Why do you support CRN's Women in Channel campaign?
Inclusiveness in any workforce is crucial if we're to move with the times. How can leaders of organisations really think they are hiring top talent if they're only looking at the male % of the population? I support CRN Women in Channel for a number of reasons, one because there has not been enough representation for women in the industry, or education that's accessible enough for our future generations to understand the extent of opportunity in IT. But mainly because I am a mother of two, a boy and a girl and I want them to grow up in a world where my daughter has the same opportunity as my son, a world where men are not entitled to certain jobs, and easier paths to leadership, or heard in a loud room where it might be difficult for my daughter to be. I want equality for my children and for our future workforces and CRN's Women in Channel is creating the foundation for this future.
How did you get into IT industry?
I like many ended up in IT by getting a taste for it whilst studying at University and very quickly made the decision that this is what I wanted to do. I love our industry; I love that what we do actually makes a difference to the world. I could count on one hand the number of times I've woken up and not wanted to go into work. I enjoy being part of this ever-growing, ever-changing industry and seeing how being a part of this industry has positively changed my family and 1000s of others' lives. I was offered a sales support role in my last year of university whilst taking my exams, two months later one of the account managers resigned from the company and they offered me the role because I'd supported the AM and was told I had a natural sales ability, I knew from the moment I said yes, I was in this industry for the long run.
What do you think is the main reason why the Channel IT industry is mainly male, especially technical roles and senior positions?
I think they're different reasons. I think the technical community is particularly male dominant because the word ‘engineer' is associated to many technical roles, and I think society has allowed the word engineer to be seen as a male role and so women shy away from studying for these positions.
I think many organisations are still in denial around the leadership issue. For decades men have been automatically assumed to be entitle to these roles and there are many significant reasons and issues with why I think women are considered far less than men for leadership positions. I'll touch on one, briefly, childbearing. Whether a woman has or does not have children, I still believe that some organisations look at women as potential liabilities. If one does not have children, what if they want to one day? How could we offer a woman a position where she is leading a team, a company and an organisations go-to-market if there is a risk, she may take 12 months off work to bear a child. Or if she has children, what impact will that have on her work and productivity? I can speak first-hand around the impact having children has had on my work productivity, I know I am a far better mother for working and I am a far better employee for being a mother.
One of the key things I qualify when looking at an organisation I'd want to work for is their stance of working mothers, I am so lucky that I work for an organisation that I genuinely believe whole-heartedly supports me, my work and my family. I can only hope other organisations follow suit.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned in your career?
To not stay silent, if there is something important to say, make sure it is heard because everyone started somewhere, and CEOs were once employees who had the same ideas and creative intuition they have as CEO's and they made themselves heard. Also, to surround yourself with successful people who want to help you thrive, this is the most important thing I've learned.
What are your three top tips for women looking to a career in IT? What advice would you give to young women aspiring to take on leadership roles?
- Do it because it's a fantastic industry
- Speak to specialist IT recruiters, speak to friends/family in the industry, gather as much information as you can
- Be prepared to work hard, to find yourself in uncomfortable situations (these are the best situations, this is when you learn the most) and to earn and learn!
As for women aspiring to take on leadership roles, I am one of these women and so taking my own advice it would be:
- Set yourself a goal with a measurable timeline, once you reach it, set a new goal and never stop
- Be confident, know you're as able and worthy as any man going for the same role. Know that leadership is not management, leading is wanting to help others be the best version of them, so when they achieve, you achieve.
- Be prepared and by that, I mean be prepared for every meeting, every event, every opportunity, know who you're targeting, know your product, know the desired outcome and how you're going to achieve it so that you are never blind-sided and so there is no other person who is better for that leadership role than you are.
Charlotte Shone is channel manager for the UK, Ireland and Nordics at ForeScout:
I'm currently supporting the Channel team in the UK whilst building out our Channel strategy for the Nordic region. I joined ForeScout in July of 2021 and I chose ForeScout because of the strength in the leadership team here, the technologies relevance and the profile of some of the customer references we have. I would describe myself as highly ambitious and driven personally and professionally. My proudest achievement is my family, my two wonderful children.