Channel Influencer Spotlight: Office Depot’s Janet Schijns

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… the one that led her to leave Verizon after seven years and join Office Depot. In her new role, Schijns is responsible for helping the publicly traded retail giant transform from a mere seller of office products into a provider of technology services that will be in high demand in the era of digital transformation. She’s literally tasked to make sure that everything the company sells, services and otherwise does is priced, productized and delivered in a way that gets partners and end users alike thinking differently about Office Depot.

Schijns joined the Florida-based, No. 281 on the 2018 Fortune 500 list of largest industrial companies, one year ago. She was recruited by tech veteran Gerry Smith, who previously helped Lenovo grow into the nation’s top supplier of Intel-based servers and PCs. Not long after she joined, Office Depot announced its blockbuster acquisition of IT services provider Compucom for roughly $1 billion. At the time, Smith said the deal represented a first step in branding the company as a “business services and technology products platform.”

In her first year at the company, Schijns has worked hard to build her team, hone a strategy and execute on deliverables. The work includes helping to transform Office Depot’s more than 1,400 retail locations into business centers that offer workspaces and services to business professionals and independent IT business consultants and telecom agents.

Need to reprint a lost business presentation in time for an important meeting? How about conference space to close an important customer sales call? Or maybe you simple need a handy place where you can repair a customer’s broken laptop or mobile device? Office Depot has you covered, Schijns says.

“We continue to disrupt the market with how we are thinking about our retail and digital footprint,” says Schijns.

As she sees it, Office Depot is the perfect complement for partners who have embraced a new mentality.

“I really believe everything-as-a-service is where we are going. And the channel has become the delivery mechanism for this phenomenon,” she says.

Beyond the Office

As Schijns has risen through the ranks of different organizations, she has taken a keen interest in promoting women and minorities whenever possible. When she learned years ago that women drop out of the technology industry at roughly five times the rate of men, she committed herself to keeping women in the industry, not just recruiting them to join.

Instead of dropping out, reach out, Schijns says.

To that end, she has tried to build diverse teams of workers when possible. At Office Depot, for example, she recruited a number of high-profile female executives. Schijns has also stepped up her work with organizations such as CompTIA and other industry and/or community organizations. This includes Tech World’s Half, a professional organization devoted to advancing the career interests in technology.

A co-founder of Tech World’s Half, Schijns is proud of the help that the organization provides. This includes efforts big and small. In front of peers and younger industry professionals, Schijns advises women to heed the advice she was given by her French boss at Comair: “Be yourself.” Another “Schijnsism” she shares openly is to stand tough when “the boys” are trying to bring you down.

“I learned very early on that if lick the roof of your mouth, you are physically unable to cry,” Schijns says.

This trick served her well, she says, in a male-dominated world at times when she felt lonely, bullied or just plain overwhelmed.

The messages have resonated far and wide. Rokeya Jones, a senior director with Microsoft’s Azure networking group, says Schijns’ contributions to promoting women and minorities are …

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