We say it all the time, but as inclusivity moves to the forefront and women continue to break the glass ceiling in STEM fields, ripples continue to spread through organizations. The channel is certainly no exception. Women stepping up and inspiring and mentoring young women taking their first steps in their careers is becoming more and more commonplace — just look at the popularity of well-known women’s mentorship group Lean In.
Women of the Channel East is an event dedicated to showcasing the power and influence of women in channel roles and celebrating how that is shaping the future of channel sales and marketing. It’s all about inspiring current and future technology leaders. Several women from Zift attended in early December and came away with insight to share. Let’s give them the floor:
Heidi Parent, Senior Customer Success Manager
‘The energy just grew and grew’ –I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to spend time with some great Zift women at a truly inspiring event. The speakers were motivational and genuinely interested in providing women, both executive and not, with skills to have the confidence to follow their dreams and take the next step in their careers. The energy just grew and grew throughout the event. Networking was great; I met some new prospects as well as some current clients throughout. One James Keller quote used during the event has stuck with me: “A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle.”
Andrea Kottong, Customer Success Director
‘A strong sense of resonance’ — The overall message of WOTC is to encourage women to believe in themselves, take chances, embrace failure as part of the process, and be persistent. These aren’t new or earth-shattering concepts, but the stories from the presenters were compelling examples of these messages and really resonated. With that resonance came a strong sense of camaraderie and connection amongst the attendees that made the networking especially powerful. This was my first time going to the WOTC event and I appreciated the opportunity for the self-reflection and introspection the topics encouraged. I also really enjoyed getting to know my fellow Zift women better and hearing their perspectives on our business. This is a great way to promote the career growth of women at every stage.
Erin Bolton, Strategic Account Director
‘The collective, authentic desire to help each other’ — It was an honor to represent Zift at the WOTC East conference this year. Let me share my experience so you can get a better sense of the event – perhaps you’ll even want to go (women and men alike).
First, you are taken aback by the sheer number of successful women in attendance! There are so many talented, accomplished, articulate and knowledgeable women at WOTC. It is truly inspiring.
After listening to so many successful and passionate women, some of them CEOs, EVPs, authors, or Channel Chiefs to name a few, you are compelled to do better, push harder, accomplish more, mentor, contribute to your community, go to the gym more – suddenly your personal and professional goals have expanded! Okay, in all fairness, the one woman who was a BOD Chairman, author and triathlete made me feel pretty inadequate.
You also have some really amazing one-on-one conversations with very genuine women in the channel. They want to advance and help you in your career. In turn, you want to support and guide them through their goals. The collective, authentic desire to help one another in our profession and create greater results in the industry becomes obvious. You leave exhausted yet rewarded with new knowledge, new connections and a renewed outlook on the power of women in the channel.
Sheila McNeil, Director of Sales, East
‘Dynamic and Diverse’ — I, too, truly appreciated attending this event with this team of women from Zift. This was my second year at WOTC and I found it even more inspiring than last year as the speaker lineup was even more dynamic and diverse (culturally, age and professionally). The second day brought sessions that appealed to women in different stages of their career and challenged the audience to participate with each other and share what we can offer to each other — a message or advice that we may have received in our life and careers that might resonate with the person next to us. My biggest takeaway was a reminder that no matter where that we are in our careers, where we live, what our age is or what our life experiences have been, we have so much more in common than we know, and it connects us universally.
Krista Fuller, VP of Product Marketing
‘So What?’ In sharing her keynote From Ordinary to Extraordinary, Sheri Hedlund, Vice President, US Channel Sales at Dell EMC, asked the audience of 1,000 channel leaders and executives to consider how they could transform their seemingly ordinary business experiences into career-defining high points. As a product marketing leader, the simplicity of the ‘so what’ question resonated with me. She cited how an early executive coached her to answer the question of ‘so what,’ helping her understand the value of engaging the audience directly, clearly and succinctly.
Women are great storytellers, for sure. However, in telling the story, we can sometimes overlook the need to capture the audience’s attention with why they need to listen. Most great stories that you love don’t follow a linear flow. They hook you — That hook is the ‘so what.’ How does this idea impact growth? What is the innovation that will transform actions? How will team performance improve? Remembering to frame key business discussions with the ‘so what’ can help turn ordinary communications into extraordinary communications. I encourage you to give it a try!
Laurie Balcerak, Strategic Account Director
‘Educational, Uplifting and Energizing’ I’ve been attending the WOTC event for a number of years — I think this is actually my twelfth year in attendance — so as you can see, I definitely feel it’s important. It was an honor to represent Zift and be able to say that we, as an organization, had a record number of talented women in attendance (six of us in total).
The event for me is important for 3 key reasons:
It’s so important to devote time to “sharpening your saw” and this is an event that is educational, uplifting and energizing. The overall themes of the event have not deviated much over the years, but topics evolve to remain current to the business climate and we’ve see the attendance grow from less than 50 women to over 1000. That alone is phenomenal (although a bit more challenging to find folks while on-site). The power of women in technology is growing; organizations are committed to the personal and professional development of women at all levels of their careers and that gets me really energized.
The opportunity to engage with colleagues, customers and prospects is tremendous. You can plan 1:1 time with folks you know, reconnect with ladies you’ve not seen in a while and meet new people. In addition, there were a number of sessions that gave various women the opportunity to share their stories and make you feel like a real part of a community. We all get caught up in the day-to-day work that needs to be done (everyone’s “to-do” list is long and impressive), but you realize when listening to the presenters that we all have the capacity to share, mentor, be a sounding board and uplift others like a candle — which can share its light with another without diminishing its own.
The strength and generosity of women in technology is astounding. At each event, there’s an organization in need that is a focus. When women in technology come together, they make a difference. At this year’s event, the women in attendance raised over $20k for this year’s organization. The capacity for giving back and working to uplift others is inspiring – and women in technology understand the value of giving back.
Each year, the event helps me to boost my energy level for that mad dash to the year-end finish line and go into the new year with renewed optimism.
We’re glad to have attended Women of the Channel East and hope to continue that spirit of encouragement and inclusivity through to interactions with customers and internally. Did you attend WOTC or want to share your thoughts? We’d love to hear back from you.