Beyond the Board: A Conversation with ACW Leader Maureen O’Connell

Apr 17, 2024

Editor’s Note: The Alliance of Channel Women (ACW) has unveiled a fresh initiative called “Beyond the Board: Conversations with ACW Leaders,” which delves deeper into the personal and professional lives of ACW Board Members beyond their official capacities within the organization. Through intimate one-on-one interviews conducted by ACW’s Communications Committee members, these leaders share their channel experiences, insights and valuable lessons learned along their career paths. The following interview features ACW Communications Committee Member Danielle Pierre’s interview with ACW Board Member Maureen O’Connell, Senior Director of Global Partner Sales at Comcast Business.

By Danielle Pierre

Maureen O’Connell is the Senior Director of Global Partner Sales at Comcast Business. She manages the Comcast Business strategy with top strategic partners and international channel strategy. Having started her career as an Account Manager with Verizon Business, she has more than 19 years of sales management experience in the telecom industry. After three years with Verizon, Maureen moved into her first indirect role as a Channel Manager at NetCarrier, a Philadelphia-based CLEC. During her four-year tenure at NetCarrier, she helped build their channel from scratch and was named a Top 15 Channel Manager of the Year in 2011 by Channel Partners Magazine. For the past 13 years, Maureen has had a successful career with Comcast Business. She started her Comcast Business career as a direct Sales Supervisor and later transitioned to the indirect Comcast Business Solutions Provider Program as the Partner Sales Manager for the Greater Philadelphia area. In 2019, Maureen was promoted to a Partner Sales Director role overseeing a team in the Northeast. In 2022, Maureen was promoted to her current role as Senior Director of Partner Sales. Maureen has received many awards and accolades at Comcast Business, and within the industry.

Maureen, I’m so excited to talk to you. You inspire women in the channel, and many aspire to follow your path. Tell us more about you — what do you do at the Alliance of Channel Women?

Hi, I’m so happy to be a part of this conversation! I’m the Senior Director of Global Partner Sales at Comcast Business, focused on our strategic partners in the U.S. and channel strategy for EMEA. I have worked in the technology industry for 20 years — 15 of which have been spent in the channel. I’ve been at Comcast Business for 13 years now. Aside from being on the Board of Directors for ACW, I’m also the Chair of the Local Chapters Committee. Local chapters are critical to the success of ACW as we focus on building our brand and network of members in regions throughout the U.S.

What have been the keys to your success?

I could take the easy route here and say my success is based on the relationships that I have built over time, which have been significant. However, I’m going to go with a different answer here. I had a quarterly review with my boss the other day and he told me that I’m unflappable. I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately, and I agree that it’s a trait of mine that has served me well over time. In our industry, there is always change, always a fire drill, always something that can easily disrupt your entire day, week or even year if you let it. It’s easier said than done, but remember, if you are gone tomorrow, the business will still go on. Don’t let the crisis situation keep you from focusing on your personal goals.

So, Maureen, you’re a woman in the channel without children, but you have so much on your plate — from being a Senior Director at Comcast Business to being a board member of Alliance of Channel Women. How do you juggle it all?

I just recently watched Courtney and Brittany’s interview and loved everything about it as it sheds light on the struggles of work-life balance for a working mom. I love, however, that you just asked me what it’s like to have work-life balance for women who have no children.

A personal story here — I’m not childless by choice. In fact, I struggled with infertility and multiple miscarriages for over five years. Every time I had a setback in my journey, I dove deeper and deeper into work, which became very unhealthy as I didn’t allow myself time to grieve. I’m now five years past the point where my husband and I decided that God’s plan for us was to be the greatest aunt and uncle on Earth to our nieces and nephews.

Over the last five years, I’ve learned that it is OK to say, “No,” and set boundaries. I’m still extremely guilty and have been reminded by my peers that I don’t have to take on everyone else’s problems, but I try to make a conscious decision on what projects I do and do not take on. A big part of that decision-making process is what impact I will make. ACW, for example, is an important part of my juggling act as I know that my actions will make an immediate impact on women in technology.

Have you faced any challenges in your career because you’re childless, and how did you overcome them?

I think any of my peers in this industry who are childless (both women and men), or better yet, have children who are raised and out of the house, will face this challenge. First, there is the, “Well, so and so doesn’t have to worry about kids at home, so they should be available for that trip,” or “So and so probably has time on their hands, so let’s ask them to take on a project.” So, back to my boundaries comment, I have learned over time that it’s OK to say, “No.”

I also have adopted the mindset of not feeling guilty if I need to go run a few errands during the workday. Rightfully so, many of my peers in this industry check out to go to school shows, bus stop pick-ups, etc., so there should be no reason for me to feel guilty about being offline for an hour during the workday if needed. I think being in a WFH environment during COVID has really helped relax the typical 9-to-5 day in a very positive way for all.

Lastly, what advice would you give to someone who is looking to move up in their career in the channel?

First, advocate for yourself! There’s no one that’s going to be more vocal about your success than yourself. Organizations like CRN are constantly looking for nominations for the awards that they publish, such as Women of the Channel. Don’t be bashful — nominate yourself!

Second, build a strong network! ACW and our local chapters are an easy avenue for you to build a circle of trust with like-minded women in our community.

Finally, be your authentic self! I mentioned earlier that relationships have been part of my success, but I truly do not believe I would have built those relationships if I wasn’t authentic with the people that I met. I get teased at times that my “Philly side” has come out in conversation, but I don’t take that as a bad thing as I know I’m being very transparent with the people I’m with.

About the Author

Danielle Pierre has extensive experience in channel, field and partner marketing and currently works as the Partner Marketing Programs Manager at Hitachi Vantara.