Women Of The Channel 2015: Advice For The Next Generation

Pay It Forward

What advice would you give to young women aspiring to succeed in the workplace? That's a question we asked the 440 female channel leaders honored in this year's Women of the Channel project. While the question is simple on its surface, it elicited a variety of thoughtful responses from women who were more than eager to impart their wisdom to the next generation of female channel leaders.

The following is a sample of responses from the 2015 Women of the Channel honorees of today that may be of inspiration of the Women of the Channel honorees of tomorrow.

Deanne Bergevin

Avnet Technology Solutions

Push yourself, take risks, overcome self-doubt and get a mentor if you don't already have one! As females, we need to help one another and I believe the messaging we provide to the younger generation is key. Encouraging them to express their confidence in their abilities and step up for themselves is as important, just like having a mentor to help guide them through their questions, doubt, fears, etc. If we instill the belief in one's ability and show them that taking risks enriches their experiences, we'll have our future leaders!

Marcy Blair


Differentiate yourself. Everyone expects you to be excellent in the role you are in. Be aware of how you create value for the good of the larger organization. Start a cross-functional work group to solve a business problem and volunteer to lead it. It gives you the opportunity to highlight your leadership outside your current role. Create relationships outside your organization. It's hard to know what opportunities you want to pursue if you are unaware of the work being done in other divisions and if that work might interest you. Shadow a mentor or cross-train to gain exposure to those opportunities.

Lisa Citron

F5 Networks

My best advice is to follow your passion, and do it exceptionally. When you love what you do, you will excel, and people remember you for being a top performer at work. This mantra has served me well in my career, and I believe it's important for women -- and men -- to keep in mind when navigating the workplace.

Laurie Clough


Work hard; draw and maintain boundaries for a healthy life-work balance. Find something you love to do and keep growing in it. Take time to stop and understand the characteristics of a role that you love so when you seek to change, you will know what to look for. Be a mentor; it doesn't matter how old you are, you have something to offer other women/people. Happiness doesn't come from a title, it is about the work you do and the impact it makes.

Leslie Conway

Digium Inc.

I would advise that maintaining your confidence when under pressure is extremely important for success in the workplace. There may be times when things aren't going according to plan and it's important not to panic, [but] rather step back, analyze the situation logically and plan around the obstacle, then take responsibility for the issue while confidently explaining a new direction. An important quality in a leader is the ability to resolve unexpected or challenging issues, while also maintaining team morale. Keeping a high degree of confidence in your actions, without coming across as arrogant, can help the team stay focused.

Meika Darville


Seek out opportunities to do more than what is asked of you, you will end up with an opportunity to both learn something and show others your capabilities. Remember that even if you cannot control the circumstance, you can control how you conduct yourself, your attitude will often be remembered more than your response. Always look for ways to develop your creativity, learn from your mistakes and build a great support team around you.

Laurie Dasher

Dasher Technologies

Expect to start from the ground up and don't be beyond any of the menial work. Learn to be humble. No one will hand you anything and you need to earn everything you aspire for. Know when to seize an opportunity when it presents itself.

Adine Deford


Be confident. Speak up. Learn from those around you, both male and female. There are no "girl jobs" or "boy jobs" -- you can excel in any job you set your mind to. Stay curious and always learn.

Ashley Flaska

NEC Display Solutions

Never stop growing. What I mean by this is, no matter what position you are or aspire to be, there is always room for growth and improvement. If you are just starting out in your career, jump in with both feet -- even if you don't land as gracefully as you planned, you will be recognized for your willingness to go for it. Also, find a mentor who has taken the career path you wish to follow. This will not only guide you, but help you define your own path as well.

Tamela Gates May

Aruba Networks

Do not allow others to define you -- build your own personal brand to define yourself. If someone attempts to define you in a way you are uncomfortable with, respond quickly with your attributes that speak to how you deserve to be defined in order to immediately change their impression.

Julie Haley

Edge Solutions

Toot your own horn: Unlike men, women tend to downplay their accomplishments in the workplace and like to believe that they will be recognized and rewarded if they simply work hard and keep quiet. Young women must confidently promote and articulate their wins and strengths, so they get the recognition that they deserve and a chance for more opportunities. If this is too difficult, I advise that they recruit a sponsor/mentor who will help them build and promote their personal brand. Don't be afraid to ask for help, and find as many mentors as you can. Be audacious!

Sharan Hildebrand

Capax Global

Be yourself -- if you can't be true to yourself you will struggle and (in tandem) be less fulfilled. Identify your passions and strengths and find roles that match. Build a support circle -- identify a leader that you aspire to be or follow and then write down three to five characteristics of that person. Look for mentors and peers that share those characteristics and meet with them often. Get involved -- you get what you give. Volunteer, network, post on LinkedIn or write a blog. Develop your brand through involvement and not sitting behind a desk.

Dawn Jaeger


Keep your thoughts focused on the positive impact you'll have on others. Be grateful of opportunities. When times seem tough, readjust your thinking to positive thoughts, which become your reality. If you find ways to serve others, you'll gain a sense of fulfillment that creates joy for yourself and others. Also, for anyone who feels there are never enough hours in the day to get everything done, I'd suggest that you prioritize each day and tackle the 20% of activities that produces 80% of your results. You'll feel more productive and attain your goals with great ease and less stress.

