Laurel Norman entered the IT channel community knowing she could make a difference in the largely male dominated industry.
The channel business leader for Dell EMC in Western Canada pursued the channel because she enjoys business and technology. It was right after the Dot-Com bubble burst but the trouble the sector was facing did not dissuade her.
“Tech is an industry that’s always evolving. I’ve learned that I need a lot of intellectual stimulation and the tech industry keeps me challenged and interested as there is always more to learn,” she said.
Norman got her start in the channel from a colleague who believed her sales and technical background could work for the channel business. She believes being female differentiated her from other candidates.
“I enjoy working with my partners to understand their priorities and helping them match their go-to-market strategies with our solutions. A lot of people approach this role as simply getting partners to resell but in order to be successful we have to become a key part of their go-to-market strategy. Channel Partners present an opportunity to expand our reach and have expertise in areas outside of our core competencies that we can leverage to grow our collective business,” Norman said.
On International Women’s Day, Norman believes it can be an opportunity to celebrate women especially those who paved the way for her own peer group. “Women today don’t face the same problems and prejudices they did in previous generations. It is also a platform to highlight issues like the wage gap that are not always talked about,” she said.
Norman manages the Western Canadian channel for Dell EMC. Her focus is on business development and enablement for strategic solution providers. She also deals with product specialists, inside sales professionals and distributors to grow this base for Dell EMC.
The biggest challenges she faces is one of attention. Getting in front of channel partners, even with the cache of Dell EMC, is not always easy for Norman. “We have longevity but many of our partners believe they know what we have to offer and don’t always invest the time to hear about how we’re changing. The Dell EMC merger has created a lot of renewed interest. It’s an exciting time for us,” she said.
Does she see herself as a channel chief sometime in the future? Norman is certainly open to it as well as other jobs that are at the forefront of the tech sector. “My sight is set on growing my career, continuing to be an expert on changing technologies, and proactively meeting my client’s needs,” she said.
Currently Dell EMC’s channel in Canada is run by Deanna Thomson who took over from another woman pioneer in the channel Tara Fine. Norman said that Thomson is an amazing mentor to her and her male co-workers on the channel team. Norman added that she watches Thomson closely because she wants to learn from a female leader. “It’s important to me to work for a company that fosters female leadership. I feel privileged to have participated in training groups for high performing women that address the areas that can be barriers to success for many women globally,” she said.
Norman believes women leaders have a different set of standards and approaches for business. Despite the progress, women still must fight through many stereotypes. Having someone such as Thomson is an asset for Dell EMC Canada because she has firsthand knowledge of the challenges she faces as a professional in this industry.