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Channel Influencer Spotlight: Office Depot’s Janet Schijns

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**Editor’s Note: This is part of a series spotlighting our Channel Partners/Channel Futures Channel Influencers of the Year, selected by our editorial team for innovation in the “new channel.” (Read our profiles of Comcast Business’ Craig Schlagbaum, Forrester’s Jay McBain, TPx’s Hilary Gadda and 8×8’s John DeLozier.)**

By T.C. Doyle

After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in business and finance from Montclair State University in New Jersey, a young Janet Schijns landed a dream job with Garvin GuyButler, a New York money market and Eurodollar broker.

Schijns lasted just three days.

Verizon's Janet Schijns

Office Depot’s Janet Schijns

After rethinking her future with her parents, Schijns decided to try something else. She then caught a break in the fashion and beauty industry. Cosmair, the then-American holding company for well-known brands including L’Oreal, Maybelline, Redken and Helena Rubenstein, offered her a merchandising position.

For her first day in the office, Schijns chose a dark power suit comprised of pants and a matching jacket. Appalled by her sartorial choice, Schijns’ French boss pulled her aside and said, “If I called your mother and asked her what you were born, would she say a boy or a girl?”

“A girl,” Schijns replied.

“Then go home and dress like one,” her boss insisted.

Sexist? Schijns didn’t see it that way. She recognized the remark was meant to be empowering. Recalls Schijns, now one of the tech channel’s most successful and celebrated leaders, “It was a foundational moment for me. Imagine: There I was in my early 20s and this power woman just basically says ‘be you.’”

Since then Schijns has tried to follow the advice at every stage of her career — from junior manager to successful entrepreneur to technology channel chief and now to executive vice president at a tier-one national retailer.

If you’re not familiar with Schijns’ career, here’s a recap of it, and why it absolutely warrants inclusion on our list of 2018 Channel Influencers.

After trying her hand at different jobs in the New York area for almost a decade after graduation, Schijns created an independent consultancy, the JS Group, which provided coaching, talent development, sales training and more to high-tech companies. She became especially well-known for her work helping tech companies big and small improve their channel go-to-market strategies and execution.

After 17 years of running the JS Group, Schijns joined one of her clients, Motorola Enterprise Mobility Solutions, as vice president of global channels in September 2008. Two years later, she was named vice president of the business solutions group at Verizon Wireless. It was at Verizon where Schijns’ reputation was cemented. During her tenure, Verizon launched its first channel partner program, which attracted thousands of partners. While at Verizon, Schijns established herself as …

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