2016 Women Of The Channel: Female Role Models I Admire

WOTC Female Role Models

As part of CRN's Women of the Channel project, we've asked the honorees to tell us about their personal female role models.

The answers ranged from family matriarchs to colleagues to entertainers. The following is a sample of these responses to provide a look at the female role models who have helped guide the 2016 Women of the Channel honorees into the IT leaders they are today.

For more on this year's Women of the Channel, take a look at the 2016 database.

Elizabeth Bagnas, Eaton

Business Value Marketing Manager

Cecilia Trinidad, my mom, is my role model. She taught grit, devotion, and determination by example. I was ten when my dad passed away, and three years later my mom moved our family from the Philippines to the U.S. She left a good, established career to start all over again so that my two sisters and I could have better opportunities. She never called what she did a sacrifice; she called it an investment in our future. She's a single mom who got all three daughters through college.

Teri Bruns, VMware

VP, Partner Services, Worldwide Partner Organization

My female role model is Jane Goodall, an 82 year-old primatologist. I have admired her since my teen years. As a woman with a vision, she has positively impacted life in Africa for her beloved primates. She is strong, passionate, and unrelenting in her mission to make the world a better place for all. Jane is a woman of action. "What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you make," said Goodall. When life gets hectic, it challenges me to remember this quote, look up and see the big picture.

Mary Campbell, D&H Distributing

VP, 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."

Aimee Catalano, Pure Storage

VP, Partner & Integrated Marketing

I gain inspiration from a variety of women, both professionally and personally. I admire how my friends who are full-time mothers juggle their families and I learn from that. I read books and articles on women breaking down barriers and most recently I read an inspiring article on Jessica Alba. Many know her as an actress. However, inspired by the birth of her first child and her own childhood illnesses she created Honest Company, which provides an alternative to chemical-filled baby products. She's also lobbied to make the testing of children's clothing and toys for chemical inputs more stringent.

Sandra Cheek, Ruckus Wireless

VP, Worldwide Partner Sales

Ellen Degeneres. She is kind, giving, and believes in equality for all. Kindness is missing all too much in the world. She believes in equal rights and freedom for everyone, and is exceptionally brave. As the first woman in the industry to come out as openly gay, she endured negativity and professional loss yet continued to push forward. She has inspired many people to not be afraid of being themselves. She attracts a large audience because of how much she inspires people by striving to make the world a better place, and to make us laugh while doing so.

Tania Darzi, Axcient

Field & Partner Marketing Manager

One of my female role models is Mindy Kaling. She graduated from Dartmouth, embraces her intelligence, and encourages women to do the same. She was the youngest and only female writer on "The Office," and now has her own show. She's confronted issues, such as body shaming and equal pay, in a funny, yet unapologetic way, and is incredibly supportive of other women. She followed her passion and made her dreams a reality, and that is something everyone should aspire to do. Her motto, "why not me?" is a favorite, and one I try to apply to everyday situations.

Katherine Granat, EMC

Director, Global Partner Marketing, Enterprise Content Division

Katharine Graham, publisher of the Washington Post during Watergate, was the first female Fortune 500 CEO and one of the first woman to reach this position at a publishing company. When she stepped in to lead the paper after her husband's death, she had no female role models and struggled in a male-dominated industry. She led the paper with strength and courage during a very difficult political time. She embodied grace under pressure, supported her reporters in spite of threats from political leaders, stepped up to a huge challenge in spite of her fears, and became a respected leader.

Julie Haley, Edge Solutions


Meg Whitman, CEO of Hewlett Packard Enterprise, is not your typical tech executive. She is approachable, results-oriented, and focused on the business aspects of IT. I admire Whitman as a seasoned leader who realizes that technology is the driving force of positive change in the way we live and do business. As the CEO of Edge, I have participated in several roundtable discussions with Meg Whitman and have watched her growth as a leader as she successfully navigated the division of HP into two separate companies, driving growth in both HP Inc. and HPE, and their partners' growth.

Trish Kapos, MicroCorp

VP, Marketing & Strategic Relationships

Marissa Mayer has emerged as my leading female role model. Unaffected by the fact that she was entering a man's world - engineering program at Stanford, engineer at Google - she rose through the ranks and progresses of Google, propelling her career to where she is now as Yahoo's CEO. She is firm in her beliefs on what behaviors make good employees, and fosters the environment for their successes. She made critical changes to Yahoo, literally cutting off limbs to strengthen the foundation. She operates with poise under great scrutiny and has demonstrated that you can have a career and a family.

Eileen MacIsaac, Mimecast

MSP Sales Manager

Malala Yousafzai is a young woman who is changing the world one step at a time by fighting for millions of girls for the right to be educated. She took a bullet to the head on her way home from school and that's when she became not only a role model to me, but to all girls who want to follow their dreams. She speaks her mind and doesn't let anyone tell her 'no.' "I don't want to be remembered as the girl who was shot. I want to be remembered as the girl who stood up," said Yousafzai.

