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Mother, Daughter Share Insights On Two Generations In IT

At the Women of the Channel West Leadership Summit 2021, Aruba Networks’ Channel Chief Donna Grothjan and her daughter, Katie Grothjan, digital marketing manager for solution provider giant Ingram Micro, shared their experiences as women of two generations in IT.

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What’s your advice for the other person’s generation?

Donna: I would say that what I have found different, especially being able to be shared with spend time with [Katie’s] friends and my son’s friends … [They are] all in. I think that is what I see in the millennials that we hire that work on our team and that we interact with. What I would say is: how do you how do you take that motivation and that boldness, and be able to craft it into being able to influence? Because influencing is so important. I think sometimes because you haven’t had the opportunity to live the decades and learn that experience, there’s this level of boldness. But at the same time, how do you really turn that into more influence? Because as you work for more companies, or the companies that you work for like Hewlett Packard Enterprise — it’s a large company — and we have, no matter what, at any point in time, two bosses or three bosses, or you’re working at a mass cross-functional organization, and you need to influence. In my day, I was so shy, I thought “Oh, the hierarchical structure is this.” And there were five levels above me, so I expected if there were discussions to happen in a room, the five levels above me would answer in this hierarchical structure. But that’s not really today. It’s so great to see how many millennials an opinion and they put it out there. But sometimes, to be honest, when they put it out there, I’m a little bit like: “Okay, I heard you, but I’m not sure that you’re taking everything into perspective.” Si [it’s about] crafting that [boldness] and making it more intellectual, as opposed to just making a statement.

Katie: My biggest advice for Gen X working with Gen Z would be to retire the phrase: “That’s the way we’ve always done it.” There are a lot of companies with really established brands, goals and visions, and I would just suggest that you should always be challenging that, even though they’ve been in place for so long. Maybe just an example is company profiles on LinkedIn usually have very technical writing and a Gen Z might argue to bring in a lot more personality into your corporate channel even though it’s scary, but the person on the other side is still human. So just being open to challenging these [historical] ways.


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