Pamela Johansen


Develop your communications skills focusing on presenting. Volunteer to give presentations. The more prepared you are, the more confident you will appear, and the more confident you will be. Focus on building your personal brand by thinking about how you convey yourself, how you want to come across, and making it part of who you are. Just be consistent. Build out your right network, including seeking out the right mentor. In [seeking] the right mentor, make sure you find someone that fits what you need. The best mentor is someone that you are comfortable with and you can take risks.

Karey Keiley

Arrow Electronics Inc.

Build your skills and expertise around something you love to do. Get an education in an area that not only has a lot of potential for success on its face value, but that is also an area you really enjoy. I would also tell them to read a lot, whatever the source. And, to not be afraid to speak up.

Sarah Linford


My advice for young women is to remember that it's possible to be easy to work with, while also standing your ground. What I mean by that is, you can convey your opinions and ideas without being overbearing. If your relationships are built on mutual respect, you will be taken more seriously and it will make more of an impact when you're passionate about a topic. And finally, don't change who you are. This may be a male-dominated industry, but authenticity is highly valued -- be yourself.

Wendy Lucas

Dimension Data Canada

Create a Personal Board of Directors -- people that you can call upon to provide you guidance, constructive feedback and a reality check. This consortium should be a mix of people from your company, a different industry, a supporter/mentor. You want to ensure a full and rounded perspective. Do not assume people know what you are thinking about or what you want. You need to have a voice. Back up your "voice" with a record of success and accomplishments, so people want to listen to you.

Sonia Morello

Intel Security

Set up career goals and work every day to achieve them. Listen and learn from successful people in the industry; some of them have had the experiences and retain knowledge that you can apply at work and [in your] personal life. Build a network of people with different backgrounds that can share personal or work interest. But, the most important advice I can give to young women aspiring to succeed is always being yourself and let people know your values and stand by them.

Alisha Munger

Kingston Technology

Be willing to take on new challenges and roles within your organization, regardless of whether you have experience in that task or department. Be open with your management team about your aspirations and goals and do not let roadblocks or setbacks detour you on your career path. Find a mentor outside of your department to help guide you through the organization, and engage with co-workers outside of your department to make yourself more visible and available should an opportunity come up.

Stephanie Nalick


Always strive to continue your education through certifications and advanced degrees. Further, ongoing growth and networking is critical, so seek out smart and loyal mentors who can help you establish goals and timelines. Also remember to be flexible and open to relocating, especially in your early years. Continue to accept challenges within or outside your organization -- take smart risks! And, finally, embrace your femininity in a professional manner -- you don't have to wear a pocket square to gain recognition. Be proud of who you are and who you want to be.

Renee Sanderson


Dress for the role you want, not the one you have. When I say "dress," I mean act, behave, speak and work in the manner of those who hold successful roles above you. Being seen as ready and competent are key to rising within your organization. Take on stretch assignments. Prove your capacity and capability. Smile, and work well with others. People hire and promote people who are friendly and easy to do business with. Most importantly, know your business and contribute at its core. Strive to either be a maker or a seller of your company's most important offering.

Jennifer Schulze


Be resilient, keep growing and get out of your comfort zone. When you encounter setbacks or feel uncomfortable, that is when you learn the most. Don't view setbacks as permanent and be so hard on yourself. Instead, ask yourself, "what have I learned?" and then build on these experiences to be a stronger leader and manager. It is during the setbacks and new opportunities that you learn the most about who you are, what you will/won't compromise on, and the value you bring to the organization.

Molly Sherwood

Avnet Technology Solutions

Be open-minded and embrace change! In my 16 years with Avnet, I've had 11 different bosses, and I learned something important from every single one of them to help me build up my business acumen. This industry moves fast, and you have to be willing to take on challenging assignments and make some lateral moves in order to broaden your skill set and grow your accountabilities. Be viewed as a utility player and someone who leads change and you will be indispensable to your organization.

Kim Stevens

Kaspersky Lab North America

Confidence is crucial. Don't be afraid to speak up, share your opinions, ask questions and have a voice on your team and your company as a whole. Being confident goes hand in hand with being true to yourself. Don't try to be someone you're not. Approach people and situations with grace and act in a way that you can look back on with pride. It's also important to have a collaborative approach to your work -- don't be afraid to ask for feedback and work together with your colleagues to make things happen. And of course, give credit where credit is due.

Martha Tacy


It can be difficult to maintain your persona as you start out in the workplace, but challenge yourself to try. Remember what you value and keep that close. Don't compare yourself to others too often, as it can become self-defeating. Be trustworthy and don't gossip unless you're OK being the focus of gossip yourself. Don't expect the merit of your work to take you places. You have to make noise about what you are doing to be seen and heard. Lastly, never be afraid to ask questions or ask for help.

Barbara Vaigauskaite

CMIT Solutions of Hollywood

You don't have to play golf or smoke cigars to advance and break glass ceilings. You do have to remember that we are different from each other. Find the strength you possess and use it to its fullest. Don't let your family commitments make you feel guilty about work. Bring your family into your work and look at it as your positive reinforcement. I started bringing my twins to networking events: Now everyone remembers me and my girls. Everyone understands your commitment as a mother. Utilize it to your benefit.