angela Lansbury for her talent and dedication to her craft since her days of playing Jessica Fletcher on "Murder She Wrote." After 12 years on that show, she kept acting and performing in shows and films, improving all the while. Now 88 years old, she was just honored by the Queen at Windsor Castle. She is my role model because her passion for her work has kept her from retiring or slowing down.

Kari Oldach, Carbonite

Director of Channel Marketing

Oprah Winfrey. Enough said.

Susan Paul, Pariveda Solutions

Vice President, Strategy Practice

My Aunt Irma who died almost 20 years ago at 101. She escaped Nazi Germany in the 1930s, hiding in mountain caves for almost a year, before making her way to the U.S. Traveling into her mid-nineties, I remember hiking with her in Switzerland one summer. I was in my early twenties and she was in her eighties and still able to hike the Alps. She had a wonderful attitude towards life, saying "When life is tough, keep pressing on." The energy and excitement she brought to all she encountered has always represented how I wanted to live my life.

Ania Pereira, Ixia

Channel Marketing Manager

Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo. With her engineering, business and leadership background, she redefines the role of women in today's world.

Maureen Perrelli, EMC

Senior Director, Global Distribution

I find Tina Fey very funny. She is extremely accomplished and successful in her field and has worked very hard to get where she is today. She is innovative, driven and, most of all, enjoys what she does which seems to only continue to fuel her success.

Christine Zagielski, Lumenate

Regional Vice President

The ability to shape the country's opinion through her writings and public stances on social issues made Harriet Beecher Stowe a leader in a time where women did not have a loud voice. When you combine that with her amazing courage and trailblazing chutzpah, you have a great role model. As an abolitionist, author, and champion of social issues, Harriet's impact on the country's moral defining moments was intense. Despite losing the support of her mother, who passed away during her childhood, Stowe was able to find the ability within herself to become a significant influencer.