Welcome to our CDW Careers Blog. We're excited to share coworker stories and their perspectives on what #LifeAtCDW is all about.
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Sales Managers at CDW have a lot of responsibility. From partner relationships to exceeding profit goals, Sales Managers like Erin Thor, Sales Manager - Financial Services, and JC Kim, Sales Manager - Small Business, directly impact the success of our organization, while bringing value to the thousands of customers we help daily. See how they began at CDW as Account Managers, their journey and what they look for in candidates.
How did your career start out at CDW?
Erin Thor (ET): I was hired in 2011 as an Account Manager in CDW Healthcare, calling on organizations providing patient care. This ranged from small regional Doctor’s offices to large national Hospitals. About one year in, I was offered the opportunity to transition to a newly-formed team calling on Corporate customers. I jumped at the opportunity and ended up selling on that team for 4 years. After 4 years, I was promoted to become the manager of that very team! I’ve been in management for 2.5 years now within the Corporate Verticals – now covering Financial Services customers.
JC Kim (JC): I started my CDW Career in October 2011 as an Account Manager in Chandler AZ, supporting Los Angeles for about 5 years and developed into an Executive Account Manager on our Corporate team. I spent a little over 2 years afterwards as the Sales Manager – Academy in Chandler, working with every new sellers in specific segments and during this time won President’s Achievement for 2017. Since October 2018, I’ve been managing Small Business for Southern California.
What do you look for in an Account Representative candidate?
ET: Candidates that stand out in the interview process have a competitive spirit, are passionate, and have demonstrated adaptability in the face of change. They can apply lessons they’ve learned in school or previous jobs to a future career.
JC: I’m always looking for a combination of personality, drive, confidence, intelligence, coachability and strong communication skills, all wrapped around a coworker’s strong work ethic. The ideal candidate would come to CDW with a strong moral compass and a genuine passion for delivering good and helping others. In an interview setting, I’m also looking for those rare candidates that clearly did the research on CDW and the IT Industry and expresses a genuine desire to grow a long-term career in Sales.
What makes a successful Account Representative?
ET: The best Account Representatives are self-starters. They don’t need someone telling them exactly what to do every minute of the day. They love to learn and don’t mind making a few mistakes along the way. They also understand that success doesn’t come over night. The work they put in at the start of their career will pay dividends in the long run!
JC: As the Sales Manager – Academy in Chandler for over 2 years, I’ve had the pleasure of helping onboarding 90+ new Account Representatives into our business. When I look at some of the most successful sellers out of that group, every single one shares the same combination of drive, confidence, coachability and communication skills. But above all, it is the Account Representative’s work ethic and GRIT (i.e., the ability to remain resilient despite multiple challenges over a long period of time) that jump out the most.
What advice would you give to candidate pursuing the role?
ET: This is an amazing company to work for with a strong culture and passionate coworkers. The first year or two won’t be easy, but if you’re willing to put in a lot of hard work, you’ll find success quickly and hopefully have some fun doing it. The Account Representative role is best suited for the person who is in it for the long-haul.
JC: Study the role as much as possible, and look at it as a minimum 2-3 year commitment. Understand that this role has a ramp up period for good reason due to the complexity of the industry and the long term earning potential CDW offers, and we are more invested in our seller’s development than any other company in the industry.
What do you wish you knew starting at CDW?
ET: I just wish I would have taken advantage of all the amazing opportunities CDW offers sooner! For example, I didn’t get involved with any of our Business Resource Groups until 3 years in – this would have been great for me to do right away in year 1.
JC: I only wish I found CDW earlier in my professional career.
What was your favorite part of being an Account Representative?
ET: Being in control of your own destiny. Want to make more money? Make more calls, fearlessly pitch solutions without fear of rejection, and find ways to stand out from your competition. If you do the things you’re “supposed to” do, success will come. You are in control of just how fast it happens.
JC: Transitioning into and learning about a completely new industry was very exciting for me when I first started. I came from advertising sales, where it was sometimes hard to find tangible value to deliver to my customers and I immediately fell in love with how CDW can deliver value in so many ways to our customers. The coaching that I received along with getting to know the many different PEOPLE that positively influenced my career beginning during the first month at CDW are standouts for me personally.
"CDW is an incredible place to build a lifelong career. The company truly cares about its coworkers, has an outstanding culture, and offers opportunities for limitless growth. I truly look forward to coming to work every day, and that’s not something I take lightly," shares Erin.
Explore Inside Sales at CDW.
Erin Thor & JC Kim
June is Pride Month and CDW's Business Resource Group, Business Resource Alliance Valuing Equality (BRAVE), is proud to have an opportunity to celebrate this month. BRAVE's vision is to enhance the work environment, provide networking opportunities, and promote activities that help our LGBTQ coworkers and allies reach their full professional potential. We caught up with three members from BRAVE, Kelly Twomey Eidson, Jonathan Malloy and Travis Rickert, to hear their perspective on what pride means to them and how BRAVE has influenced their experience at CDW.
What does pride mean to you?
KE: Pride means to celebrate who your authentic self is.
JM: Pride is a celebration of the LGBTQ+ community. It is a reminder of the struggles we had to go through together to get the rights we have now, and the struggles members of our community are still going through every day. Every Pride, we march to remember all those who have gone before us, and we march for all those who can’t march for themselves.
I am there because Pride is welcome to all. Pride doesn’t discriminate based on ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, body type, age, disability, religion, or what you are ‘into.' It is a representation of the mantra “One Struggle, One Fight” (from the mini-series When We Rise), showing unity across groups that have struggled to get equal rights. I wish people in our community would treat each other like it was Pride year-round. We are so much stronger together than when we divide ourselves up.
