A Survival Guide for Women in the Channel

With Rebecca Leach, Director of Partner Led Programs and National Direct Integrator Partners, Cisco Canada

“Women in Channel – A Survival Guide” is the name of a workshop given by Rebecca Leach and myself at the Computer Dealer News’ “Women in the IT Channel” recognition event. The main focus of the workshop was to discuss credibility and influence for women working in what is pretty much a man’s world – Information Technology.

Rebecca and I sat down to discuss the workshop, being a leader and what the most important factors for success are for women in technology. And if you’re interested, we’ve included our complete survival guide below.

Trina Alexson: Rebecca, during the workshop you focused on influence while I focused on credibility. One characteristic showed up in both of our presentations, and that was the importance of being courageous…

Rebecca Leach: You might want to add, “be right”. I think we both emphasized the importance for leaders to have a strong foundation based on facts, not opinions and beliefs. The facts are a foundation for change. And change is where courage comes in. It is easy to keep status quo, but our industry is changing too fast for that. It is healthy for our business to challenge and promote change.

TA: When I think of courage I also think of mental toughness. I like that old saying, “when going gets tough, the tough gets going.” One thing I shared at the workshop is that I think of myself as pretty emotional person, but when it’s needed my analytical side kicks in. Maybe it is the engineer in me.

We asked the participants in our workshop to review news articles that documented the real life challenges women in IT were experiencing. They then responded with their thoughts and insights. What did you learn from the attendees?

RL: I was really impressed by the read-outs of the workshop. First and foremost, I learned that there is no single correct answer to any tough situation. Following that, I was impressed at how much good advice there is out there! We need to continue to connect, support each other and provide peer-mentoring opportunities so we can make the most of our collective intelligence on these issues.

TA:  The key to the “Survival Guide” is each other! I like that. Now for those of you that couldn’t attend our workshop, here is our complete survival guide for women in the channel:

A Survival Guide for Women in the Channel

The tips to help you survive, and thrive, in the technology industry.

Rebecca’s Rules for Influencing

-Have integrity and be honest

-Nurture your Network

-Maintain Consistency & Emotional Balance

-Don’t be Afraid (to fail) – Read “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” by Sheryl Sandberg

-Be a Catalyst & Take Calculated Risks – Challenge male (and female) peers and leaders

-Don’t Gossip (rise above)

-Mentor Others & Have a Mentor

Trina’s Rules for Credibility

-Be Courageous – don’t run when times are tough.

-Be Calm – especially when you are a leader. Your people are watching you and even in difficult situations, if leaders stay calm so do their employees. People want to work with HOPE not despair.

-Be Heard – Speak up! During times of trouble people often talk about the “leadership vacuum”. Problems are opportunities in disguise for leaders to shine.

-Be Right – NOT RIGHTEOUS!!! Know your stuff.

-Be There – when times are tough, be visible! Don’t ask your team to do things you would not do yourself. Bring dinner. Be on-line. Work as hard as anyone else involved in the situation.

What do you think of our channel survival guide?  Do you have any tips to add to our list?

About Trina Alexson

Trina Alexson is the head of Advanced Services for the Service Provider Segment at Cisco Canada. In her role, she leads engineering teams that work directly with Cisco Service Provider customers to help them plan, build and operate their networks. Trina has over 25 years experience in the information technology industry and has been with Cisco since 1996. Prior to her role in the services organization she led software development teams responsible for high availability features in Cisco’s premier routing platforms. She holds a Bachelor of Engineering degree from Memorial University of Newfoundland and an MBA from Richard Ivey School of Business, University of Western Ontario. Trina Alexson est la responsable des services avancés offerts au segment des fournisseurs de services chez Cisco Canada. Dans le cadre de ses fonctions, elle dirige les équipes d'ingénierie qui travaillent directement avec les clients prestataires de services afin de les aider à planifier, à créer et à exploiter leurs réseaux. Forte d'une expérience de plus de 25 ans dans le secteur des technologies de l'information, Trina œuvre chez Cisco depuis 1996. Avant d'occuper son poste dans le domaine de l'organisation des services, elle dirigeait les équipes de conception de logiciels responsables des fonctions à disponibilité élevée dans les plateformes de routage de premier ordre de Cisco. Trina détient un baccalauréat en ingénierie de la Memorial University of Newfoundland ainsi qu'un MBA de la Richard Ivey School of Business de la University of Western Ontario.
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