A Journey to the Channel

Aug 30, 2021

My career in sales came about quite by accident after I decided not to pursue my lifelong dream of going to law school. Sales paid the bills, but I wasn’t sure it was for me. After more than 10 years of business-to-consumer sales, I was unenthused and wiped out. And I came to a crossroads in my life. I had gotten extremely ill and could not work at the same time I was going through a divorce and raising a small a child in elementary school. I decided to give up on sales.

However, a wise family member advised me to change my industry rather than my sales career. He introduced me to the endless opportunities in the telecom and IT channel. I never thought I’d be qualified to work in technology, but he showed me how my talents were transferrable. I will forever be grateful for his push.

As a result of his advice, I wound up at a technology company focused on communications solutions, and it has proved to be a tremendous fit for me. When I started four years ago, I was very green, and it was very uncomfortable for me. I was not used to knowing the least amount of information in the room. I had to break out of my introverted ways and not only make relationships with brilliant experts, but I also had to try to identify my niche.

In any industry there will be situations that feel more daunting than others. However, my recommendation to anyone new to the channel is to join as an avid student and never lose that mindset. Always drive for more information and don’t be afraid to identify problems or promote a solution.  Give yourself grace as you become an expert and make sure you set realistic time frames for this accomplishment. While you develop that expertise, don’t be afraid to start taking actions with the information you do know. Be bold!

I would give credit to many for bringing out the boldness in me, including my family, coaches, managers and faith leaders. However, my biggest influence is my mom, who has met many adversities with fierce pushback and lived a life of leadership with high emotional intelligence. It was with her support that I faced the heartbreak of setting aside my lifelong goal of becoming an attorney and managed to keep going until I found my sweet spot. Because I followed that path, I’m here and couldn’t be better placed.

Now, I strive to be for others what so many have been for me – an example and inspiration. I was reminded of the importance of that earlier this year when I got feedback from an early career employee, also a woman of color, who I had the pleasure of interviewing in 2019 on an interview panel. She shared with me the impact my position on her panel had on her. She said seeing a woman, particularly a woman of color, in a leadership role was encouraging. She said it became a significant part of her decision to accept the position.

I joined Alliance of Channel Women because it was magnetizing. As a woman in a male-dominated industry, it’s invaluable to be able to receive from and contribute to such an impressive community of women. I am excited to see what the future holds.

About the Author
Jasmine Williams started her career in the channel in 2017. Having managed several teams with her out-of-the-box approach, she is now a Partner Development Manager at Avaya, focused on improving the agent experience as they assist clients migrating to cloud-based communications.