TR: Pride for me is unconditionally loving myself for who I am and not conforming to what others want or expect me to be. Pride is about recognizing, embracing and celebrating our differences.
Briefly describe your experience as part of the BRAVE BRG. How do you think it’s influenced your experience at CDW?
TR: Being a leader in CDW’s BRAVE BRG for eight years has strengthened my ability to find solutions, look at the bigger picture and strengthen my leadership skills.
BRAVE has provided me an avenue to share my voice and break out of my shell. Diversity & inclusion is a passion I have, and BRAVE has allowed me to grow that passion, as well as grow myself.
KE: The BRGs allow me to meet people throughout the organization that I do not interact with during the regular work day. As an ally with the BRAVE BRG, I have had the opportunity to talk through scenarios with coworkers that have a different view of problems or issues that arise. I have grown in my decision making experience as I have more lenses that I evaluate problems with and recognize more stakeholders in a project. It has helped me grow in how to show acceptance and inclusion to all coworkers throughout the organization.
Why is it important to be an ally?
TR: An ally is someone who is able to listen, understand and give support. An ally uses their privilege to further the LGBTQ community positively and helps share the truth about equality.
KE: It is important to be an ally as there are times that I have a platform and can be a voice for others. I can demonstrate acceptance of individuals as individuals and inclusion of groups to those I work with, as well as the next generation.
What would you say to a member of the LGBTQ community considering a career with CDW?
JM: One piece of advice I would like to give anyone who is considering CDW as a potential career is this: Always be true to yourself. If you are a geek, show it off! Enjoy 80s rock? Photography? Gardening? Horror movies? Let it shine! And if you are LGBTQ, let your pride flag fly! Sometimes all it takes is a coworker walking by your desk to notice a bit of memorabilia (or in my case a pride flag), to start up a conversation.
TR: This is a place I call home. I feel supported not only by my peers, but also my manager and leadership through CDW. This is a place where innovation and passion are not thrown to the wayside. I have been afforded many opportunities that I never thought I would have if I was with another company. I would recommend this company to anyone that is passionate and strives to move the needle forward in equality and in IT.
Learn more about CDW's Diversity & Inclusion efforts here.
Kelly Twomey Eidson, Jonathan Malloy and Travis Rickert
I am amazed at the process at which a gardener can grow a flower or plant. The effort it takes to prepare and position seeds for success is amazing. I often think about this process as I have progressed in my career and planted seeds at CDW. Each of those "seeds" is an opportunity to stretch your abilities or grow your career journey.
Why am I talking about plants on a blog for a technology company? At CDW, the seeds planted since I began almost 15 years ago, are too many to count. And they are continuing to grow. Whether I am working with customers one-on-one, leading a team of individuals to a career in technology, and nurturing a team of tenured sellers, I have been able to grow personally and professionally.
At the beginning of 2018, I found myself at a new opportunity to lead the Cisco Excellence team at CDW. We are responsible for the ongoing business, strategy and execution of the Cisco business at CDW.
Cisco and CDW have an incredible relationship. It extends with our participation with Cisco's Talent Bridge, a Cisco Networking Academy program. The Cisco Networking Academy program teaches thousands of students worldwide the skills required to build, design and maintain networks. In 2018, CDW became the exclusive sponsor of the Cisco Networking Academy Dream Team at Cisco Live and continues that sponsorship this year. The Dream Team consists of individuals that have been selected by Cisco and CDW as the top in their classes at the Cisco Networking Academy. This program is top notch and globally known for educating and training new-to-career individuals starting or transitioning into the technology industry. At Cisco Live, the Dream Team will support the Network Operation Center (NOC) team onsite to create an exceptional customer experience and uninterrupted wireless network connectivity at the event.
The way a gardener cares for their plants is similar to the way leadership at CDW supports our coworkers in their career journey. The Dream Team represents, to CDW, an extension of our culture of providing individuals the opportunity to become successful in the technology industry. CDW provides networking opportunities at the event, a lunch & learn session around preparing for an interview and a panel discussion. Over the last several years, this partnership has been extremely successful in preparing students to be hired into CDW’s Associate Consulting Engineer Program. When CDW Talent Acquisition sees the Cisco Networking Academy experience on a resume, we know that those individuals have had top notch, hands-on, industry leading training.
At CDW, we care deeply about our coworkers, customers, partners, and communities we live and work in. We partner with many organizations to make a difference in the communities and lives we touch. CDW’s amazing learning culture provides opportunities to build your career like I have done for myself. The garden is blossoming at CDW we look forward to planting more seeds to grow our coworkers and future talent of CDW.
As we celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, we caught up with Gian Sese, Chair of CDW's Pan Asian Council (PAC) Business Resource Group. Gian shares his experience at CDW, PAC's efforts and a food recommendation!
What’s your role at CDW and how long have you been with the company?
I started out as a temp back in 2012 then was offered a full-time opportunity after six months with CDW. I started out in Product & Partner Management (PPM) as Dropship Buyer for backorder fulfillment, then moved quickly to a Dropship Emergency Buyer. I progressed to be the Dropship Buyer for the majority of our enterprise and security partners. My exposure to this role expanded my network within the company from Backbone organization to our Sales organization, and with our partners as well. From this, I became a Sales Operations Supervisor to one of the most unique segments—Federal—where I cover the Department of Defense for U.S. Army Programs and Agencies.
What do you like about your current role?
The challenges that customers and partners present to our team are always new and unique. I enjoy being able to overcome them through problem solving and working collaboratively with the coworkers on my team.
You recently became the new Chair for Pan Asian Council (PAC), tell us about the journey to that leadership position:
I took this as an opportunity to create a bigger impact on our members and coworkers and give back to CDW. Taking on a “volunteer job” on top of your day job isn’t easy, but I have a solid leadership team behind me. PAC leaders come from various business practices, but we’re able to act as one and undertake the challenges that come with these volunteer positions because we all believe in the notion that BRGs are FOR coworkers BY coworkers.
