Women Of The Channel 2016: Advice For The Next Generation

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What advice would you give to young women aspiring to succeed in the workplace? That's a question we asked the nearly 500 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 2016 Women of the Channel honorees of today that may be of inspiration of the Women of the Channel honorees of tomorrow. For more on this year's Women of the Channel, take a look at the 2016 database.

Jennifer Barbic, nfrastructure

Director of Marketing

The greatest "ah-ha!" moment that I had in my career was taking a personality assessment with a group of my peers. It demonstrated how different personality types are motivated and also how teams need all different types of personalities in order to be truly successful. My advice to young women aspiring to succeed in the workplace is to learn from all of the personality types that you encounter and to never assume that everyone is motivated by the same things you are.

Marcy Blair, Cisco Systems

Vice President, Americas Services and U.S. National Partners

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 workgroup 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.

Margaret-Ann Bolton, Red Hat

Senior Director, Global Partner Marketing

If you have any interest in learning something, or taking your career in a new direction, say "Yes" first and figure it out later. You have to just jump right in and go for it. I also would advise anyone, but in particular young women, to never stop learning. Push yourself to go further and do more before someone else comes along and pushes you. If you stretch yourself before you are asked, you'll be ready for the next opportunity when it presents itself.

Leyland Brown, HP Canada Co.

VP, Solutions Canada

Take the time to breathe. Quiet time enables us to be even more effective - it is almost an oxymoron that to slow down we can accomplish so much more. My advice has changed over the years and with the incredible amount of work that gets loaded on to individual contributors every day, this piece of advice is critical to success in the new normal.

Leslie Conway, Digium

VP Global Marketing

Maintaining 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. Rather, take a step back, analyze the situation logically, plan around the obstacle, and take responsibility for the issue while confidently explaining a new direction that may resolve the problem. 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 can help the team stay focused on finding the best solution.

Carolyn Cox, MobileIron

Sr. Director, Customer Acquisition & Partner Marketing

Focus on doing the best job you can rather than looking good to your manager. If you do the former you will always make sound business decisions and can justify your actions. This focus will always lead you in the right direction. Don't worry that you may be the only female in a meeting or on a team. Always engage, never sit at the back of the room, take a seat at the table and find a mentor. Your mentor is someone you can learn from, that will give you guidance and feedback. It does not matter if they are male/female.

Paula Gil, CA Technologies

Director, Global Partner Programs

Build a plan. Young women today have so many options, but with that come just as many distractions. Approach career planning proactively, mapping a course for discovery, refinement and optimization in your chosen field. Most importantly, do not skimp on the discovery phase! As many women in tech can attest, where you end up is often a very different place than where you start. Allow yourself the time to seek out experiences that will help you find or validate your passions.

Katherine Granat, EMC

Director, Global Partner Marketing, Enterprise Content Division

My first piece of advice is to raise your hand. Be the one to volunteer for whatever is needed at the time. You never know where the opportunity to volunteer for a project or role will take you and you may end up traveling a road you never dreamed possible. My second piece of advice is don't become too focused on a specific career "path" you think you should follow. Be open to new opportunities, stay curious, and don't be afraid to fail and seek out criticism. Finally, practice gratitude. Managers love investing in employees who appreciate their job.

Sarah Hamilton, Sungard Availability Services

Senior Director, Solutions & Alliances Marketing

When it comes to balance, we are usually our own biggest roadblocks. Dedication to one's job is an important factor to success, however it's easy to quickly become a workaholic, which has diminishing returns. In order to be the most effective, happy, and creative version of you, it's important to prioritize your personal and professional development and wellness, your relationships, your health, and the things that bring you joy--in addition to your daily task list.

Julie Jones, Avnet Technology Solutions

Vice President, Supplier Marketing

Behind every leader and title is a person. It's not about having a specific job title or working with someone with a specific title, it's about getting to know the person behind the title and letting them know you. Every person has their own story, experiences, strengths, and weaknesses. When you appreciate others for who they are and the value they bring, and work with them as a person first and a professional second, you will learn more, collaborate more, foster stronger working relationships, and in turn, experience more success in the workplace.

Judy Kent, PernixData

Director of Channel Marketing

It is important to understand the go-to-market strategies of market leaders and why they are successful. Illustrate your business relevance to partners and make their job of selling your solutions easier. Know the business motivations of partners and how they have operationalized their processes so you can align your business value and sales approach toward an easy adoption of your solutions into their portfolio. Realize that the market is very competitive and you must create strategic leverage with a high frequency of communication and presence to gain entrance into a new market and retain relevance.

Karen Kesner, CenturyLink

Director, Software Vertical Industry

As I reflect on my career, a recurring behavior has been to fully embrace and make the most of my differences. I have also observed this in many successful women, their explicit refusal to "assimilate" or act like everyone else. Be aware of your differences and then leverage them - your communication style, your thinking approaches, your biases and opinions - put them on the table. Diversity of thinking and decision making is critical to an organization's success. Don't assimilate differences. Make use of them!

