WOTC 2022: Four Ways To Be Effective And Get What You Want In Tech

CJ Fairfield

‘I think anytime you become a leader or we become a parent, you find a lot of lessons in that as well. From that was born a mantra now in my life and my household, what I teach my kids and my team, is the only thing I expect now of myself and everyone around me is to try their hardest. I don’t really have an outcome anymore.’ says Kristi Kirby, vice president of vendor management, edge solutions at TD Synnex.

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Excitement is the same emotion as fear, said Arrow Electronics’ Kristin Russell. A simple change of perception can turn that emotion around and breed encouragement.

“Change the mindset to say, ‘I’m excited about having this conversation because what’s on the other side of it is going to be good for me,’” said Russell, president of global enterprise solutions at Arrow Electronics.

That was one of the many pearls of wisdom and advice given during a panel titled “Asking And Getting What You Want Authentically And Effectively.”

The panel at CRN parent company The Channel Company’s Women of the Channel event in New York City this week was moderated by Kavita May, senior vice president of the Global Technology DIstribution Council (GTDC), and included Russell; Lori Cornmesser, senior vice president of global channels and alliances at Deepwatch; Kristi Kirby, vice president of vendor management, edge solutions at TD Synnex; and Bronwyn Hastings, corporate vice president of global ISV partnerships and channels at Google Cloud.

For Cornmesser, her biggest challenge in getting what she wanted was negotiating for herself.

“I always just took what people gave me,” she said. “And culturally, I was just told to get a job and don‘t make a lot of waves.”

But when she asked for more, she got it.

“Learn to be a storyteller of yourself,” she said.

Neiko Hines, channel account manager at Lenovo, said her biggest takeaway from the panel was to be a champion for other people.

“It’s reaching out to other women, or men, and being that mentor,” she told CRN. “It’s about reaching out and saying, ‘Hey, I‘m here for you.’ You have to open the doors for other people. That’s what we’re here for and that’s what I want to do.”

Here are four ways to authentically and effectively ask for what you want.


Play Chess, Not Checkers

May said that for many women it’s hard to navigate towards success, and at times it’s not always linear.

“Sometimes we have to take a lateral move or even take a little bit of a backseat,” she said. “If you ever had to do that, what did that mean to you in terms of your career, and how did you manage to do that?” she asked.

Russell said her career path has been “very circuitous, which is code for confusing.

“Maybe even reckless,” she added.

Earlier in her career, she was working at Oracle when the governor of Colorado was looking for the next secretary of technology and chief information officer for the state. Her first thought was that she wasn’t qualified. She took the interview and then, despite the fact that the gig would represent an 80 percent pay cut, she took the job.

“I just felt like this is something that‘s really important for me to do and a job that I know I’m going to learn,” she said. “I‘ve always taken jobs because of two reasons, and that’s because I can learn and I can teach. There‘s something that I know that they need and there’s something that I don‘t know that I need to learn.”

She advised the audience to play chess versus checkers when it comes to their career. She said think long term about what is needed to get to the next job and then to get to the next job after that.


Find A Company That Values Your Wants And Needs

May asked Cornmesser what actions she was willing to take to get to the next level and what were her non-negotiables.

As a mom, Cornmesser said she knew she would miss some of her kids’ extracurricular activities when taking on bigger roles in the workplace, “But I wasn‘t going to miss birthdays. I wasn’t going to miss the championship games. I wasn’t going to miss the ballet’s opening night.”

She added that she’s willing to make sacrifices to not miss those moments. But the place where she is now in her career, she evaluates a company as much as they evaluate her in the hiring process.

“I wanted a company that was not going to mess around with pay grades and was going to pay people for the value of what they bring to the equation,” she said. “And they had a great culture of women and minorities. They were very vocal on social issues.”

She believes women can get to the point in their careers where they have a lot of luxury to say, “Here are the things that are going to be important for me.”


Find The Lesson In Failure

May asked Kirby if there was a time where she asked for what she wanted for and didn’t get it.

Over her career, Kirby learned that she’s never afraid to ask for things for her team or other people, but she was afraid to ask for herself.

“It’s hard to put yourself out there,” she said.

And even when she’s put herself out there and asked for what she wanted, at times she didn’t receive it.

“What happens is you feel all the feels, you feel sad, of course you get a little mad sometimes, you get the whole cycle,” Kirby said. “And then eventually you get to the worst of all feels, which is you‘re really disappointed in yourself.”

But women have to celebrate their failures as much as their successes, she said. Failure is where lessons are learned.

“I think anytime you become a leader or we become a parent, you find a lot of lessons in that as well,” she said. “From that was born a mantra now in my life and my household, what I teach my kids and my team, is the only thing I expect now of myself and everyone around me is to try their hardest. I don‘t really have an outcome anymore.”

She added that not asking for what you want is “a guaranteed rate” that you’re not going to get it.


Develop Long-Term Skills

To develop long-term skills, Hastings said it’s crucial to build an authentic brand and figure out what you want your brand to be known for.

“It’s not about selling yourself, it’s about being conscious about yourself,” she said.

To lead with that brand, she said to invest in communication and how to tell a story.

“Invest in how to actually advocate because that’s the thing that changes someone else’s life,” she said.

It’s also important to practice “modeling of good.”

“When I’m sitting in a meeting I’m absolutely present,” she said. “I’m not multitasking, but I’m doing two things. The first thing is listening to the content. The second is seeing how well the actual dynamic is done. Is there something I can learn?”

CJ Fairfield

CJ Fairfield is an associate editor at CRN covering solution providers, MSPs and distributors. Prior to joining CRN, she worked at daily newspapers, including The Press of Atlantic City in New Jersey and The Frederick News-Post in Maryland. She can be reached at

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