ACW is home to a vibrant community of channel professionals from across the country. We enjoy getting to know them at our in-person events and are happy to introduce you to them in this recurring Membership Matters Q&A. This month we’re getting to know Lisa Kay Miller, President and COO of Spearhead Advisors Inc., an IT consulting company that helps businesses optimize managed IT and telecom solutions from Lumen (formerly CenturyLink).
Miller, a 30-year veteran of the telecom industry, is the former President at Lumen, where she was responsible for two business units with more than $7 billion in revenue and more than 2,000 employees. Previously, she also held leadership roles at Sprint Communications and Level 3 Communications.
Her peers have regularly recognized Miller’s dedication to excellence. She was named to CRN’s Power 100 Women in the Channel for the past three years and is list on the Titan 100, Colorado’s top 100 CEOs and C-level executives. As a further testament to her leadership in the channel, Miller served a two-year term on ACW Board of Directors from 2019-2020 .
Why did you join ACW?
ACW invited me to speak on a panel at one of their events for Channel Partners. The panel was comprised of many industry leaders. I was impressed with the event, the attendees’ engagement and the quality of the speakers. I knew I wanted to be a part of this professional organization, so I joined right after that event. The following year my company (Lumen) became an ACW sponsor!
What do you hope to get from and to give to ACW membership?
Women need to know there is a great community of supporters at ACW. Companies invest in their employees and train them on their products and services, but they do not educate women on what is essential to them outside of work. Many women in the indirect channel are self-employed agents who may not have access to training.
ACW is a place for a diverse group to learn about the overall industry, what challenges women face, how they can become engaged, work with peers on committees, attend local and national events and develop themselves. Having four strong daughters, I have always been an advocate for women and what we can collectively achieve when we work together.
Are you a committee volunteer?
Yes, in addition to being on the Board until 2021, I am a Co-Chair of the Mentoring Committee.
What do you get from your committee participation?
The Mentoring Committee offers two types of mentoring: Mentoring Circles and one-on-one mentoring opportunities.
The Mentoring Circles I brought to ACW because it was so effective at my former company. The Circles started in 2020 when I mentored 10 women monthly for six sessions. We covered topics like authentic leadership, effective networking, career journey, etc. This past fall, we grew to four Mentoring Circles with more than 12 women per group, which allowed upwards of 50 women to be mentored! We have a long waitlist for our next series and are thrilled with the enthusiasm in this program. We kick off the next series in 2Q 2021. As a committee, we continue to look for ways to make the program even stronger!
What difficulty have you overcome that impacted your career for the better?
Change is constant in life, and the faster you can embrace change, the better. This summer, I left corporate America after 30 years of being with large companies. I have always told people to run at change; however, that is easier said than done! This year I had to do a lot of self-evaluation as I looked for what I wanted in my next career path. I knew that I did not want another job where I was in a constant work/life imbalance.
This past summer, I was able to focus on what I loved to do. What parts of my job brought me the most joy and satisfaction? Those things were going to be the baseline for my next role, in addition to working about five more years. Starting Spearhead Advisors gave me the freedom and flexibility to start a business while remaining true to what I love. This new adventure has been exhilarating for me. My passion is working directly with customers, developing people, and building organizations. While leaving corporate America was scary, I am so happy that I did. Spreading your wings and trying something different can be a great energizer!
If you were to give yourself advice when you graduated from high school, what would it be?
Be flexible in your career and life as there are many ways to reach a goal.
People want to see their career only go up! This is logical but not always practical. I have a very blessed career. I knew being in an industry with very few women would be a challenge. I have always been competitive, yet also a realist that knew I would have to be flexible and creative as I navigated my career. Rather than setting exact timelines for desired promotions, I set my goal that I would be happy if I were learning and progressing. Sometimes this means that you must take one step backward or sideways to get two steps ahead. I was willing to take on any team or organization to develop. This meant I was usually given the teams that needed the most work, but that was OK. I was up for the task! And guess what? It is a lot easier to turn around low-performing organizations than high-performing ones! I progressed faster by taking this approach than I ever would have to reach a particular milestone by specific timeframes. I NEVER felt 100 percent qualified for the job I was being asked to do! I felt if others trusted me for the role, who was I to turn it down! Remember, we are more capable than we give ourselves credit for. 😊
I took the same approach and knew that perfection would not work with four children, a husband and a demanding job. I tried to be very flexible here and focus on the long game. Some days victory was getting four kids to bed, fed and still alive! It is incredible how less stressful life can be when your goals become this simple. When the bar is too high, the stress can do you in! I was forced into flexibility due to my job.
What are your hobbies outside of work?
With four daughters, three sons-in-law, six grandchildren with another on the way, my free time is all about my family. That may be planning a family vacation, making Christmas cookies with the grandkids, working on my kids’ photo albums, or traveling to see the ones that live out of state. I love taking walks or hikes in Colorado. I love flowers, gardening and decorating my house for the changing seasons.
What is one personal and one professional goal you have in the next five years?
- Personal: Learn to play the guitar or piano
- Professional: To grow Spearhead Advisors to be one of the most successful IT & Telecom consulting agencies in the industry!