CRN's annual Women of the Channel report selects "the female channel executives from solution providers and vendors that carry the most clout." This year’s clout-worthy Most influential Women Of The Channel lists (part 1 and part 2) included five female executives from Cisco:
- Dawn Duross, Director, Public Sector Partner Organization
- Julie Hens, VP, US and Canada Distribution
- Luanne Tierney, Vice President, WW Partner Marketing
- Maryann Von Seggern, Director of World Wide Channels Development for Cisco Capital
- Wendy Bahr, Senior Vice President, Global and Transformational Partnerships
The first thing we decided to do when we heard the news was to try to schedule time to sit down with all five execs in a super-powered TelePresence session. But we soon realized that getting five busy executives in one session would prove more difficult than we had imagined!
So we sat down with Maryann and Dawn via TelePresence and talked about how they first started working in the channel, advice for those just starting out, and defining moments from their successful careers. (Read the other interviews after the jump.)
We caught up with Wendy Bahr and Julie Hens on the phone to get the low-down on their careers and lessons learned. (Luanne was taking a well-deserved vacation.)
Wendy's career path began like many others in her field: as individual contributor. She then became a first-line manager, and then moved up to director positions. She first got involved in Channels as a director with Cisco on the direct sales side when she was given an opportunity to interview for the VP of Commercial Channels, which was a newly created role.
"While I had not previously worked in the channel," said Wendy, "my instincts suggested exposure to the channel would grow me personally and professionally. I have really benefited from taking a path outside of the direct sales function and I believe the experience has increased my value to both Cisco and myself."
She recalls one of the defining moments of her career and a day when she learned an important lesson. Her boss was being promoted to a new role in a separate division and identified one of Wendy's peers to backfill for him. But she asked the hiring executive who was responsible for filling the position if there was an opportunity to interview. The exec said yes. You can probably guess that Wendy was hired as her boss's backfill. "It taught me that you should always ask and go after what you want in life," she recalls.
Julie remembers the defining moment of her career when she was asked to take on a true "turn-around" situation, assuming responsibility for the worst-performing branch of the company she was working with at the time. The first two VP/GMs had been fired and she took on the challenge of cutting costs, increasing sales and stopping the bleeding. While addressing these operational metrics, Julie realized that the key to her success would be to build a high-performance team.
"Once I put together the dream team, we turned into the number-one performing branch for two years in a row," said Julie. "It really is the power of the team that you can build that makes a difference."
Julie says she always goes back to that moment: that the best thing she can do when running a business or a department is to bring together best people.
In terms of her advice for women just starting out, Julie says that building a network and relationships across functions in the company is key to success. "Extend your reach across and beyond your organization and develop relationships to grow and learn," she advises mentees. "Establish partnerships and be sure to include new people in the company in your network."
Congratulations to all of the CRN award winners. (Read part one in this series for additional inspiration.)
And, be sure to share your career secrets and defining moments in the comments!