For those who are unfamiliar with PAC, can you tell us what it is?
We act as a representation and celebration of Asian culture, but it doesn’t mean that it’s exclusive for only those of Asian descent. Everyone from every ethnicity is welcome. Our mission is to provide an open platform for coworkers with shared interests to achieve their aspirations and drive competitive advantage for CDW.
PAC is also known for strong networking and collaboration with Asian BRGs from the Top 25 companies in Chicago. While we’re proud of that and are going to continue to maintain our relationships outside of the organization, we’re also taking this year to go back to our roots, focusing on more internal events, professional development programs and workshops.
We’re going to build a stronger foundation to support our members and coworkers to help them with their journey to success.
One of the great things about APAHM is that it recognizes so many different cultures and heritages. What food from your cultural heritage would you have people try?
I’m Filipino. It’s tough to pick a favorite, so would suggest trying everything! Filipino food is based out of Spanish cuisine since the Philippines was a Spanish Colony for 400 years. The country is composed of 7,000+ islands so there could be 7,000+ versions of the same “traditional” dish. The popular food I would suggest is pork or chicken Adobo.
What makes CDW a great company to work for?
Where do I start?! CDW’s core foundation and beliefs, passion to innovate new solutions, achieve the best possible outcome on every opportunity and challenge, the drive to pursue success, and the amazing teamwork that’s performed behind the scenes.
Even though the organization has so many different segments, teams, and departments, we still work as one big team to accomplish a mission. Challenges may occur, but those challenges can’t be resolved by one person; they’re resolved by every department. We know how to work together, to bring the Circle of Service to life. There’s never a dull moment—CDW will consistently challenge you to be the best version of yourself.
Learn more about CDW's Diversity & Inclusion efforts here.
May is designated as National Military Appreciation Month. This month provides not only an opportunity to say thanks to all those, past and present, who have contributed to the U.S. military, but to also recognize some of the military coworkers we are fortunate to have on our team.
We caught up with Kristy Burciaga (KB - pictured center), Account Manager; Jon Steckelberg (JS - pictured left), Partner Specialist; and Joshua Keller (JK - pictured right), Account Representative; who share the skills they transferred to their career, their proudest moments, and advice for those transitioning into a civilian career.
What skills did you acquire from military that you were able to transfer to your CDW career?
KB: I’ve learned how to be a better communicator through doing many briefings for my unit. This can translate over to customer meetings and presentations on the CDW side.
JS: The biggest thing that I took away from my time in the service is to be a good teammate. I led when I got the opportunity and I followed when I had to, but I always did my best to support my fellow soldiers and the mission.
JK: The military helped me restructure my life and develop a plethora of skills. If I had to select a few, I would say leadership, perseverance, organization, confidence and teamwork.
What moment or accomplishment from your military experience are you most proud of and why?
KB: I am really proud of having the honor to be a leader in the military. I’ve learned so many things about leadership from the military that have made me a well-rounded and more confident person.
JS: While on a training mission in Panama, I was flagged down by a soldier who was participating in jungle training operations (unrelated to my training) who needed help with an injured teammate. I drove my vehicle into the jungle to medevac the injured soldier and his team’s medic and get them back to a medical facility. I didn’t get any award for my actions, but I am proud that I was instrumental in helping when needed.
JK: My job training reservist was highly rewarding. The effect I was able to have on young Marines lives, both personally and professionally, as well as the projects I managed are my greatest sources of pride from that period of my life.
What advice do you have for someone transitioning from a military to civilian career?
KB: Don’t downplay the skills you’ve learned from the military and the things you’ve achieved on the military side. Most of those skills and accomplishments are more transferrable than most people think.
JS: Know how to apply your military knowledge to a civilian setting. A hiring manager may not understand military phrases and job responsibilities, so phrasing your experience in a way that they would is important.
JK: I am still learning some of this for myself, but I would suggest leveraging your experiences and values into your career. In regards to CDW specifically, the support structure here is amazing. Don’t shy away from seeking help or guidance across the organization. CDW operates as a team with open lines of communication. Any veteran or reservist that takes that into account should fit right in and acclimate well.
From community relations efforts to creating opportunities for veterans and providing internal resources like our Military & Allies Resource Council (MARC) business resource group, CDW is committed to supporting veterans and active military in the community, as well as the workplace. Our efforts to attract and retain veterans have been recognized by way of military friendly awards:
Interested in joining CDW's team? Learn more here.
In 1992, May was officially designated Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (APAHM), spurring the annual month-long recognition of Asian Pacific American culture in the United States. APAHM celebrates the contributions, traditions, history and cultures of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders while encouraging all Americans to learn about and appreciate the rich diversity of Asian and Pacific cultures.
Claire Ivory, a member of CDW's Pan Asian Council Business Resource Group, shares her traditions and thoughts on what APAHM means to her.
How do you celebrate your heritage during Asian Pacific American Heritage Month?
As a member of the Pan Asian Council (PAC) leadership team, we have a ton of great relationships with other Asian BRG’s in the Chicago area as well as the NAAAP organization. I like to attend as many APAHM events as I can to network and hear other leaders speak on their heritage and path within leadership.
How have your personal experiences shaped your life and career?
Through great mentors of mine, I learned early on to embrace my soft spoken approach to leadership but to also be sure I was communicating what I wanted. My approach has been two-fold: to lead by listening and observing and to create experiences in all my roles that I could be passionate about. My journey is constantly changing and I owe a lot to the people at CDW who have given me feedback, support and advice along the way.
What is your favorite thing about your culture?
