CHANNEL PARTNERS More than 100 women attended the inaugural Women in the Channel Workshop Saturday night in concert with the Channel Partners Conference & Expo, which is being held in Las Vegas, March 13-15.
The event, sponsored by PAETEC, Telecom Brokerage Inc. (TBI), Intelisys and Windstream Corp., was the result of a grassroots effort by women in the telecom channel seeking a forum through which they could find collaboration and support.
Nancy Ridge, vice president of Telcombrokers Inc., a master agency in California, was one of the events organizers. Her impetus for driving the meeting, she said, was in part due to declining interest among women in joining the technology space and how could women come together to collaborate and to mentor others interested in the field.
Among the attendees who responded to text-based polls about half described themselves as channel partners (agents/VARs) and half worked in the channel organizations of vendors (carriers/manufacturers). A majority (78 percent) said they were in sales-related roles. Just less than half (44 percent) of respondents said they were working as directors or managers while a much smaller percentage (12 percent) said they held executive roles. Twenty-three percent of respondents were owners or partners.
Interestingly, only 21 percent of respondents said one of their goals of participation in the workshop was to find guidance in moving into management roles while 38 percent said they were interested in owning their own companies. More 81 percent of respondents came seeking support in areas such as stress management, health and work-life balance.
Keynote speaker Kimber Lim, best-selling author and business coach, told attendees that there are women out there like them that they can count on, that they dont need to do it all alone.
Women leaders in the channel Ridge, as well as Donna Wenk, senior vice president at PAETEC; Amy Burke-Freeman, owner of Global Communications; and Laura Bernstein, president of CRA Inc. shared their experiences about being women in the telecom industry. The consensus was that it was a lonely” endeavor.
Participant Karin Fields of master agency MicroCorp., said she came to the event in part because she is tired of being often the only woman in the room.
The women resolved to work on mentoring programs for younger women and to reconvene online in the Women in Channel LinkedIn group, on conference calls and also at the Channel Partners Conference & Expo, Aug. 24-26, in Chicago.