Dell EMC’s Cheryl Cook: Channel Challenge Accepted

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… competitive and had a knack for math and science. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in computer science, one of the few women in her class in the early 1980s.

“I was always stimulated by a challenge, and I liked problem solving and building new teams,” she said. “Pretty quickly it became evident, although I might not have been aware early on, that those were my strengths.”

Cook says she escaped many of the negative experiences that women in male-dominated fields still experience. In fact, she said she was fortunate to have some “pretty fair” bosses who put her in results-oriented positions and judged based on outcomes. “Results matter,” she said.

Indeed. It also helps to be a collaborator and a communicator and willing to advocate for yourself and your staff.

“You have to be able to stand up for yourself — not in a confrontational or adversarial way, but in a confident way,” Cook said. “It was always about the team.”

For a number of years, Cook’s been using those talents to advance women in technology and the next generation of workers. She’s a leader in the Dell Women in Action group and a new Dell EMC Women’s Partner Network and an active member of the Dell Women’s Entrepreneurial Network, which is spearheaded by Karen Quintos, executive vice president and chief customer officer at Dell.

Cook was fortunate enough to be mentored along her career journey and so is now giving back. She speaks both to groups within the Dell organization and externally, pulling together women as she travels the globe for work, which is about 60 percent of the time.

“There’s networking, mentoring and career coaching — helping younger girls, career women, as well as people early in their career,” she said. “I’m motivated by making sure that you’re giving back as much as you’re getting.”

When it comes to young women and STEM, there’s work to do to make a technology career more relevant as opposed to, say, medicine. That means doing a better job educating young women about how technology drives business outcomes, particularly in vertical industries, where they can identify real-world positive outcomes for people.

And, we must continue to get inspired by other people’s stories.

“There are amazing, bright and capable women in this industry and it’s all about connecting to one another and helping others,” Cook said.

There are articles galore about the dearth of women candidates for IT jobs, and an equal number about the inability to retain female talent. Cook sees that reality: Finding female candidates is difficult. Senior women must be active in advocating for the channel, and the tech sector as a whole.

“I think we have a shared responsibility — along with all my male colleagues — to do our very best to …

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