Why WiC Membership Matters to RingCentral
By: Helene Kidary, Membership Committee Chair, WiC Board Member and Secretary
I am thrilled to introduce Bryn Nettesheim, Manager of Channel Programs for RingCentral, who joined Women in the Channel last December. I had the pleasure of onboarding Bryn and during the course of our discussion, she told me she wanted to be involved with the Membership Committee, and that her channel chief, Zane Long, gave her permission to use the balance of their 2017 channel budget to pay for 15 more RingCentral women to join Women in the Channel! (Incidentally, we now have our very first member from the United Kingdom, Emily Fallon, who has also joined the Membership Committee and would like to promote WiC in Europe!)
I spoke to Bryn about why she and RingCentral have thrown their support strongly behind WiC. Through our chat, I got to know Bryn and RingCentral better, so I’m happy to share some of that conversation with you.
Helene: RingCentral is already a supporter of WiC as a sponsor. Why is it also providing WiC memberships to its female employees and why now?
Bryn: RingCentral was thrilled to sponsor WiC in 2017 because Zane Long, our channel chief, is very supportive of women in technology and committed to increasing his and RingCentral’s support in the upcoming years. Similarly, high-priority RingCentral 2018 company initiatives include recognizing and increasing workforce diversity, specifically with regard to women. During a senior leadership meeting, an executive commented, “Look around the room; we need more women in here. We are committed to improving this.” And when RingCentral leadership commits to an initiative, it is a serious commitment.
To exemplify that commitment, Lisa Del Real, Associate Vice President – Global Channel Programs and Operations, along with Zane, increased RingCentral’s sponsorship to include all women in the channel to receive memberships this year as well as its sponsorship as a whole. That’s so exciting and indicative of our leadership’s dedication! This strong presence of impassioned women will make such a difference in our communities and industry.
Helene: How diverse is the RingCentral workforce presently, including its leadership? Sounds like that tracks back to Zane.
Bryn: It is influenced by Zane, absolutely, but there are so many contributors to the increasing female leadership at RingCentral. The partner program was founded by Bonnie Lam, who brought on Lisa Deal Real to build it alongside her, so the program has a longstanding commitment to hiring women. As the story goes, I was involved in a sales training session in the RingCentral Denver office, I looked around the room, and it caught my attention how many women had joined our team just in the last year alone—the number had risen from roughly six to 17! This year, many sales directors hired female channel managers in addition to engineering, marketing, sales and all other departments in the organization.
RingCentral’s senior female leaders include:
• Kira Makagon, Executive Vice President of Innovation
• Faiza Hughell, Vice President – Sales, SMB, BDR, SDR and SE
• Neha Mirchandani, Vice President – Corporate Marketing
• Jennifer Caukin, Vice President – Public Relations
• Ritu Mukherjee, Vice President – Product Management
• Lisa Del Real, Associate Vice President – Global Channel Program and Operations
• Anita Richards, Vice President, Customer and Field Marketing
Helene: What would you like our WiC members to know about RingCentral as a place to work or a company to partner with?
Brynn: As a growing industry leader, it is essential to lead by example. RingCentral holds true to that value, as evidenced by collecting “Best Places To Work” awards, continuing to create a diverse work environment, and implementing various other initiatives. But the core of the excitement about working for an organization like RingCentral lies in its “hold on to your seats” style of innovation. We are a group of boundary-pushing, trailblazing entrepreneurs, who run daily marathons as sprints. And we love that pace.
We are each building something unique and important to us, and that’s what fuels us to be fervent, to contribute to the world and to push ourselves. That’s the mentality that allowed us to create a partner program that was “born in the cloud”—we live and breathe cloud—and that champions new standards while challenging the status quo and bucking those old notions. So it only makes sense that we do the same thing in other areas of the company. This value directly benefits partners and customers: We are going to give you the best technology to consume and to encourage customers to consume. We are going to innovate new ways to make it easier to transact with RingCentral as partners because our commitment is to provide the easiest and best experiences with the best product to help partners’ businesses flourish too.
Helene: Let’s get personal, Bryn. Can you tell me, what is your why? Why do you support WiC?
Bryn: The greatest joys I have found in life are to ideate, create and lead. Organizations flourish when members are empowered and impassioned with a vision and a purpose, as well as a sense of direction-belonging. Mentors and advocates are an elemental facet of professional health and growth. But within an organization and industry that has a declining number of female professionals, like tech, how do women find such mentors who have the experiential understanding and capacity to coach female peers?
WiC allows me to expand my network and also to address the core of my why: to give my team, comprised predominately of young women, a place, an organization, a resource and an outlet that they can leverage for their growth and use to address the questions and situations they encounter as well as access a network of successful women. As a leader, it is imperative to provide them with the very basic resources and tools for success. WiC is one of those for myself and for my team. It is my job to learn, leverage and grow from, and to, in turn, give back, grow and coach my team, and take them as far and as high as they want to go.
Helene: Can you share an experience with me that tells me how you took advantage of what would have otherwise been a closed situation due to the fact that you are a female?
Bryn: My parents used the phrasing, “Good job, Bryn,” instead of, “Good girl,” because the praise was about the act, not about me being a girl.
That continued through my youth and adolescence. In third grade, I wanted to join a basketball team, but in rural Wisconsin there wasn’t a girls’ team at that time. (No, it wasn’t the ‘60s or ‘70s either.) So, my dad spoke to the YMCA, and they agreed to allow me to play on the Rockets, a team that was all boys. At the age of 8, I learned how to play with the boys and worked through them thinking that I was less than, or that I wasn’t capable, and took advantage of that learning opportunity to determine my self-worth/capability as a young girl amidst the boys.
My parents, Rick and Nancy, are amazing. The self-worth and values and courage of self-edification are what make me comfortable working in a male-dominated industry. I know I belong. And I can do it. I’ve been doing it my whole life, and I will continue to do it. As you all well know, sitting around a dinner table with clients, you are the only woman. In a boardroom, you’re the only woman. Find your advocate, your sponsor, know that you belong and take advantage of the opportunities when they present themselves. Then own it.
Helene: You recently joined the Membership Committee. Can you tell me why you were drawn to this committee and what you hope to get out of it?
Bryn: The first impression of anything and anyone new to something is critical to their continued participation and level of commitment. It’s like joining a gym for the first time. You might be all excited to get there and “get your fitness on,” but if the membership person or the trainer you are meeting with doesn’t connect with you, the fizz fades, and then weeks later they are calling you to ask where you have been.
I was drawn to the Membership committee because helping people understand the benefits that await them inside this group of women and then guiding them to the areas of their interest is a great privilege. Plus, I love meeting people! For me, the value extracted is to be able to meet tons of talented, professional women, and build committee participation and engagement that increases the knowledge that members bring back into their own organizations and communities.
The RingCentral Membership Team