Having a passion for what you do should always be the starting point of any career path.
I can confidently say this, because I’ve always been passionate about the channel. And it’s this drive to be involved with the channel, with all the wonderful people that work in it, it’s intricacies and its competitive nature, that has led me to Unify, where I’m now the Global Head Field & Channel Marketing. However, taking the next step in your career does often take more than just passion, particularly if you’re a woman in a traditionally male-dominated industry.
Despite the challenges I’ve led my professional life the way I’ve wanted to, and what follows is a snapshot of what I’ve learnt on my journey — which is by no means over — and that I can share:
Listening to understand and build relationships
Active listening and communication skills underpin how I climbed the career ladder. I can’t stress enough how important it is to really listen to people — not to respond, but to understand. You need to understand what results they want of course, but you need to dig deeper. Listen to them and try to understand their motivation.
When thinking about your career path specifically, listening to those around will also help guide you. In my development, building a strong network of support was essential. My peers advised me about what I excelled at, and what my weaknesses were. I used this advice to determine my next step in my career. You don’t need to be alone in your growth.
What you say, matters
One of the first things people notice about you is how you communicate. It might seem impressive to use the latest jargon or acronyms, but it can be overrated. It’s far more important for you to be understood than impress people with the words that you use. Being able to communicate in a well-structure manner helps to deliver compelling results.
Over-complicating matters will only confuse others, so be simple and direct in your approach. This will lead to more tangible actions to get a job done easily, quickly and in a more organised way — helping you look good to your managers and peers.
Be curious, and sometimes feel the fear and do it anyways…
Never shy away from asking questions that you think are ‘stupid’ because more often than not, there will be people in the room that are unsure what the answer is too.
In the past, colleagues have used acronyms in meetings and as a new employee I’d often ask what it means. You’ll be surprised by how many others will have had no idea either, but have never thought to ask in a fear it makes them look ‘stupid’. It doesn’t. Making sure you understand a topic or action is vital to being able to do your job properly.
It’s also natural to struggle with a task or a piece of information given to you, regardless of our position, but make it your goal to know everything there is to know about it. Being unsure negatively impacts on your confidence and your ability to work, so take the time to research and ask questions so you can execute on your actions. This way you can gain real credibility with your colleagues and team.
Life’s nothing without a challenge. As you keep climbing the career ladder, you will face obstacles. As a woman in a traditionally male-dominated industry, my ambitious and hardworking nature was often met with hostility by male colleagues.
When these moments do arise, it’s important to not react in the same way. Rise above it and minimise the conflict. In my experience, the best way to deal with these barriers is always preparing yourself with facts and statistics that support you, because ultimately it’s hard to argue with the truth. Always take the higher ground with a more credible response to these issues.
It’s not always been so straightforward to becoming a VP and the steps to getting here have come with its unique challenges. Each individual will have their own set of barriers to overcome in their career, especially as women striving to succeed in an industry dominated by men. Don’t let this deter you. The skills and network I built through my professional life has helped me develop in a way that suits my passion. Take the time to understand your ambitions, skills and work and you will be well on the way to the next step of your career.
About the author:
Michelle Jones – Global Head Field & Channel Marketing
With over 20 years experience, Michelle is a dynamic results driven business leader delivering marketing transformation in the IT and Communication industry. Michelle’s expertise include ABM, channel development and marketing, digital and social selling to aid the transformation of go to market strategies and grow channel relationships. As Global Head Field & Channel Marketing at Unify, Michelle adapts marketing models and strategy for greater channel performance aiding the process to the cloud, helping teams and partners achieve profitable growth through greater scale and efficiencies.