I would say a tradition that I have created for myself is to go back to South Korea every 5 years to immerse myself in the culture. I know it will get harder as I get older but I hope I don’t lose sight of this!
Why is PAC involvement important to you?
PAC has been an important part of my leadership path at CDW. While I was in an individual contributor role, the platform allowed me the opportunity to build my leadership skillsets to prepare me for my (now) manager role. It has also allowed me to not only mentor other future leaders but also connect with Senior leaders within the company that I would have not otherwise come across.
What are you most proud of working at CDW?
I am proud of the inclusive culture that many coworkers and departments are constantly focusing on. You can see constant evolution to find new ways to get more diverse viewpoints within project groups or teams. I truly believe that if you work to increase diversity of thought, you can keep a company one step ahead of the competition. We have so many great leaders that work hard to continue this being a part of the culture at CDW!
CDW encourages coworkers of all backgrounds to take an active role in their own personal and professional development. The Pan Asian Council Business Resource Group seeks to support and further the careers of Pan Asian coworkers while exemplifying inclusion and impacting CDW’s business objectives.
Congratulations! You submitted your application, and now you’ve got the interview. To succeed in the interviewing process and land the job, it’s essential that you prepare ahead of time. Here are some tips that are sure to make you a standout candidate.
The advice has been said time and time again: dress for the job you want, not the job you have. Still, candidates have undergone interviews in jeans, t-shirts and other clothes not normally suited for the workplace and have found themselves shy of getting an offer.
First impressions and the ability to present yourself can be everything. Research shows it takes about 7 seconds for someone to develop a first impression, and the same goes for hiring managers when seeking the perfect fit. This first impression extends to both verbal and non-verbal cues. Smile! Make eye contact! Have a firm handshake and show the interviewer you are happy to be meeting with him or her. Managers want someone who is presentable and willing to take the necessary steps to succeed in their career.
Strategically research and take notes on the company. Utilize resources like the company’s website, peruse the latest earnings release if publicly available, review LinkedIn and Glassdoor profiles to get a better understanding of the organization’s background, and understand the company’s mission, vision, and values. Depending on the company, assess their products, services and markets served. From this information, you should develop a list of questions to ask the interviewer.
Prepare an elevator pitch. An elevator pitch is a succinct, 30-second persuasive sales pitch about yourself and why you’d be the best candidate for the role.
Review the job description and become comfortable talking about your skills, qualifications and resume and how they relate to the position you're interviewing for. When asked behavioral, resume-based and case questions, draw on specific examples from previous work experiences, internships and your education. You should prepare and practice responses to these questions by yourself or with a peer to feel comfortable and confident when it’s time for your interview.
Plan to bring extra copies of your resume, paper and a pen so you can write notes throughout your interview, although it should never become distracting. Do note, some initial interviews may be virtual interviews using video technology. Test your device and make sure the technology works prior to your FaceTime/Skype/Webex /HireVue interview to avoid any issues.
It is essential you arrive at least 15 minutes early to your interview. Whether you are driving, taking public transportation or Uber, factor in the amount of time it might take if there is traffic or detours to ensure you aren’t late.
You will most likely be meeting with the hiring manager and stakeholders for the role. Introduce yourself to your interviewer with a firm handshake and steady eye contact. Because it’s easy to feel nervous, do your best to relax and be yourself. When they begin asking questions, it is important to remember that your hiring manager is human, too and doesn’t want to make you feel any pressure with the questions at hand.
Interviews shouldn’t be one sided. The best interviews are a conversation, when both the hiring manager and interviewee connect. More importantly, the hiring manager wants to hear “your story.” Always have questions ready to ask the hiring manager at the end of the interview. By preparing 3-5 questions, it shows that you are interested in the role, the company and working with their team.
"As a candidate, take the opportunity to convey to your potential manager and the hiring team that you want the job and you want to be a part of the organization. It seems like a small thing to say, but when done authentically, it is often the difference between a job offer or a decision to go with another candidate who seemed more engaged in the opportunity to join the team," said Jon St. Peter, Senior Manager, Talent Acquisition at CDW.
Be sure to get a business card from the hiring manager and stakeholders. If you have your own cards, the end of the interview is the perfect time to exchange. Business cards give you the correct information of your hiring manager like their name, phone number, office and email address.
Expect to send a thank you note within 24 hours of your interview to the hiring manager. It is important to thank them for their time and consideration. If you made any specific connections during the interview, it may be helpful to reference them, especially if they are meeting many candidates for the role. "When you write a thank you letter (or don’t), you are demonstrating your follow-up skills and respect for the opportunity to interview. A follow up letter allows you to reiterate with thoughtful detail why you are a compelling fit for the role. If you met with several people, send them personalized emails. You can reuse a couple of the core elements, but take the time customize based on your conversations," shares Amy Rizzo, Manager Talent Acquisition at CDW.
When preparing for your interview, one of the most important pieces of advice is to
be yourself and believe in your achievements.
Confidence makes all the difference when you are looking to land the job. Hiring managers look for people who will make a positive impact on their team.
As part of our Together - The Power of Women in IT campaign, we asked CDW women: what advice would you share with women interested in or pursuing a career in technology? From coworkers in Sales to Integrated Technology Solutions to our Distribution Center, here’s what they had to share:
“Don't be afraid to take chances. Being a female in technology and at CDW, we bring a lot of great ideas, thoughts and energy to the table. Don't be afraid to do so. It's an exciting industry and it's always changing.”
- Kim Maziarka, Account Manager - SCC Partner
“Be a bit bolder to ensure your voice is being heard. And if you're worried about not knowing everything or not being the subject matter expert in that particular field, everything is constantly changing and moving forward. There's always an opportunity for new people to come in and to pursue those fields and to become the experts in those areas.”
