2016 Women Of The Channel: How I Achieve Work-Life Balance

Striking A Balance

It's no surprise that succeeding as an IT professional while maintaining a healthy personal life is a challenge. The realization that there's no perfect solution to balancing personal life with a demanding career is even less surprising.

But that doesn't mean it can't be done.

As part of CRN's Women of the Channel project, we've asked the honorees to impart their wisdom on how to successfully juggle work life and home life in a manner that satisfies both.

The following is a sample of these responses. For more on this year's Women of the Channel, take a look at the 2016 database.

Margaret-Ann Bolton, Red Hat

Senior Director, Global Partner Marketing

Be present and in the moment with the people you are with at anytime. As a working parent I've found that I have to have faith in my support system -- be it my spouse or childcare. You need to trust that your support system will take care of home when you cannot be there. It is an upfront investment in thought and energy you have to make, and it's not always easy to know what is "right." But I know if you don't make that investment, you'll never be comfortable at work, especially if you have small children.

Donna Buffett, Citrix Systems

Director, Channel Enablement & NA Distribution

Lose the guilt. I no longer feel guilty if I bring my personal life into my work life and vice versa. It's okay to let them flow into each other. With our flexible work environment, I can participate in notable times in my son's life during the work day such as an early baseball practice or an award ceremony, yet will answer emails late at night or on weekends.

Michelle Chiantera, Cisco Systems

VP, Global Partner Marketing

This past year I have been putting a great deal of focus on the concept of being present. The idea is to make the most out of the situation I am in. If I am working, I am working. If I am with my daughter and husband, I am focused on them. I realize sometimes the line blurs but if I am staying present where I can control it I am personally fulfilled.

Heather Collins, Cisco Systems

Director, Partner Sales

If you don't make balance your priority, no one else will. Create a healthy mind and body by setting exercise goals and getting exercise early in the morning -- you feel better about yourself, and are better able to deal with work-created stresses. Set boundaries that are relevant for your life and stick with them (no answering email on your iPhone during dinner with your husband or no work during play time with kids). Be on vacation when you are on vacation. Empowering your backup to own issues that arise both develops them and lets you stay disconnected!

Trisha Cooke, Avnet Technology Solutions

VP, Supplier Technology Solutions

I believe work-life balance is defined by your own priorities based on where you are in your personal journey. Several years ago, a professional coach recommended an exercise that gave me guidance on how I could rate my priorities in the areas of family life, personal well-being, faith, and career. I then compared the time I spent in each area and very quickly identified that I was misaligned. I was surprised by this discovery, but I was able to build a plan and course-correct. I now use a similar process every year.

Ashley Davis, Impact Networking

Sales Manager

Finding work-life balance will always be an ebb and flow concept; there will be times undoubtedly that you need to dedicate yourself more to the office or more to home. The key is scheduling in personal time and treating it as any other calendared work event in which must be prioritized. For me, that means penciling in working out, having date night, and doing girls night out.

Lisa Dunn, Ping Identity

Enterprise Marketing Manager

Schedule everything; there is an old saying that if you don't write down your goals, you'll never achieve them. Well I believe that if you don't write down the important appointments in both your personal and professional life, you'll never have balance. A very intentional, specific way of calendaring priorities is a must - and doing so reveals what we consider most important. Have an important pitch? Calendar it. Can't miss your child's play performance? Calendar it. You'll be much happier, and perhaps more importantly, those around you will see that maintaining balance is a high priority for you.

Sue Galvanek, AT&T

Vice President of Marketing, Pricing and Product Solutions, AT&T Partner Exchange

For me, it's all about prioritization. You have to be realistic in the goals that you set, focusing on the initiatives that are most important to the business. From there, you have to be willing to accept what happens to the secondary and tertiary items on your to-do list. Whether you delegate them to others on your team, reset expectations, put them on hold or knock them out quickly is up to you, but it's important to acknowledge that you cannot do it all and do it all well.

Victoria Grey, Gridstore


Make sure to take care of yourself. This means get enough sleep, eat well, and exercise. Carve time out of work for yourself. If you have kids, make sure your partner is carrying his/her weight too. Ask friends for help; offer friends help. Share burdens. Get your kids to help too. Don't be afraid to tell anyone, partner, friends, co-workers, boss, what you need to keep yourself healthy and your family happy. You deserve it and it will make you stronger!

Sheri Hedlund, Dell

Executive Director, Enterprise Solutions Channel Sales

Define what works for you and stick to it. Begin by defining your life and work goals separately to understand how each will work best together. I advise those I mentor to define their own needs for work/life balance rather than modeling after others and understand that it evolves over time based on life changes and requirements at work. Very clear expectation setting in both life and work is really most important, as this minimizes friction that can cause undue stress.

Elise Hernandez, Ideal system Solutions

President, CEO

With an enthusiastic approach to life and employment, I prioritize spending quality time with my husband and two children. I also keep an open-door policy with my employees. I keep a regimented exercise program along with healthy eating habits and participate in many athletic and creative activities. I try to provide my family and my employees with a role model and business model which they can be proud of.

Julie Jones, Avnet Technology Solutions

VP, Supplier Marketing

Balance sometimes means more work than life, and sometimes more life than work. You can be very successful at work without working long hours or always being "connected." The key is recognizing that you own how you manage your time. The choices you make set a precedent for your career and your personal life. Do you want to be known for being a great leader or is it as important to be a great wife, mom, friend? You can't be everything all of the time, but you can create balance with what's most important to live the life you want.

