In the lead-up to International Women’s Day (IWD), which celebrates women’s social, economic, cultural, and political achievements, Heather Bouvier, Director of Channel for North America at 11:11 Systems, shares her views.
This year’s theme for IWD is DigitAll: Innovation and technology for gender equality. It aligns with the priority theme for the upcoming 67th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW-67). This event promotes innovation, technological change, and education in the digital age for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.
Joining iland (now 11:11 Systems) eight years ago, Heather was instrumental in building out the company’s channel program. She now runs Channel for North America, leading a large team. She helps direct an evolving channel strategy as 11:11 Systems expands its team and offerings with acquisitions. Even now, every time she gets in front of a partner, she still thinks back to her days as a reseller and the qualities it takes to be a great channel representative and is grateful for those early years.
Starting in technology
Talking to Heather about how she got into technology, she comments: “Like many people, I never chose to work in technology. I entered the workforce during the beginning of the dotcom era and seized an opportunity to join a startup technology company. I knew very little about the industry. The fast-paced environment of a startup forced me to learn a lot in a short time. I found myself really enjoying the ride.”
Heather explains that working in tech means being part of a constantly growing and evolving industry that is not going away. She is passionate about women playing a vital role in the industry’s success. She says it can be intimidating starting out in an industry as complex and jargon-filled as tech, but there are a lot of opportunities for young people. Heather adds: “For me personally, working in the channel has allowed me to have incredible prosperity, career growth, and most importantly – a really great work/life balance. Nothing is more important to me than being a mother and a wife, and my career has allowed me to have the best of all worlds.”
Advice for other women
When asked what advice Heather would give to women starting out in the industry. She says, “Learn as much as you can, as quickly as you can. Build a strong network and find the core strength or talent that will drive your success.
“Personally, I have found a lot of success in how direct I am. Where I’m from, we tend to talk fast, and this efficiency runs over into every aspect of my life. I like to get to the point quickly. This personality trait has proven a real asset in this industry. I am able to run very productive meetings, make quick decisions, and get my team what they need in a timely manner.”
Having worked in the industry for two decades, Heather is often inspired by the women she works with at all levels and the different strengths they bring to their roles. “My Channel Territory Manager, Larissa Tietjen, leaves me in awe at how well she builds relationships and works a room like no other. I would encourage all women at every level to find your strength and use it to your advantage throughout your career.”
Heather went on to talk about how important it is to celebrate women in the channel and the wider technology industry. In particular, she examines what the channel can do to encourage more women.
She says, “Celebrating women in technology is incredibly important because we are such a small percentage of the industry. I would encourage all people, especially women, to look at the technology field as a very prosperous option for a career.
“As women in tech, we need to get in front of young women at the school and university level to educate them on all the options available, many of which they may not even realise exist.
Many women I work with today, (and I include myself) did not plan to find their success in this industry. However, I am very grateful that I found my way to the role I am in today. In the midst of a global digital skills gap, and with IT becoming increasingly vital to our lives, we need to empower young people to consider the technology field. This is true of the sales or channel side. We should also encourage young women to seriously consider technical career options such as software engineering, architecture or data science.”
11:11 Systems is a managed infrastructure solutions provider that holistically addresses the most pressing cloud, connectivity, and security challenges of today while preparing businesses for tomorrow. The 11:11 model empowers customers and partners to “Rethink Connected,” providing a state-of-the-art platform that ensures their applications and data are always running, accessible, and protected. The company is dedicated to delivering increased performance and savings to organizations while freeing up IT resources to focus on the core business.