By Gina Kennedy, Vice President-MarketingFusion
I’ve been in the channel business for a long time. A REALLY long time. Let’s be honest, this industry, like most, has had its share of good times and of course, challenging times.
I have to take a trip down memory lane. Bear with me as I reminisce. Do you remember when money was free flowing for wining, dining and entertaining? When companies would spend $100K to sponsor an event; including celebrity entertainment? What about the parties? The lively business discussions, the laughter, the mingling, the feeling you had when you were around people who “got it”; people who understood what it was like to be in this business?
Then…there was the other side. The side no one really discussed until Women in the Channel came to be. These were the challenging times. Some, I have lived personally, and some, I’ve only heard about and witnessed from afar.
You see, during all of these “good times” there was still a struggle for women in this industry to fit in; to be taken seriously for what we could contribute in terms of KNOWLEDGE. Industry knowledge, leadership knowledge, technical knowledge, sales knowledge. Yet, some continued to insist we, as women were only useful to “open the doors” so the “A” team could walk through and do the “real work.” Hell… not only did many men feel that way, some women even believed it themselves.
And those parties? Those fabulous events? Yes, there was laughter, there was a feeling of kinship but there was also a feeling of… do I belong here? Where do I fit in? Should I be one of the guys and laugh off each offensive thing that I see or hear? Will I be considered weak if I ask the wrong question to an “A” team member? If I should dare to “climb the ladder” and succeed, will some respond snidely that it was ONLY because I was a woman?
Then, just in time… WiC was formed. I came to the meetings, but didn’t officially become involved. I stood back from a distance and just admired what was spinning into a cocoon of amazing women, sharing their experiences, both good and bad. It took me years to realize that usually, more often than not, many of my peers had similar fears and insecurities, and like me, they were reluctant to share.
So I did it. I stuck my neck out there and started participating in more than the cocktail receptions. WiC gave me a safe place to share challenges, celebrate successes, seek advice from peers, and mentor those walking the same path I once traveled. I’ve formed lifelong friendships, learned that holding each other up is the ONLY way, saw that there is power in many, and trusted that I can always call on one of my WiC sisters to listen. Some may ask how the investment in WiC, both financially and in time spent, has helped grow my business? My business grows because it reaps the benefits of the professional advice and mentoring I have received to become the best I can be. My business grows because I know firsthand that I am part of the “A” team, a team of WiC members dedicated to ensuring that we ARE the KNOWLEDGE.