IAMCP Women In Technology: An Interview with Rochelle Coleman

"The Erika Interview" is a monthly column authored by Erika Moll.  This interview series features highly talented and brilliant women that work within the Microsoft and Channel Partner community. Published the IAMCP Women in Technology December 2016 is Concerto's own Rochelle Coleman. Original interview can be downloaded here.

I was fortunate enough to have the chance to chat with Rochelle Coleman for my December issue. Rochelle is currently the Director of Marketing and Partner Strategy at Concerto Cloud Service, a fully managed cloud services provider headquartered in Tampa, FL. Rochelle is their only Canadian employee and travels there regularly. Rochelle received her BAH from McMaster in Political Science and an MBA from the Schulich School of Business. When Rochelle isn’t travelling across the country for her job she is the lead singer of her rock band, Cellar71, an avid hot yogi, an Orange Theorist and mom to her 12-year-old son.

Erika: What is your current position at Concerto and how did you find yourself there?

Rochelle: Before I came to Concerto I had been at Microsoft for 12 fantastic years, as well as some time spent at a global ISV and a Canadian telco. Concerto Cloud Services was born out of a rich history in the Dynamics ERP and CRM space, and has an amazing group of leaders. They were on the search for a leader with background in both the channel as well as strategic marketing...

It took a good two to three months for me to make the decision that my time should be spent in the US versus the Canadian market. However, cloud is global in nature, so the opportunity to impact a high growth, leading edge business was an exciting proposition. It’s been a great journey so far – I work with amazing team members who are truly supportive like a family. One of my biggest personal challenges is continuing to get used to being away from home more. It can certainly be manic at times – living out of a suitcase and still trying to manage to be there as a mom, a wife and a friend to all.
Turning the corner into our next fiscal year, we will be a marketing organization of about 6 strong. Our team is fully accountable for ensuring that our partners in our partnership program are enabled and successful as well as driving strong market awareness and demand generation for the Concerto brand. The other hat I wear within Concerto is that of partner strategy. I own the larger relationships for Microsoft, Cisco & NetApp and am
accountable for driving the right plans with each of these partnerships for Concerto. When I'm down in Tampa, I try to align meetings to support the team and have the more strategic, face-to-face meetings.

Erika: What is one piece of advice you would give to young women who are deciding on a career in technology?

Rochelle: I would give 3 pieces of advice:

1. Don't ever compromise what you love. Women in Technology are at their best when they don’t stray away from what their core competencies are. It's hard to compete at the best of times in the workplace when you're juggling your personal and professional life. You’re going to get there much faster when you really align what you're doing to your core competencies. Marketing, social and advertising concepts come very natural to me. It's not something I feel like I really have to work hard at because of what is inherent to me. Align with what you love to do most and it will be a much easier ride.

2. Don't rush your youth and take all the experiences early on. When I started working at IBM I was hired to work in the distribution area with customs and borders to ensure that our computers weren't going to the wrong parts of the world and being used for negative scenarios. I joined IBM because of its reputation and the experience that I would receive. I didn’t know that it would be the beginning of my career in tech. I then spent a year in Bermuda selling photocopiers, because I thought "why not;" this is the time to travel and experience different parts of the world. So many people have this idea that they have to be in the corporate world and that they have to climb the corporate ladder by the time they're 30. Take the experience and opportunities that are given to you. I didn’t want to be comfortable at 35; for me it wasn't enough. Now's the time to really push yourself and take those chances. Don't stay in that little box, go have those experiences and make yourself better.

 3. Try to develop leadership skills very early on. The reality is, when you first come into an organization, whether you like it or not people make the judgment on whether you are going to be a leader, manager, director or VP very early on in your career. I had a hard working personality early on, but I wasn't displaying the personality characteristics of a leader for the first 10 years of my career. I thought what everyone wanted to see was what I had accomplished and what I was bringing to the team. My view was that I had very little patience and I was going to climb that ladder. By having that mission it actually slowed me down. Now, as a mom and managing my own team, I've learned different traits and skills that contribute to a good leader and overall make a worthy team.

Erika: What was the greatest lesson you’ve learned?

Rochelle: The greatest lesson I have learned is to embrace the journey. When I was younger I didn't have enough time to enjoy the opportunity. I was so rushed and kept thinking about what was coming up next and how I was going to get there. I never took a step back and just enjoyed each stage. Take a breath and take it all in.

For more, read Rochelle's bio.