From Olympic Hopeful to Trusted Adviser: Meet Carrie Ferrero of Connected2Fiber

Carrie Ferrero never expected to start a career in telecom. But she's glad she did.

James Anderson, Senior News Editor

July 9, 2021

7 Min Read

No commodity in the channel matters more than trust, according to Carrie Ferrero of Connected2Fiber.

Ferrero, a sales engineering lead for Connected2Fiber and an Alliance of Channel Women board member, has worked hard to earn trust in her career. And as a woman in a male-dominated industry, it hasn’t come easily.


Connected2Fiber’s Carrie Ferrero

“There aren’t very many women that sit at the executive table. Each day you’re striving to learn more and earn your seat to make a difference in the industry, using your experience or using the knowledge base you have,” Ferrero said. “That struggle is significant for women in technology. It’s not easy to gain a seat at the table. To be heard or to drive a decision. You face that every day, and it’s real.”

But Ferrero has earned her seat at the table, and now she’s helping other women make that journey.

“It’s a difficult path, but it’s also an exciting path,” she told Channel Futures.

A Dramatic Pivot

She had never planned on a career in technology. Ferrero had been banking on her softball career, and for good reason. She had played well in college — well enough to earn a spot on the Olympic team.

“I had my life so figured out, but it usually never works out that way,” she said.

The injury bug hit her. Surgeries on her pitching arm forced her to find a new career.

See the other familiar faces on the Channel Partners Editorial and Business Advisory Boards.

She found her first job in telecommunications when a friend referred her. The prospective employer provided a quoting engine that automated pricing for carriers. Ferrero would ultimately work as an account manager. She figured the job might help her build a solid career, but the telecom aspect worried her.

To be fair, most people who enter the carrier services channel didn’t originally plan on that.

“Most people who fall into the channel do not fall into it through educating at college with how to buy and sell connectivity. It doesn’t work that way,” she said.

But Ferrero had special reason to doubt the opportunity; she didn’t know anything about technology.

“I hardly knew how to turn a computer on. I didn’t know what bandwidth meant. Literally, I did not know anything about technology. I was afraid of it. I was intimidated by it,” she said.

She would need to start from scratch. Her employer – still a small company at the time – didn’t provide any training materials she could use to familiarize herself with the industry. She would need to take a hands-on approach. Instead of learning from books and manuals, she would learn from people.

Ferrero started by listening to the seven colleagues that shared a room with her. She paid attention to what the developers said. She paid attention to what the CEO (and salesperson) said. Then she examined code and figured out how to break it down backward.

“I would listen to every single conversation I could, and I would just soak it in, and then I would go try it,” she said.

She loved the learning process.

“I felt like I was challenged every day,” she said. “Things were moving every day and changing, and I could solve problems and help people and make relationships and build trust.”

But she was still battling for a seat at the table.

A Breakthrough

She remembers when she knew that she possessed the skill set required to excel in the industry. A Tier 1 carrier had come to her company asking if it could help with a very complicated process. Ferrero brought the problem back to the developers to ask them what it would require and how much it would cost. But the developers told her it couldn’t be done.

Ferrero didn’t buy that.

“Well, anything can be done,” she said. “The question is, do you want to, what’s the cost of the resource, what are you going to charge for it and how long is it going to take?”

Although Ferrero didn’t know the answer to the carrier’s problem, she …

… certainly wasn’t going to say no. Her intuition told her that her team could complete this request.

“I remember going back to this customer and saying, ‘You know, I don’t have the answer today, but give me until tomorrow. I need to think on it,'” she said.

Ferrero returned home and woke up the next day with an idea. She presented her plan to the CEO, the president and the developer that had told her no.

They were impressed. She came back to the carrier with the cost and the timeline. Her company won the deal.

“That’s when I felt confidence in what I was thinking, my knowledge base and my ability to think outside the box and solve problems. I didn’t know everything, but I definitely built a confidence in what I did know,” she said.

A New Community

She ultimately moved into a role that supported the channel. By working to automate the buying process between vendors to partners, she glimpsed the many intricacies of our industry.

“I got really familiar with the channel, building relationships and picking apart every piece of the process and trying to understand what they went through every day,” she said.

As she started to interface with the channel more, Ferrero realized she was hitting a dead end in her job. She didn’t see how she could advance any further in her career.

Thus, she turned to the Alliance of Channel Women in an effort to find networking connections. But she encountered a very different opportunity. The Alliance asked her if she would like to take over their education committee. Ferrero agreed and found herself setting off on a new course. Now instead of trying to automate the channel, she was educating the channel.

“That took me on a different route. That took me into a really good position of supporting young women who wouldn’t normally know anything about the telecom industry, and empowering and inspiring them to find a career in the channel,” she said.

She worked with Theresa Caragol’s AchieveUnite consultancy to build a leadership program. As she designed the program, she felt that she needed to beta-test on herself. How else could she credibly recommend it to other women? So she tested the program in a move that is still paying dividends for her.

“It was life-changing. The program taught me how to understand my value in the industry. It taught me how to communicate and be emotionally intelligent. It taught me the importance of being an authentic leader versus trying to force-feed leadership or be a micromanager,” she said.

In addition, the program taught her how to negotiate as the only woman at the table.

“Especially being on the technology side, a lot of times it’s all men,” she said. “That’s hard and often an uncomfortable place to be in a very man-centric world.”

The Next Step

Emboldened and equipped by the training, she met with her employer to determine what opportunities still lay ahead of her at the company. She found her answer quickly enough; she needed to move on.

Ferrero moved to Connected2Fiber, which answers a similar problem as her previous employer. Ferrero said 25-30% of proposals never get serviced, either due to a lack of capacity, an acquisition or some unforeseen geographical detail. She said the channel has often struggled to deliver accurate quotes.

While her previous employer provided a complex quoting engine, she said Connected2Fiber serves an …… “ecosystem of buyers and sellers.”

“It starts anywhere from helping them plan and bring fiber data in front of [the customers], understanding their opportunities, the tenants in the building… bringing that level of visibility and ultimately producing a price for them,” she said.

Ferrero said she’s excited about the SaaS provider’s prospects. The company has caught the attention of investors, having recently wrapped $12 million in Series B financing.

Years after entering the telecom industry on a whim, Ferrero holds the respect of her peers. She has built relationships, and with those relationships she has built trust.


Those relationships came into play last year when Ferrero faced a tragedy. A car accident left her 19-year-old son with a traumatic brain injury and a desperate prognosis. His recovery would be slow, difficult and expensive. The channel rallied around her as her son clung to life support. From Alliance of Channel Women, to AchieveUnite to Connected2Fiber — everyone was there for her.

“They have been my rock through everything,” Ferrero said.

Years saying goodbye to her softball dream, Ferrero says she’s found something better. She still coaches softball, but she’s found passion and purpose in a career she never expected.

“I would never give up on where I am today. There’s nowhere I’m going; I’m in the channel for life. I love it,” she said.

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About the Author(s)

James Anderson

Senior News Editor, Channel Futures

James Anderson is a news editor for Channel Futures. He interned with Informa while working toward his degree in journalism from Arizona State University, then joined the company after graduating. He writes about SD-WAN, telecom and cablecos, technology services distributors and carriers. He has served as a moderator for multiple panels at Channel Partners events.

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