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Channel Influencer Spotlight: Office Depot’s Janet Schijns

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… impossible to underestimate.

“Imagine a small child stuck outside in the rain because no one in the neighborhood would open their front door to let her in,” says Jones. “Despite repeated attempts to beg and plea for entry, she is ignored for days and the rain just keeps falling until one day a new family moves in!”

For Jones, Schijns represented that “professional” family.

“I was running out of patience and starting to doubt my own ability to influence. She quickly embraced my skill set and allowed me to shadow her in executive discussions, providing me with hope again that I too could achieve and walk in her footsteps. She not only became my first female executive adviser, but she without hesitation became my executive sponsor, which provided me with opportunities and exposure to her network, leading to us becoming founders of Tech World’s Half, which I am forever grateful and will always support,” adds Jones.

Another industry professional who has worked with Schijns is Jo Peterson, vice president of cloud services at Clarify360. Peterson says Schijns has served as a mentor to her — and then some.

“What’s amazing to me about Janet is that she could easily say that there wasn’t time in her schedule for mentoring, yet she has been gracious enough to make time. The thing that strikes me most is that mentoring is an act of kindness and this act speaks less about me and more about her character,” says Peterson.

Lessons Learned

When asked what qualities she thinks have made her a success, Schijns looks beyond tenacity, bravado and more of the more visible things she is known for. She says family ties helped her as much as anything, especially at the beginning of her career when she voluntarily left two outwardly desirable jobs. She also thinks flexibility and risk-taking are underappreciated attributes that can propel one’s career. Take her move from the New York area to south Florida. It was not only a cultural change for her, but a serious atmospheric one as well.

“I’ve discovered that although I do really love summer, it is really hot here,” she says in jest.

Jokes aside, the physical moves she has made for various jobs have deepened her long-term business relationships while broadening her cultural understanding. The former have been strengthened by the strain of distance, while the latter has been expanded by exposure to new things.

While she is completely consumed by the work she is doing today, she does muse about what lies ahead. If and when the moment arises, she says she would love to serve in an executive role at a nonprofit.

“I’ve made a living making speeches. I think I’m pretty good at making plans and convincing people, and I would love to have an opportunity, in the future, to give back,” she says.

If not that, then maybe a Disney princess. She’s already in Florida, after all.

“All kidding aside, if there’s a job that lets you live in Cinderella’s castle in Disney World, then I’m in,” she says.

Mickey could only be so lucky.

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