Zina Hassel, founder and president of ZLH Enterprises, was one of three women to receive the 2019 Alliance of Channel Women LEAD Award recognizing exceptional female leaders in the tech channel. ACW LEAD Award winners were honored at a ceremony during the Alliance of Channel Women ACWConnectLive! Networking Event on Sept. 9, in Washington D.C. during Channel Partners Evolution.
“The LEAD Award is an honor given to women in tech who have demonstrated exceptional leadership and innovation in the channel,” said ACW Board Member Michelle Kadlacek, Chair of the Awards Committee and Vice President, Enterprise Channel Partner Program at Spectrum Enterprise. “Zina stands out as a leader in the channel and ACW recognizes her efforts with this award.”
Hassel built ZLH Enterprises from the ground up, advising and assisting small and medium business (SMB) and enterprise customers with navigating technology change and disruption. Today the company is a thriving consultancy that specializes in connectivity, VoIP, security, cloud computing, data center and AI solution evaluation, development and implementation. Hassel holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Management from Binghamton University and a master’s degree in Business Administration in Health Care from Baruch College.
ACW interviewed Hassel about the past, present and future of women in leadership.
Who is the woman who showed you how to lead the way (e.g., your role model)?
When I first began my professional career it was in health care administration (another male-dominated field) and my coach was my immediate supervisor. She was a wonderful individual who taught me how to navigate in very choppy waters and how to avoid taking “no” as an answer. Together we were able to make strides for our health care facility, including the purchase of one of the first PBX systems for the state of New York back in (dare I say) the 1970s. That was my first experience with communications technology.
What are you doing to lead the way for other women in the tech channel today?
I attend as many events as time permits and have met several women and young ladies that call or e-mail for feedback or guidance on a range of issues. I’m also a mentor for one of my alma maters, Zicklin graduate school in New York City, and I’m currently mentoring a young woman transitioning from finance to technology. I’ve been involved with a high school STEM panel in New Jersey and hope to do more of that to influence young women as they pursue coursework and prepare for a career. I also correspond frequently with past and present women clients. ZLH Enterprises is a woman-owned business and my daughter is intimately involved in the organization. I would like to think that she is a product of my mentorship in technology as well.
What is one thing we could accomplish that would most benefit women in the tech channel going forward?
Never give up and believe in yourself! I can’t count on my fingers and toes the number of times that my comments or I have been ignored because of my gender. Here’s a sad but true story: When my first male hire accompanied me to a meeting, a supplier rep who was trying to vie for our business, directed all comments to my male subordinate, until he pointed out that he was not the decision maker. Those scenarios need to become a thing of the past where it’s not assumed that a woman cannot lead.
In addition, we need to all be friendly competitors and help one another when possible. Every day may be filled with new challenges for you to overcome that can renew faith in yourself and your abilities. Don’t let those challenges deter you from also helping other women in tech that may not yet have your stamina, self-determination or self-esteem.