Donna Wittmann leads one of the more progressive channel organizations in the industry. Wittmann is relatively new to this role, but not necessarily to the channel.
She actually ran a channel program inside perennial direct seller Dell Canada. But IT was not what she really wanted to do after graduating from the University of North Carolina. Wittmann entered the world of high tech by accident, she said. “I was transitioning from accounting to marketing and sales and was looking for a company that would hire me,” Wittmann said.
That company ended up being Xerox led by none other than Anne Mulcahy, the saviour of the iconic American brand. Wittmann lists Mulcahy, along with her mom, as role models in her career. Wittmann added that she has been lucky to work for three companies that embrace diversity in the workplace. Cisco, for example, has impressive women executives such as Padmasree Warrior, Wendy Bahr and Rebecca Jacoby.
Having achieved success in a mostly male-dominated industry is something Wittmann rarely thinks about. “The company I started at was a diverse company run by a woman; with lots of women in senior leadership roles. I didn’t grow up being disadvantaged so I never gave it a second thought,” she said.That didn’t stop one of her managers from suggesting Wittmann dress more like a man if she wanted to be promoted.
“I was told by this manager that the reason I hadn’t been put forth for promotion was that he felt I didn’t dress like a man. I asked him what that would look like. He said Khaki pants, a blue shirt and a belt. That was the only thing that stood out as odd during the first part of my career,” Wittmann said.
Wittmann said her biggest break was moving to Canada to run her first channel operation at Xerox Canada. “I was my own boss. I had autonomy and was able to set my own strategy. It enabled me to put my own stamp on it and it was a great experience.”
Her leadership style is to create win-win situations for whomever she is dealing with. “At Cisco we understand what the partners are trying to do and achieve in their business and I try to put together a scenario that works for everybody. And, I am always thinking of win-wins in everything I do.”