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In Their Words: How Women at Intel are Influencing the Channel

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CRN has now unveiled its 2020 rankings of Women in the Channel, and the Power 100, which included a number incredible leaders from Intel. These women are making big impact on the channel and playing an important role in technology.

To celebrate the incredible contribution of the women on this year’s list, we reached out to our Intel winners to get their views on a range of topics.

Here’s what they had to say, in their own words.

What are STEM careers like and how can we get more women interested in pursuing a technical career journey?

“Most STEM careers begin either as a result of formal education, or through exposure to technology and or personal interests! Technology is always changing, so it’s important that people entering this kind of a career are excited about being on a continuous and lifelong learning curve,” says Tiffany Sargent, a Senior Principal Engineer at Intel. “One thrives on constantly scanning the world around you and continually revamps how and where you spend your energy and focus. Learning is taking on a broader meaning than just technical skills, it is now accomplished through personal exploration, mentorship, volunteerism, new jobs, or even stepping out of a daily routine and comfort zone to try something new. One thrives on constantly scanning the world around you and continually revamps how and where you spend your energy and focus.”

Where do you see women having the greatest influence in the channel/making the greatest impact?

“What I’ve noticed and admired is how much time women generously give, in mentoring, sharing best known methods and paying it forward. Whenever I attend Intel Partner Connect events worldwide (and virtually this year!), it’s fantastic to see new leaders emerging, as well as companies that have bold ideas disrupting traditional business models. Diversity and sharing are critical to foster the creativity and innovation needed for the channel to continue making its impact,” says Michelle Johnston Holthaus, Executive Vice President, Chief Sales Officer & General Manager Sales, Marketing and Communications Group at Intel.

How would you describe top skills for success in the IT channel to young women considering this as a career?

“Strong collaboration skills and the ability to build partnerships are critical to a career in the IT channel, and really any other industry channel. Creating win-win partnerships is something, I believe, women do naturally, and if women can draw on that strength throughout their career, they can enjoy real success,” says Kim Carlton, Director of Channel Marketing and Sales Development. “In the IT channel, it takes many different companies and products to solve customer problems. Making those partnerships work takes creativity, flexibility and collaboration.”

“I would also encourage women considering this as their career to develop their technical skills. As we move into the data-centric era, capturing, understanding and using data will open opportunities for people interested in analytics, not to mention the opportunity this presents for the channel.”

What makes working in the Channel an exciting career path?

“Over the many years I’ve worked in the Channel, I’m continuously inspired by how Intel’s partners transform their business models to drive new growth strategies. It’s a dynamic industry that thrives on innovation,” Johnston Holthaus says. “As we enter new markets together, having diverse perspectives across organizations is critical for success.”

“One of the most exciting things about careers today, especially in STEM, is that we have the opportunity to continually refresh our skills at any stage of our career and to pivot directions, thus creating new possibilities for ourselves,” adds Sargent. “Many of the complex technology solutions and ecosystems require a team of collaborators with diverse skill sets. If we can figure out how to identify what we bring as our unique strength and have a personal career destination in mind, we can contribute in a meaningful way to a new wave of technical solutions based on our evolving skillsets. A pathway is wide open for any background to participate in a technology related career if that is what is desired.”

Business is global. What would you say to women about a career with worldwide opportunities?

“I was born overseas and have seen the channel from many points of view. What I gained from my experience at Intel’s headquarters in California and Portland, as well as a 15-year career in Asia, has been incredible,” says Stephanie Hallford, Vice President & General Manager, Business Client Platforms at Intel, who spent 2/3rd of her career working in Asia where much of the technology supply chain is centered. “If you have an opportunity to work overseas, grab it. You can only learn when you push out of your comfort zone. You will experience cultures as they really are and not shaped by your point of view. Everyone around you will also grow from the experience. We are a global community and we need more global citizens.”

Hallford adds that women are uniquely prepared to manage the fast pace of a technology career. “Technology is changing very quickly and affecting our lives in new ways, but women are born multi-taskers and can thrive in this setting. Women are quite comfortable with the speed, ambiguity, risk taking and integrated global nature of technology. There are a lot of examples where having women in leadership positions is advantageous because of these abilities and a natural capacity for problem-solving.”

How have women have changed sales in the technology industry?

“Women have changed the perception of what constitutes an effective salesperson. They tend to emphasize listening, relationship building, trust, collaboration, and empathy. That’s a winning combination in effective selling,” says Gina Merjanian, US Inside Sales GM at Intel. “I believe that women also bring a fresh perspective to IT sales with their unique point of view on different industries and approaches. Diversity is a very good thing for all businesses and industries. We’ve seen countless studies and research that proves the more diversity, the better the innovation, and therefore the results.”

How has COVID-19 Impacted the Channel?

Laura Barbaro, Managing Director, America’s IoT Sales and Marketing at Intel says there are exciting opportunities ahead for women in a post COVID-19 world. “There is no doubt that COVID-19 has been a life changer. It has changed the way we work, and it has changed the way our customers are working. The need to accelerate digital transformation became critical for business survival and many industries like healthcare, smart infrastructure, digital surveillance, security, transportation, logistics, and education are experiencing business pain points that need solutions now. We need to be ‘collaboration leaders’: Listening to pain points, collaborating with the ecosystem/multiple vendors in ways we have never done before but by building customer trust during these difficult times will build a strong foundation for future business.”

Merjanian adds: “COVID-19 has forever changed the way businesses operate. We are seeing a more rapid move towards automation and frictionless interactions. The era of digital transformation will be that much more accelerated as businesses lean in closer with technology leaders to help solve their problems and advance their businesses.”

“I talked earlier about the need for creativity to succeed in the IT channel and creativity is essential to connect in the virtual world companies have started to embrace. We are going to have to get creative in terms of how we engage and build relationships with our partners and how we connect with end user customers in a virtual world,” says Carlton.

COVID-19 is also impacting everyday lives, and if we are willing, Barbaro says it can present opportunities. “On a more personal note, people working from home are finding life “different”. Making a “stronger you” is more important than ever. You need to be able to create separation between work time and “you” time. Hit pause and appreciate the little things. Get into an exercise routine. Practice healthier eating patterns. Call a friend. Enjoy nature. Be grateful for good health, and thankful to first responders. Inspiring others is contagious!”

Congratulations to all the strong, inspiring women who are shaping the future of the Channel.

About the Author
Jason Kimrey is Vice President of US Channel and Partner Programs