Kirsten Kirlin, Hostway Services

Director, Channel Marketing

Build relationships. The relationships you build will not only be applicable for your current role, but will be with you for a lifetime. It seems that everyone knows one another, and you need to start your career off on the right foot by working hard to meet all of your commitments. IT is still a male-dominated field, but women are making great strides. My advice for women is to simply focus on working decisively and intelligently to get things done. Don't second guess your work, but also don't be afraid to take on mentors and ask for advice.

Adee McAninch, Veeam

Senior Manager, Channel Alliance Markeing, North America

Don't worry about what your title is, worry about what you are contributing to the end goal. I think success is having people of all "ranks" take you seriously. Having senior management show the same respect to you (and your opinion) as they would if you were a C-level executive is what it's all about. I don't think a title defines you and quite often, I think it can hinder you. Bottom-line: You can have a huge impact, no matter what your title says. Do the work, and the recognition will follow.

Hope McCluskey, ESET

Channel Marketing Director

I would tell them to first and foremost be themselves. Nothing comes across better than confidence and honesty. Secondly, I would recommend that they look for a mentor for advice and direction. Lastly, connect with and reach out to others. Women are natural connectors and they should use this trait to connect with and network with as many people as they can. Networking helps you learn new things, meet new people, share best practices, receive support on many levels and stay active in your workplace.

Melissa McCoy, Sungard Availability Services

VP, Channels and Alliances

Be your authentic self and don't try to adopt other peoples' style just because it works for them. Be true to your personality and develop your own working style. Also, don't be afraid to speak up. Engage in discussions, contribute your ideas, and be open to feedback. It's the best way to learn and grow.

Sonia A. Morello, Intel Security

Americas Sales & Operations Manager

The most important advice is to be transparent and honest with yourself and others. Identify your goals in life and work every day to achieve them. Listen and learn from successful people in the industry; some of them have had experiences and retain knowledge that you can apply at work and 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 be yourself, let people know your values, and stand by them.

Catherine Ramos, Laserfiche

Director of Operations

A lot of aspiring women feel that they have to do everything themselves to be successful. Yet success doesn't always result from starting with a clean slate. Find a more experienced mentor from whom you can ask advice. Learn what has been done before, so you can find out what worked and what didn't, and if there is something existing you can build on. Or perhaps there may be a service or a company that you can partner with. Most importantly, when something doesn't work, don't make excuses. Instead, learn from your mistakes -- that's how we all grow.

Sylvia Pocs, ShoreTel

Director, Area Partner Business Management

Email and texting are fast and effective ways to communicate, however never underestimate the power of a live conversation or a face to face meeting. If you thrive on email and texting in a business environment, how and what you write does matter. Business etiquette matters. My favorite piece of advice bestowed upon me long ago that I like to pass along is, "make sure the backs of your shoes are in excellent condition, because it's the last thing a customer is going to see as you walk out the door."

Nellie Scott, SAS Institute

Channel Enablement Manager

Learn the language of business, which is financial -- and learn it early in your career. Understand a Profit & Loss Statement, even if you don't manage a P&L; and how every aspect of business (and what you do) affects revenue and profit. Be relevant to your organization by contributing to outcomes and results and accept new assignments with enthusiasm. Have no fear.

Stephanie Sperry, Arrow Electronics

Director of Field Marketing

Don't get into the cycle, or rut, of being a reactive employee. I advise young women to take on a project, start an initiative or build something from scratch. Ownership and being able to think strategically are key elements to understanding leadership and building your own success. The best thing I ever did for my career was starting my own marketing communications business years ago. Though there is a steep learning curve and an abundance of responsibility, there is an unparalleled sense of pride associated with being a self-motivated business owner.

Lori Thomas, MetTel

VP, Client Engagement

Give 100 percent every day and don't get caught up in politics or negative thoughts. Know and focus on your strengths, and cultivate them by surrounding yourself with positive and supportive people. Take whatever you find most inspiring, creative, or strong about who you admire and consciously try to emulate it in your daily activities. Don't be afraid to seek out a mentor or make mistakes -- they will happen. Don't beat yourself up. Reflect, regroup, and get back to it. Try to keep a balance with work and finding time for the people and things you love outside of it.

Jessica Walker McFarland, Splunk

Director, Worldwide Partner Marketing

Never underestimate what you have to offer. Just because you're young does not mean your ideas are not valid or worth expressing. When I look at hiring for a new position, I place an emphasis on traits and ability to work within a team as well as someone who will bring fresh perspectives and challenge us in new ways. For more senior employees, listen to your younger colleagues, let them contribute in meaningful ways and encourage their engagement and ideas. Having the perspective of younger team members will help keep pace with what's top-of-mind for future partners and customers.

Marcia White, Hewlett Packard Enterprise

AMS Relationship Director, HPE Financial Services

Build and cultivate relationships with people that share your values and inspire you to be better than you knew you could be. Make time for these relationships even when you think you have no time. Reach out to people and get to know them…genuinely know them. Spend time asking them questions especially when you do not need anything from them other than to see how they are doing and if you can help them. Ask them for honest feedback and thank them for it. Lastly, make time to reflect, eat right, exercise, and get enough sleep.