- Sarah Gallatin, Manager - Distribution Support
“Do not give up. Make sure you hold your ground, make your stance and follow through on what you say. People sometimes test women to see if they really will make it through or if they really do have the guts and the skills, but as long as you follow through on what you say, you will come out as a star and successful.”
- Parita Kanevskiy, Program Manager - Product & Partner Management
“Jump right in. This field is one that is so exciting. It is changing every single day and it really impacts people's lives. Technology changes how organizations work with their customers. Technology changes how healthcare providers serve their patients. We’re impacting the way people live their lives. And to be able to be a part of an industry that's ever changing that has real impact is something that I find exciting. So, my advice is jump right in, find a great mentor and don't look back.”
- Katrina Williams, Director - Integrated Technology Solutions Capability
“Embrace technology and its complexities with an open mind. Be ready to bring your curiosity and investment in time.“
- Charlotte Lewis, Senior Manager - Business Process Transformation Solutions
“Don’t underestimate what you can do and what impact you can have across your team and the organization. Our largest roadblocks are the perceptions we have of ourselves, and this affects our ability to achieve our goals. Be your biggest cheerleader!”
- Seli Cerda, Manager - DevOps Engineering
“Surprise someone every day. This philosophy has been good to me, and earned me praise and respect from the people with whom I work. Information Technology can be uniquely challenging in its unpredictability. So when I am working on a difficult problem and get to a point I just have to take a break, I will go on the hunt for a surprise project. Maybe I will dig through my old emails and find something to follow up on, or maybe I'll take a few minutes to read an article that someone else shared with me, then give them feedback. Or maybe I will follow up on a project that closed months prior just to make sure everything is still working as expected. I love to hear back from someone who wasn't expecting this check-in, but I love it even more when they mention some small thing that takes me just a few minutes to fix, so I can go back to my "roadblock" project feeling invincible.”
- Anne O’Day, Senior Systems Engineer
We are better together.
CDW is committed to diversity and inclusion and empowering women to pursue a career in technology. We believe in the power of people. When we collaborate together, we build stronger coworkers and better teams who deliver the best results. Learn more at cdw.com/Together.
According to a 2017 Gallup poll, 85 percent of Americans aren’t engaged at work. For most of us, finding a job we like — much less love — seems like an unrealistic dream.
But Sho Shanker, Principal Consultant at CDW, has the kind of passion for her job that would make anyone jealous. She finds a genuine joy in staying up at night thinking about how to solve a problem, and she wakes up every morning excited to work with her supportive team. At CDW, she has managers who let her try on new roles, a business resource group for women that helps her develop her career, and (a lot of) time to read for pleasure (wait until you see her reading list!).
Shanker shared how she’s not only thriving in her career — despite the all-too-common gender bias in the tech industry — but how she stays happy while doing it. She also shared how she keeps her workday organized and relatively stress-free while giving us her best advice for women working toward their own career goals in an industry with a male majority.
How long have you been in your current role, and what were you doing previously?
My first role out of college was Network Administrator. Six years ago, I started as a Consultant Engineer with CDW. From there, I progressed to become a Senior Engineer. Then, last year, I was made a Principal Consultant.
Tell me a bit about your current role. What are your priorities?
I’m a Principal Consultant. I design, implement and deliver Cisco Collaboration technologies. My focus is on video and adoption consulting.
Problem-solving and technology are two of my strengths, so I’m genuinely thrilled that I get to apply one to improve the other at work every day. Another reason I’m thrilled to get out of bed every morning is our exceptionally brilliant Collaboration team.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in being a woman in tech?
Gender Bias. Most of the people I interact with are wonderful, logical and sensible. On occasion, I do come across someone who has a strong gender bias. It doesn’t matter what credentials I have or how sound my design is: In their minds, I am less credible.
How has CDW been particularly supportive and helped you overcome this challenge? How is the sense of support you’ve felt reflective of CDW’s overall culture/policies?
By design, I’m an outspoken, confident, outgoing person. But specifically, within CDW, I have always felt fearless.
CDW has several Business Resource Groups (BRGs), one of which is Women in Sales and Engineering (WISE). I’ve been an active participant since its inception. The value I get out of participating in the group is phenomenal as it consistently reinforces “The CDW Way,” our company’s code of conduct and business ethics. The piece of the code that resonates the most with me is, “We run our business with passion and integrity.”
What initially drew you to CDW? And what’s one of the most amazing things about your workplace that you didn’t learn until working there?
I was working with a consultant from CDW. The technological expertise and skill sets that he had blew my mind away. I wanted to be part of an organization that supports my career goals, gives the right environment to thrive and, most of all, where I get to be with my fellow nerds!
I didn’t realize how strong and powerful CDW is until I started working here. I was pleasantly surprised to find out about the multiple paths I could take, and the 360-degree encouragement I got. The most amazing thing though was to learn how approachable everyone is, regardless of their title.
How has CDW supported your career advancement?
First, there is a significant amount of autonomy (within reason) to pursue my career goals. While I was hired for collaboration, I was interested in routing and switching in the beginning. I recall my conversation with my then-manager. He encouraged me to work on collaboration and also dabble in route and switch, and assured me that if I felt as strongly 6 months later, I could switch. One week in, I knew he had made the right choice in hiring me for collaboration. He saw something before I did, but was willing to let me choose what really moved me.
Second, there are plenty of opportunities to sharpen the skills that relate to your core expertise.
A few years in, I realized that it was fascinating to work with video technologies. I was willing to put in the blood and sweat to become the SME (Subject Matter Expert).
There is also a strong internal community. I’m part of a few unofficial study groups, home lab fanatics group, a coding group and certification spaces. No matter how you define career advancement, CDW has a way to work with you.
What are three things you make sure to do each workday before you disconnect?
