CDN 2016 Women of the IT Channel honouree Grace Martins took the traditional route to success. She started at the bottom.
The vice president and GM of Toronto-based CDN Top 100 Solution Provider QRX Technology did not at all think of pursuing a career in the IT channel. Martins called her start an accident.
“Back in 1987 I was just looking for a full-time position somewhere and I applied for the receptionist job. That’s how I started,” she said. That company was one time CDN Top 100 Solution Provider Albert White & Associates.
Martins quickly realized that sales would be a way to grow with the company. So she transferred first to a customer satisfaction role, which led to a job in the sales and marketing department. She knew from there to go further required more education so she enrolled in a night course on business.
After seven years at the company Martins found out that its founder Steven White (who she named as one of her mentors) was ill and decided to sell the company. From there Martins decided to accept a new challenge with one of Albert White’s partners QRX Technology Group. She landed the position of national sales manager in 1994.
Another mentor in her career is John Ponzi, who Martins called a genius with administration, process, balancing and logistics.
“For me I feel like I worked in all the departments. So I can relate to all areas and I’m glad I did that instead of starting right away as a manager. Truly I look back and I’m grateful to be exposed to all those areas because it enabled me to mature in my career,” she said.
Martins found it surprising that women only make up 25 per cent of the IT workforce in Canada. “I deal with a ton of ladies and when I look at partners such as Lexmark and HP there are a lot of females. Maybe that’s the space I’m in, while others might be a whole lot different,” she said.
Today Martins encourages young women to join IT or the channel because its “serious fun!”
The University of Toronto alum today works passionately as a delegate to the International Women’s Leadership Association and is involved with the Special Needs Adult Program Services Organization (SNAPSO). SNAPSO provides special needs individuals with opportunities to be active and visible in their community – something that Martins feels passionately about.
“By giving back you get to really appreciate what you have. I am really passionate about the SNAPSO program and adults with special needs in general. I want to make this more visible in the community because it’s important to identify the needs that are out there. We should all help.”