October 30, 2023
CHANNEL FUTURES LEADERSHIP SUMMIT — The Channel Futures Women’s Leadership Summit kicked off on Monday with a pair of presentations that dealt with different topics but emphasized the same theme: female empowerment.
No longer newcomers to the business world in general and the telecom and tech channel in particular, women are finding their footing and, most importantly, finding their voices. Speakers addressed challenges such as overcoming impostor syndrome, combatting fear of failure and not only making space for themselves at the at the table, but making it clear what they’re bringing to that table.
Women's Leadership Summit: Making a Difference
During “From Influence to Inspiration: Women Channel Influencers Making a Difference,” Omdia’s Debbie Kane moderated a panel of women (pictured) who have been recognized as a Channel Futures Channel Influencers — Coro’s Hilary Gadda, Five9’s Kelli Ballou-McMillan and Xcitium’s MeiLee Langley. The discussion focused on the importance of mentorship, being open to opportunities and finding a work/life balance. With a uniquely female perspective on leadership positions and what it takes to ascend to one, the panel found a common voice in underscoring the importance of using their influence to enable women coming up through the ranks.
“Find your tribe,” said Ballou-McMillan. The population of that tribe may change from time to time, but it should consist of “like-minded people who have your back,” she said. They have your back and you have theirs. You have your mentors and you return the favor by mentoring others.
Gadda expanded on that by recommending having a business coach. (She added a shout-out to Bluewave Technology Group’s Curt Allen who has been hers.) A business coach provides a different perspective, different motivation from a mentor. Their focus is on decision-making, not personal development.
Support from mentors and coaches is great, said Langley, but it can only enhance, not replace, personal motivation. “You have to be your own champion,” she said. “Don’t be afraid to ask for what you think you deserve.”
Leadership Is a Relationship
A uniquely female perspective also directed the conversation during “Leading Your Partner Ecosystem to New Heights.” Informa Tech’s Kelly Danziger led the discussion with Check Point’s Cindi Carter and Vonage’s Alyse Brady.
“Women have long been criticized for being too sensitive,” said Brady. “But the new style of leadership involves collaboration and relationships, and sensitivity is essential for that.”
In discussing their personal channel leadership styles, both Brady and Carter ranked honesty as their No. 1 priority. Without honesty, there is no trust, and “If you don’t have trust, you have nothing,” said Carter.
And relationships, they said, must be collaborative and supportive. “Be present,” said Carter.
Acknowledging that channel leadership can complicate maintaining a life-work balance, Brady said that on a daily basis she writes what she needs to get done and her schedule for doing it.
Carter had a similar perspective on the issue, saying that navigating a career is like running a business and “You are the CEO of your own career.”
The message is clear. As the style of leadership changes, it must be flexible, fluid and inclusive. To fully embrace the changing technologies, priorities and demographics of the channel, it must take full advantage of the unique talents and characteristics that women bring to the mix.
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