Michelle Jones, Stonebranch

SVP Marketing and Business Development

First and foremost, know your priorities and accept that you can't be everything to everyone. It's taken me years to get there, but now that I am, I can give 100 percent in total to work and home versus 100 percent to each. Set goals and stick to them, at home and work. Say no when you know you can't make a commitment, or put a reasonable time frame on it rather than kill yourself to make unattainable deadlines. Get rest. You will make better decisions and commitments with a clear head!

Michelle Kadlacek, Time Warner Cable Business Class

Sr. Director, Channel Partner Program

Schedule the balance on your calendar! You would never think of missing a big sales meeting or a conference call with your manager so get in the habit of blocking out time on your calendar to ensure you have balance. Everyone has a different definition of balance. Maybe it's spending time with your family, exercising, getting a massage, or reading a book. By scheduling the time with yourself, on your calendar, you are less likely to miss out on having good balance.

Krissy Kelley, Fortinet

Senior Director, Partner Programs

My mantra is, "no guilt." It's so important to remain in the present and avoid carrying guilt. I also make time to find time for myself and have fun…with all the pressures of family and work, it's easy to forget about yourself. It's important to enjoy what you do, and the people you're doing things for. Your balance can come from surrounding yourself at home and at work with people that you care about and who care about you.

Lori Koch, NWN

Director of Marketing

Here is what I will say to any young employee. In the evening when you get home, put down your computer and your phone. If you don't take time with your friends and family, if you aren't really there with them, they will notice and you won't get that time back. Understand that you need to take time for yourself and your family. A stressed, overworked employee will not succeed. After a few hours at home, get back at it, you will be refreshed and less stressed the next day if you get some work done at night.

Denyse Mackey, IBM

Vice President Sales, U.S. Technical Support Services, Business Partners and Alternative Channels

Live a life of abundance. Abundance is not determined by how much you have. It comes from how much you appreciate what you have. For those of us working in a mobile sales force, we have lots of flexibility that many others are not afforded -- so, appreciate it. Secondly, I embrace my 10 year old daughter as my best mentor for 'social engagement.' Third, work for a company that rewards based upon results versus 'busy work.'

Adee McAninch, Veeam

Senior Manager, Channel Alliance Marketing, North America

I don't have email on my phone. I refuse to put it there because I'd look at it all the time and I've got three kids and a husband who expect me to be "present" when I'm with them. There are times when I'm really busy, and I do get up early in the morning to get work done, but when it's their time, it's their time. Work can wait. They won't be in the house for much longer so I need to cherish every homework assignment, late night chat, baseball game and "Love you Mom" yell from upstairs.

Tania McIntosh, F5 Networks

Manager, Worldwide Partner Programs

It's hard not to get consumed by work and life in general, but to me, health and family are really what's important. I do yoga after work and I schedule it in my calendar so I make it a priority. Quality time with family, away from technology, is crucial and my husband and I schedule date nights during the workweek. I'm always planning my next vacation so I have something to look forward to on the calendar. Time away is needed to refresh and recharge -- you'll be a better person because of it.

Betsey Pashayan, NetApp

Director, Global Partner Marketing

It's never really possible to balance as much as we want. I work West Coast, East Coast, and even global hours, but I always make sure to be present in what I am doing. When I am at work, I am at work. It's important to work strategic versus doing something to get it done. When I'm with family, they have me completely. Weekends are for splitting my time between my kids, my dad, and myself. When my son asks 'lets get ice cream' after dinner on a Thursday, I go. My computer is there once he goes to bed.

Stephanie Sperry, Arrow Electronics

Director of Field Marketing

I've always said that your career is only as strong as your ability to develop a healthy work-life balance, and as a new mom, I was recently tested to further develop these skills -- all while operating on less sleep! Having the experience of running my own business I have learned how to work more efficiently, manage my time, and prioritize effectively. It's all about working smarter, not harder. I'm also a firm believer in taking time for yourself. Sometimes a long weekend or a vacation is the perfect way to get re-energized and be an even better leader.

Linda Rose, RoseASP


Always be working on a personal goal that has nothing to do with being a business owner, wife, or mom. My last large personal goal was bicycling solo the South Island of New Zealand. It took me time to train, plane my routes, weigh my gearand determine my next stops for food and water. I took a month off from work and met some incredible people, experienced some amazing views, and managed to hang out on my own glacier. This May, I will hike for 5 days along the NaPali Coast on the island of Kauai.

Leslie Vitrano, APC by Schneider Electric

Director, Channel Marketing & Communications

You just have to force it and remember that you are a priority too. I try to plan nights with friends or family on a regular basis so I make sure my schedule is balanced. Additionally, a healthy and active life is important too. I try to make sure I carve out time to be active and athletic. My beach volleyball passion (actually it's an obsession) really helps. It drives me to play volleyball in the sand about 3 nights a week during the summer.

Helen Xing, Tableau

Partner Manager

I believe in making choices more so than finding balances. Life is about learning about yourself, embracing yourself, what inspires you, what matters most, who you would rather be with, prioritize the most important, and determine what comes secondary. It is equally important to determine what to pick versus what to drop. When to say no versus when to say yes. There is no perfect timing. The best we can do is to maximize what we value the most and be able to let go of the other things. For the most important, you will make time.