I reflect on what went well and what is repeatable, take stock of what didn’t and think about how I can make that better tomorrow. I also review my Google Keep list to be better prepared for the next day. Sometimes, that means I get to lab something up overnight, other times I read up on white papers that particularly pique my interest.
What’s something you’re especially good at in your job?
Creative problem solving and a genuine passion to make technology work for our customers are two of my strengths. I cannot put it in words how much satisfaction I get in those “Eureka!” moments of problem solving, or staying up all night to get a solution to do precisely what my customers want. It is a warm fuzzy feeling. I would probably do it even if I didn’t get paid to do it.
What about outside of work?
Over the course of time, I’ve realized that there are some things that move my soul. I’m into insane organization, meditation, yoga, spending quality time with my canine overlord, whipping up something delectable from simple ingredients, seeing the local community at the weekly farmer’s market, playing beach volleyball, and connecting with people. All simple things!
What are you currently reading/watching/listening to?
In addition to reading technology blogs, I listen to Hidden Brain, Babbage, TED Talks, and Singularity.
On a personal front, I’m reading “A Crack in Creation” by Jennifer Doudna & Samuel Sternberg, “Blink” by Malcolm Gladwell, “Better than Before” by Gretchen Rubin and my favorites “Tao of Seneca” and “Enchiridion by Epictetus.”
What’s the one career move you’ve made that you’re most proud of?
I had to think about this one. I value every single decision that I have made, because it got me here. And here is an amazing place to be.
Surprisingly, the one I’m most proud of is the time when I said “no” to an opportunity that seemed exciting and offered a better pay. I analyzed the opportunity and realized that it was not my path to happiness. I’m happy when I’m challenged, supported and given the space to grow — none of which would have come from that opportunity. Bonus: I learned how to say “no” when necessary.
What’s the most memorable piece of career advice you’ve received?
The first thing that comes to my mind is something my sister said: “If you are not happy about something, change it.”
That seems very simple, yet it is extremely powerful. When I’m not happy about the way I’m solving a problem, I ask for help. When I don’t feel happy about the work day, I find out what is making me unhappy and address it. If I find that I’m not happy about how I handled a situation, I prepare better the next time.
What’s your #1 piece of advice for women who are pursuing careers in technology, or in other industries that tend to be dominated by men?
Whatever you do, give it all you got. Invest the time and effort to become the subject matter expert. Speak deliberately and show that you own your domain. Be fearless!
This article originally appeared on Fairygodboss.com and is republished by CDW with permission.
Fairygodboss & Sho Shanker
Not everyone can say they work at a company that’s making strides to be a leader in empowering women. CDW coworkers are a rare exception, though. The company’s Women’s Opportunity Network (WON), a business resource group (BRG), is on a mission to help CDW foster an inclusive culture where women are actively engaged and can realize their fullest career potential. By providing resources and facilitating connections, WON is laser-focused on ensuring that women at CDW succeed, while also driving the company’s key business objectives.
If you think this sounds too good to be true, we hear you. To get a sense of what this group actually looks like, and how they go about walking the talk, we checked in with WON’s Board of Directors. Christine Holloway, VP of Healthcare Sales and WON Executive Sponsor; Hilary Malina, Senior Counsel and WON Co-Chairwoman; and Tara Barbieri, Director of Capture and WON Co-Chairwoman filled us in on how WON is transforming women’s career experiences — and also shared their No. 1 piece of advice for job seekers.
How and why did you first get involved in CDW’s Women’s Opportunity Network?
Christine Holloway: I have a passion for the development and advancement of women in IT and at CDW. I was impressed with the level of commitment and investment from CDW’s executive leadership (both men and women) to this BRG, so I was confident that the time I was investing would be taken seriously and have an impact.
Tell me a bit about how the Business Resource Group (BRG) works.
Hilary Malina: WON is our largest BRG with a board of directors, executive committee sponsors, and six committees. We have five committees that focus on planning programs and events throughout the year, each with a different focus area and target audience, plus a logistics committee.
Our three goals for 2018 were to:
Events and programs vary over a broad range, and have included speaker panels, trainings on a variety of business topics, networking events, a business-focused book club, a quarterly newsletter, and charitable events. Between the committees and the board, we consistently run over 30 events and programs each year, including our signature event, our annual Women’s Summit providing a full day of professional development for approximately 200 coworkers each fall. Our committees are required to align each of their events and programs to one of our three strategic goals, so that they are producing maximum impact.
What has WON accomplished that you’re most proud of?
Tara Barbieri: In 2018, we made a deliberate effort to partner with other BRGs at CDW and host combined events. Every other affinity group also includes women: African Heritage Network, MARC (military & allies), ABLE (focused on supporting differently abled coworkers), and so on. We saw this as a way to both support broader inclusion efforts throughout the organization and provide impactful content to women who aren’t necessarily members of WON.
What’s the #1 thing you think your colleagues should know — but probably don’t know — about CDW’s Women’s Opportunity Network
CH: The Women’s Opportunity Network drives results. There are numerous examples of women who have become better at their current job, better prepared for their next role and successfully earned that new position, and have remained CDW coworkers because of the value and relationships formed from being a part of WON. All of this makes CDW a stronger, more successful organization. Additionally, because of the investment made in WON and the results it drives, CDW has earned recognition for being a place that supports and promotes the advancement of all people, including women.
What’s your #1 piece of advice for women who are looking for jobs right now?
CH: Consider positions that will broaden your experience and add value to an organization, not just those that are the next level up. Truly great leaders have a both broad and deep expertise. And when you’re interviewing for the position you want, make sure you speak about your accomplishments and the results you achieved in quantifiable terms. Leaders want to know that you can focus, prioritize and achieve measurable results.
