It’s been a long, yet incredible journey as I’ve transitioned into the channel manager that I am today. From pursuing an acting career, to meeting my supportive husband, to having my beautiful daughter; all of these milestones have helped me develop into a successful woman leader within a mostly male-dominated sales environment. Key women leaders throughout my professional career further solidified a strong foundation for success, and my authentic sense of equality and confidence continue to empower and inspire me, enabling me to thrive within a male-dominated industry.
One of the most truly empowering moments of my career remains crystal clear in my memory. At the time, I hadn’t even considered pursuing a management career; the thought just hadn’t occurred to me. Fortunately, my former regional vice president, Fortunata Hermoso, was a powerful advocate for, and a huge proponent of, women leaders within AT&T’s male-dominated environment—and she noticed me. She pulled me aside and told me clearly and firmly that I already had the skills, knowledge, and trust from my peers to become a successful leader. I hope women leaders everywhere understand how much a simple interaction like that can impact a woman’s life. It certainly affected mine and helped to mold me into the confident woman leader I am today. Pass it on, ladies!
Another inspirational woman leader who significantly impacted my career was Patty, my manager at AT&T. I am still motivated each morning by the memory of her strong work ethic, positive outlook, and ability to show up every day fully dedicated to succeeding—with a smile on her face. Patty consistently praised my strengths and politely offered guidance on areas that could use improvement. Most importantly, I really trusted her judgment. To this day, I believe that trust is absolutely essential to have in the workplace—for a professional relationship, especially one of the mentor-mentee variety, cannot exist without it.
The confidence I developed over the course of my career enabled me to take a major leap out of my comfort zone. Five years ago, I moved from retail into business sales at RingCentral. To my delight, my new manager, Jenny Dingus, became yet another powerful female mentor who fostered my success and further developed my leadership skills. Jenny exudes confidence in all settings and types of situations. RingCentral has pulled her in a lot of different directions, and watching her handle these challenges with grace has really motivated me. She is a valuable resource and extremely knowledgeable. Jenny always seems to have the right answer, and if she doesn’t know something, she knows exactly where to find it. She has helped me immensely with my critical thinking skills, and one of the best takeaways? Knowledge yields confidence, and confidence yields success.
The inspirational women leaders I’ve met throughout my career helped me to realize my potential by leading with sustained focus, a drive for success, integrity, compassion, and genuine selflessness. Their belief in me, wisdom, and guidance built a strong foundation for the female sales leader that I am today. I am grateful and overjoyed to be a member of the Alliance of Channel Women; I hope to pass the same empowerment and inspiration on to other members. Thank you for letting me share my story!
Erika Schmidt is a channel manager at RingCentral where she serves as an internal channel advocate to ensure partner business development and customer satisfaction. Erika lives in San Jose, California, with her husband, Jeff, and three-year-old daughter, Madison. Erika loves enjoying the outdoors with her family, particularly at Lake Tahoe.