Shay Phillips, AT&T

Executive Director of Technology & Service Management, AT&T Partner Exchange

I'm inspired by Ursula Burns, chairman and CEO of Xerox. It's extremely motivating to see a female leader rise to the top executive level. Ursula shows that regardless of where you come from, you can accomplish extraordinary things. Looking at her background, I see so many commonalities, and it's encouraging to watch someone so relatable attain so much success. We both have humble beginnings, started in entry level positions, and held various roles within our companies to gain an in-depth understanding of the business. She's a classic example that it's what you do with the opportunity that truly counts.

Lynn Sauder, Infor

VP, Channels & Alliances

I have always admired Peggy Noonan since her days in the Reagan Whitehouse. She is now in her mid-60s and continues to writes books as well as contribute regular commentary in the Wall Street Journal. She is articulate and her writing conveys a deep understanding of American politics. While I don't always agree with her 100 percent, her insightful commentary always makes me think and sometimes laugh.

This election year in particular has been so full of sound bites that it great to have someone like Peggy Noonan remind us of the deeper questions we should be asking.

Melissa K. Smith, InteliSecure

Director, WW Business Development & Distribution Partnerships

I've had the privilege of working beside many successful women during my career. However, he best female role models have been those closest to me. My Grandmother, Dr. Mary Anne Frey, had an extensive career in Aerospace Physiology, working for NASA, Lockheed, The Kennedy Space Center, and Johnson SpaceCenter. As a Professor Emeritus, she was on the forefront of women in space, researching the physiological impacts of space on the brain. While she just retired from full time teaching at 78, she is considered an expert in her field, and is looked on as a leader.

Tracy Staniland, Asigra

VP, Marketing

Arlene Dickinson. Arlene is a single mother who started a marketing agency to be able to provide for her family. Her book "All In" explains how she started from nothing, struggled through adversity, and become a successful entrepreneur. To me, her story is very powerful, very inspiring and very encouraging. Today she is a Canadian author, entrepreneur, television personality, and venture capitalist. She is CEO of Venture Communications and is represented by CBC Television in the program "Dragon's Den" as a self-made multi-millionaire.

Elsa Tay, Nexsan

Director, Channel Marketing

Former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt is among my favorite female role models. She overcame incredible obstacles from childhood-into-adulthood, with admirable patience, determination, and grace. No wife of any presidential candidate has ever been as publicly active, vocal, or well-respected. She became one of the country's most astute political strategists – an invaluable asset for her husband before/during his presidency. Throughout her life she remained fervently devoted to not just women's rights but human rights. A friend honored her at her funeral by saying, "She would rather light a candle than curse the darkness, and her glow has warmed the world."

Heather Tenuto, ShoreTel

VP, World Wide Channel Programs & Sales Enablement

Politics aside, this year I've been impressed with the way television anchor Megan Kelly has handled herself during this presidential election cycle. There have been very disappointing characterizations of women and she, in particular, has been bullied. She remains above the fray, despite continued attacks. People who stay true to themselves and their beliefs, despite the current opportunistic environment, are few and far between and should be celebrated.

Kandyce Tripp, Palo Alto Networks

Sr. Director, Head of Global Channel Operations

I admire women who are able to break through the glass ceiling, defy stereotypes, and tackle challenges. They exemplify the type of leader that I want to be. Carly Fiorina is a business executive and former presidential candidate. She served as HP's CEO, an AT&T Executive, and was on the board of several organizations. She also authored "Tough Choices." Fiorina made an impact on me when she served as the subject of a case study for an MBA class. She inspired me to realize the importance of reinvention, perseverance, and that dreams are achieved with passion, commitment, and resiliency.

Cathleen Ventura, Druva

Director of Channel Sales

I admire Sheryl Sandberg, activist, author, and COO of Facebook. Not only has Ms. Sandberg demonstrated that women can break the glass ceiling and become successful executives at major corporations, she has also built awareness that men and women should be equal contributors in the household to achieve work/life balance. When I read her book, "Lean In," she articulated what I have always believed was the right model for working women to be successful in their careers. She inspires me to follow my passions, speak up when necessary, and increase my visibility in the workplace.

Coletta Vigh, WatchGuard Technologies

Director, Global Channel Programs

While there are an impressive number of inspiring women who have fought to break down barriers, Ruth Bader Ginsberg is my current inspiration. Gracefully navigating through potential setbacks along the way, she became the 2nd woman appointed to the US Supreme Court, a position that brings the unique ability to formalize the equal citizen stature of women and men in the face of the law and setting a foundation for today's issues and those in the future. While maintaining an educated and open perspective, Ruth Bader Ginsberg establishes alliances and builds upon incremental successes, while keeping her eye on the goal.

Susan Vincent, Intacct

Director of Partner Services

Kay Yow, former NC State University Women's basketball coach, has been a life-long inspiration. She was one of the most influential figures in the history of woman's college sports. I had the privilege of attending her sports camps for many years as a youth and ultimately playing for her on a summer travel team. She epitomized honesty, sportsmanship, and never failed to inspire with her hard work and winning attitude. She taught me not to chase the "wins," but rather to have a positive influence on anyone I come in contact with – the wins will happen naturally.