HM: Don’t underestimate the power of creating and using your network when looking for a new job.
TB: With the unemployment rate being pretty low, job seekers these days might have more options and even multiple offers. Before starting to interview, write down the elements of a role or company that are most important to you to avoid getting wowed by a cool perk that you hadn’t expected. Rate the companies and leaders you interview with on a scale so that when you’ve got more than one offer, your objectivity informs your eventual choice.
This article originally appeared on Fairygodboss.com and is republished by CDW with permission.
Has there been a time when you felt that you couldn’t be yourself at work? A time when you felt that if you showed who you really were to people, they wouldn’t accept you? Well I have felt that way before, and I’ve heard from many others who have felt that way too. After some time, I am happy to say that I can be my authentic self at CDW. Throughout my career, I’ve learned that to build trusted relationships, people need to get to know the real you. When I started to open up and allow people to know who I am, I felt accepted and more comfortable in my environment. I realized, it’s ok to be different—that’s why it’s so important to celebrate diversity.
One of the ways we celebrate diversity at CDW is through our Business Resource Groups (BRGs). I am the Co-Chair of CDW’s Black Excellence Unlimited (BeU) BRG, which strives to create an environment where coworkers can confidently be themselves and be welcomed by others through coworker support and inclusion. BeU’s mission is to provide resources and development opportunities for CDW’s Black coworkers that enables them to achieve excellence and have a positive impact on our customers and community.
We want this group to be a reminder to everyone that it is ok to be your authentic self, both in and out of the workplace.
During Black History Month, BeU will host a variety of activities and events under the theme “The Excellence in You.” We want to create opportunities for our members that will help them bring out the excellence within as we celebrate the month’s significance and jumpstart 2019.
We’ll kick off the month with events that showcase some of CDW’s Black leaders as they share their journeys to excellence and career success. Events throughout the month will be centered around professional and personal development, networking and celebration of our mission. Our signature event, “The Journey to Excellence,” will provide coworkers with the opportunity to learn about Black History Month, hear from our keynote speaker, Marc Morial, President of National Urban League, and exposure to CDW’s leadership.
While BeU is hosting several events to make an impact on our coworkers, we’ll also be impacting our communities by hosting a month-long book drive at several of our CDW locations across the U.S. Our goal is to collect over 1,000 coworker-donated books that will be given to under privileged children.
The Black History Month activities and events will be a great start to our year and set the tone for a successful 2019 – a year to grow, to make new connections, celebrate success, and feel confident in being your authentic self. With everything we do, we strive to create a community within CDW and help coworkers perform at the highest level in their roles. I’m excited for the future of BeU – the opportunities it will offer CDW’s Black coworkers and the commitment to diversity and inclusion it represents for all CDW coworkers.
Don’t forget to BeU and be excellent today!
Get to know all of CDW’s Business Resource Groups and their missions here.
Qiana is a Sales Manager at CDW, supporting the development of new sellers through our Residency Program. Qiana is also the Co-Chair of CDW’s Business Resource Group, Black Excellence Unlimited (BeU).
Now is the time of year when you’re either evaluating internship offers, or just getting started in your search. Internship opportunities are extremely competitive, and for many students the process may seem more challenging than promising. Here are some reassuring steps to give you a competitive advantage.
As recruiters, we are looking for students who are involved in activities outside of just going to classes: volunteering, sports, student organizations, Greek life, part time or full time jobs, all of which demonstrates your time management skills plus your drive and initiative.
Are you active on LinkedIn? With over 467 million members worldwide, it is one of the most popular social networks in terms of active users. Engage with connections to increase your visibility—you never know what connections can get you closer to that internship. Attend company events hosted at your university or college to make in-person connections with recruiters. Being able to put a face with a name will give you a competitive advantage. Make sure to follow up with the recruiter immediately after the career fair so that you can stay top of mind. Be sure to follow their advised steps when completing the application process.
Maybe you've made it to the interview process, but have no idea what to expect. While processes vary by company and industry, it is important to be familiar with behavioral based questions—those tell me about a time, specific questions— more than 70% of Fortune 500 companies use these questions to identify your future success if they were to present you with an offer. These questions require preparation and can best be answered utilizing the STAR method.
Selling yourself should be the easiest step in receiving an internship offer. As recruiters we are interested in your accomplishments, awards, your involvement, and most importantly what value you can bring to our company.
Stay positive and be confident in your abilities. Companies are looking for you just as much as you are looking for us.
Learn more about CDW's Summer Internship Program here.
Melanie is a Campus Recruiter on our Talent Acquisition Team and supports our diversity efforts on campuses across the U.S.
Recently, I attended the Unconscious Bias and Inclusion Practices in the Workplace event. This event was sponsored by the Alliance for Business Leading Equality (ABLE) which is a Business Resource Group here at CDW. Over 80 coworkers across various CDW locations met and took time to enjoy lunch and network before Lora Laverty, CDW Sr. Corporate Counsel and ABLE Co-Chair, opened the event.
Lora began the presentation with a recent story where she learned a personal lesson – was it because of a bias she wasn’t aware of? That was the reason we were all there. This drew in the crowd. Lora then introduced the main speaker, Stephen Cornejo of Allstate, who began the main presentation. Stephen discussed how to recognize social stereotypes about people outside of our own conscious awareness. He went on to talk about how we need to be aware of our own biases and walked us through the “cognitive illusions” going on in our brains.
We broke into small groups for discussion on personal experiences with bias – either a good or bad assumption made about you or an incorrect assumption you made about another person. As a large group, some coworkers then shared their examples. One coworker shared how she was asked where she was from and when she responded “Greenwich,” her professor assumed she had come from money and made a comment about this. Not everyone from Greenwich, CT is from money and this assumption made the coworker feel both frustrated and uncomfortable.
