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Collaboration Works for Women in the Channel

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Nancy RidgeBy Nancy Ridge, Vice President, Telcombrokers

As the fledgling Women in the Channel group prepares to come together a second time at the Channel Partners Conference & Expo in Chicago, Aug. 24-26, we have a lot of work still ahead of us but a great deal to celebrate.

Since the inaugural meeting in Las Vegas in March much has happened. A follow-up conference call immediately after the show between the group founders including myself, Karin Fields and Stacy Conrad of Microcorp, Laura Bernstein of CRA, our mentor Kimber Lim of Get Your Woman On! and our Channel Partners supporters Khali Henderson and Larry Lannon (yes, a man!) created a roadmap for truly establishing the group. It became clear that the objective was to build on the foundational collaborative spirit through connecting and to have the structure of the group be a manifestation of that spirit. That means monthly or bimonthly conference calls on topics that address the group’s areas of focus, creating a website with lots of goodies for our members, continuing to interface via LinkedIn, planning local chapters, connecting with other women in technology groups and promising to meet twice a year at the Channel Partners conferences.

We have begun to articulate our purpose, which has three areas of focus:

1. Collaboration through identity and relationships (better than networking) to grow our businesses

The emergence of outsourcing as a leading business strategy means businesses more than ever are looking to trusted advisers to help them sort out what IT needs they can meet in-house vs. outsourcing. Women are excellent at listening and gathering resources to answer those questions. As our industry shifts to true convergence utilizing multiple providers crossing the old traditional network vs. hardware vs. software lines, women are uniquely positioned to use our collaborative instincts to discover and implement the new changes. Taking a leadership role in pioneering these solutions will help women advance their own businesses or be recognized for advancement within the corporate structure.         

2. Support for each other as women

Many women are juggling work and home duties more than ever. Our members speak of being the main breadwinner in their families; many are single mothers, others are taking care of elderly parents, and the majority has kids to raise. One thing we all agree on, we tend to put ourselves last on the list for rest, nurture and anything else. Yet, we love the many hats we wear and see opportunities as never before. In order to take advantage of these opportunities, we will need to support each other … asking for help and sharing what works and what doesn’t.

3. Mentoring

Statistics from numerous sources point to declining numbers of women in the IT and technical fields. We can all attest to the lopsidedness of gender in our business meetings, at our conferences and certainly at the ownership/board levels. Querying young women, we find out they simply don’t know about the rewards – professionally, personally and financially – of pursuing a career in the telecom channel. As Women in the Channel, we intend to create a forum for reaching out to inform young women and girls of the possibilities that exist in our industry. Getting the word out that our inherent gifts as women can be used in beautiful, creative and caring ways to help others grow their businesses, solve their problems and use technology to realize their own dreams and intentions.                          

Tired of the old hierarchy, we have chosen to structure our group by creating committees with specific service commitments rather than a board. We see this structure as a working example of how collaboration can function and deliver results that reflect the overall group vision. Other benefits include rotation of committee members to avoid burn out and the old paradigm of one or two people doing all the work for a group. We think this structure will keep us fresh and enthusiastic. So far, this structure has created amazing results as well as establishing new relationships and strengthening existing ones. In addition to the founders mentioned above, some of our early leaders are (in no particular order):

  • Hilary Gadda, TelePacific
  • Bita Milanian, Marketing Communications
  • Anne Stone, Verio
  • Erica Edhouse, GST
  • Anne Brogan, Nitel
  • Sandy Butler-Buchanon, ACC Business
  • Tara Winslow, PGi  
  • Jennifer Gallego, Avant Communications
  • Michelle Kadlacek, Windstream
  • Betsy Wells, Ready Talk
  • Kathleen Thaxton, Hosting.com
  • Kathy Spradling, DP Sciences

All of these amazing women have given tremendously of their time, their talent and in some cases their resources to establish and grow this group. The fun we’re having and relationships we’re creating in the process are amazing. Come join us at the two special sessions our wonderful supporters Khali Henderson and Larry Lannon at Channel Partners have slotted for us in Chicago:

And thanks to the companies on the forefront who see the value of our industry’s’ top women collaborating together to make our channel stronger and better – our sponsors in Chicago including TelePacific, ACC Business and AT&T.

See you in Chicago!

NOTE: If you can’t make it to the show, check us out on LinkedIn (Women in the Channel) and visit our website, www.womeninthechannel.com.)

Since 2005, Nancy Ridge has been vice president for master agency Telcombrokers where she has focused on relationship building and process automation to drive growth of more than 300 percent. Previously Nancy was vice president of sales for ATI, where she was responsible for creating and managing the indirect sales channel.  Prior to that Ridge was a vice president for a consulting firm that pioneered the TEM concept and also was a principal in a demand-side energy service company for 10 years. She also is a member of the 2010-11 Channel Partners  Advisory Board .

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