Female Channel Executives On Taking Risks And Jumping In: ‘Not A Straight-Line Journey’

‘I always tell my kids when they are faced with any situation, they should always just be a little bit more excited than they are afraid,’ one woman of the channel said during a panel at WOTC West 2022.

Less Fear, More Faith

Any woman of the channel can attest: Playing it safe and keeping the status quo isn’t always the best option. As your personal and professional life progress and changes happen along the way, taking risks – calculated or otherwise – is an important muscle to flex.

At The Channel Company’s Women of the Channel West 2022 event this week in Carlsbad, Calif., a panel of executives from Intel, Konica Minolta, iboss and Exclusive Networks who were no stranger to taking a leap of faith now and then, discussed their take on taking risks. The channel leaders shared the changes they’ve experienced along their personal lives and careers that required making a big change, including switching to a new company after many years, taking on a new role or stretch position within their organizations, or making a cross-country move having known no one at their new location. Taking a leap isn’t a one size fits all venture and for some, it could mean planning out each step and making sure there’s a place to land or having the confidence to know they can figure it out if things go south. For others, leaping into the unknown is like second nature.

The executives discussed how they went about maneuvering through these changes, the lessons they learned in the process, and how the outcomes may have differed than what they were expecting. Here’s what the channel leaders had to say.

Kim Carlton, Director of Channel Marketing, Intel

Taking a leap of faith for Carlton means that she‘s done her research. She’s no stranger to taking on a calculated risk, which means thinking a decision through to make sure it makes sense. She‘s also a believer that people are where they are supposed to be, and she has faith that she can take on challenges that come her way.

“I‘m in the right place … and if something doesn’t turn out exactly the way I think it‘s going to, I figure it out,” she said.

Carlton is always willing to take on new tasks and try new things professionally. Carlton went to school for retail management and was doing it successfully for a few years when she had a gut feeling that it wasn‘t what she was supposed to be doing. She wasn’t excited or passionate about her job, even though on paper, the job was good and people in her life didn‘t necessarily understand why she was unhappy.

But early on in her career, she made that change. “What I learned is I had to follow my gut. I just I believe that your gut instinct is somewhat leading you, like a guardian angel or something. You have to listen to your gut. And I took that with me through the rest of my career.”

And after a 3.5 year “not a straight-line journey,” a full-time job, a marriage and three kids, Carlton completed her MBA. “I took a leap of faith and I put myself out there. It‘s something that I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to get done. In the end, it all worked out because I just kept putting one foot in front of the other,” she said.

“I always tell my kids when they are faced with any situation, they should always just be a little bit more excited than they are afraid,” she added.

Elisa Esposito, Director, Marketing Programs, Konica Minolta

Esposito is a risk taker, both in her professional and personal life, as evidenced by her decision one day to buy a motorcycle and learn how to drive it. “That‘s me,” she said. At work, she tries her best and takes leaps, but if things don’t go according to plan, she says she‘s sorry afterwards.

In many ways, taking risks professionally is even easier than it is in your personal life, Esposito said. “At work, you really know your position, your job and [how to] get it done. If it doesn‘t work out, you can make adjustments. But personally, you have other people involved. And I feel that sometimes I’m not sure if that was the right thing I did for my child, or for my marriage, or just even with friends.”

On the professional side, Esposito‘s big leap was leaving her last company that she was at for more than 19 years to take on her current role at Konica Minolta in 2020. Her last company was planning on promoting her and she has to make the decision between staying and going. There was a lot of inertia holding Esposito in place because she felt like her former company was family and she felt comfortable in her own skin. On some level, she didn’t feel like she had the confidence to move on even though she was great at her job.

Still, she took the leap and made the change. “It really wasn‘t until I just said, Well, if they’re interested in me, then there must be something about me and not what I look like,” she said. “You can‘t be like everyone else. Just be you. You are who you are.”

May Mitchell, Senior Vice President of Marketing, iboss

If the past two years has taught anyone anything, it‘s everyone is more agile and resilient than they thought they were. Mitchell’s attitude is to go into situations with confidence and take ownership. If it doesn‘t work out, try to get better next time.

A self-proclaimed risk taker, Mitchell likes to keep an open mind and isn‘t afraid to ask questions. “If you don’t think outside the box, those opportunities won‘t present themselves to you. And when those opportunities are presented to you, you’ve got to grab [them] because if you‘re not, our male counterparts are.”

Mitchell said that women need to risk-takers in both their personal and professional life. “You have to have both,” she said. “The timing may be a little bit off, [but] think that your foundation and the way that you think about [risk taking] should be pretty consistent.”

Mitchell‘s recent leap was joining iboss in December 2020 before there was a marketing department. “I just took the leap. I think a lot of that has to do with if you’ve been doing this long enough, you‘re building self-confidence. You’ve been there, done it before. If you make mistakes, that‘s fine. You’re not going to repeat it. You‘re going to try something different. You’re going to own it and course correct.”

Meredith Scheraldi, Director of North American Marketing, Exclusive Networks

Taking a leap to Scheraldi means stepping outside her comfort zone and taking the “stretch” task. It‘s asking: What’s the worst that can happen?“ and knowing that it‘s okay to not have all the answers.

“I like to weigh the options, and still take the leap,” she said.

Early in her career, Scheraldi moved to Florida from Pennsylvania for a job without knowing anyone in the state. She gave herself a year. Things didn‘t ultimately work out for the company, so she gave herself another six months to find something new before moving back to Pennsylvania. She found a new job and has been in Florida for 25 years. “Use the opportunity and don’t be afraid,” she said.

More recently, Scheraldi took a new job with Exclusive Networks after “emotionally, mentally, and physically readying herself for the next, necessary step. A few weeks into her new role, she was cooking and listening to music in the kitchen with her daughter when her husband commented: ”I‘m glad you’re back.“ It was then that Scheraldi knew she had made the right leap.

“I knew I made the right decision. Things aren‘t perfect and not everything is exactly where it needs to be, but that’s fine. I‘m just happy for that opportunity.”