I learned a lot during this event and hope other attendees did too. The takeaways from this event were: 1) recognize our biases and when we are most susceptible to unconscious bias and 2) actively work to interrupt them.
Sometimes we need to stop and think about things just a moment longer or challenge ourselves as to what we are really thinking to make the right decisions.
I look forward to learning more about #ABLE and the events they will be doing to celebrate inclusion here at CDW. #inclusion #unconsciousbias
Ericca is a Manager, Enterprise Information Management at CDW and a member of our Business Resource Group, ABLE.
When you think about networking, what first comes to mind? An “icky” networking event, working the room, perhaps even a used car salesperson? It’s these images of networking that can drive people to avoid it all together. This would be a great mistake for you and your career! There is no question that developing a network is extremely important to professional success. Merriam-Webster defines networking as “the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business.” But how do you cultivate productive relationships that will help your career? First, don’t think about it in traditional terms. You must think more expansively and find a way to make it your own. Some phases to think about:
Identify your network
Everyone has a network. Think broadly. Your network not only consists of business colleagues from your current job and past positions, it also includes family members, people from the neighborhood, people from school, etc. Take a few minutes and write down the top 5-10 people that you most like, most connect with, that could most help you professionally. This exercise can help you to identify some people who you should reach out to for lunch or coffee to strengthen your relationships, and prevent them from going dormant. Most importantly, think about what you have to offer them -- as networking, when done right, is about connecting with people you like, that you can help that can help you, too.
Build your network
It is critically important to build both internal and external networks of people who can help you, advise you, and advocate for you within the workplace. Here are a few thoughts on how to accomplish this:
Use your network
Do not be afraid or embarrassed to use the network you have. While the hire decision ultimately should be based on qualitifications, hiring managers appreciate input from someone they trust, and may be more apt to consider those candidates before looking at the resumes of unknown strangers. It turns out, according to research done by LinkedIn, that it’s weaker connections that lead to job connections, so keep this in mind – you never know where that opportunity will come from.
When I think about my 20+ year career, many of my job interviews happened after someone I knew referred me to the hiring manager. In one case early in my career (pre-CDW), when I sent my resume initially, I did not get a call back – but when that same resume was sent by a family friend that was a trusted colleague of the hiring manager, I got an interview and ultimately the job. It didn’t get me the job, it just made sure I was seen and considered.
This advice does not just apply to new roles – it also applies to new experiences and assignments.
If there’s a new skill you want to learn, a department you want to shadow, a project you want to join, or a technology you are curious about – use your network to find someone to help you get that experience.
If the request is reasonable, rarely will you be told “no” when you ask someone else for help. It’s human nature to want to help others, and often it’s flattering to be asked to teach someone about your area of expertise.
Networking is really just meeting new people and being open to new points of view – so get out there and get networking!
Hilary is a Senior Counsel at CDW and Chair of our Business Resource Group, Women's Opportunity Network.
Tampa, a cozy metropolis where our office is settled thirty seven floors up from the ground with nothing but grand expectations. From humble beginnings at our office’s launch in 2011, I feel tremendously grateful for the personal and career development that changed my life and led me into leadership at CDW.
I wasn’t always a Sales Manager. In fact, when I started at CDW in 2011, I only was excited to begin a career that would ultimately help pay off my student loans. Little did I know, that the foundation of CDW’s decades of success, infused with the culture of our Tampa team, created a home that I truly saw myself growing into.
That growth was attributed to the commitment of my Sales Manager and Sales Director who poured coaching, feedback, and encouragement into our team.
Their ability to get the best out of others and remain down to earth, caring leaders inspired myself and a number of my peers to pursue paths into sales management.
I loved our strategy sessions and their guidance while visiting customers in market. I loved the fun energy they brought to the office every day. I loved their eagerness to know what was important to me, and achieve my goals in and out of the office. The passion they had for their roles and their people sparked a new desire for my career path.
As a Sales Manager now, my favorite part in the role today is that moment when our Account Managers recognize their potential within our company; limitless. This occurs at different stages for each seller, and I love the responsibility to cultivate that attitude throughout its fruition. Working with them side-by-side to develop their skill set and build customer relationships is so rewarding. I love seeing the progression when Account Managers start working with clients for the first time through trust-building engagement, to become strategic advisers who influence the direction of organizations we know and purchases from ourselves.
While my time in Chicago carries on full steam ahead, knowing Tampa is searching for their next leader makes me eager for what lies ahead. There is such a positive power in that place where the next leader will get to have an influential impact on so many for years to come. We set the bar high when we moved thirty seven floors up, creating a line of sight over the state to capture Florida and beyond. Who else will rise up to the challenge?
Go for IT. Explore careers with CDW.
Alex is a Sales Manager at CDW and leads a team of Account Managers to grow their business and solve our customers IT challenges.
My first exposure to cultural awareness began 20 years ago when my family and I moved from ethnically diverse Orange County, California to a small town in central Indiana. It was where the question, "where are you from?" didn't refer to where I had just moved from but referred to my ethnicity. For the first time, I realized I was culturally different--it showed--and mattered.
I graduated from a private high school with a class of 68 students, 2 of whom were Black and I was the only Asian who wasn't a foreign exchange student. When I went to college at Purdue, I had the opportunity to become involved with other Asian students that had similar experiences as I. And at that point, I was able to celebrate what had, until then, been differences--and it changed my college experience.
When it came time to find an employer, one of my needs was to find a company that had a strong culture of celebrating peoples of different backgrounds, which are represented across eight different Business Resource Groups (BRGs) at CDW.
I currently serve as the Chair for CDW's Pan-Asian BRG where 200+ members are enabled and supported to grow their careers and recognize Asian culture--May is the month celebrating Asian Pacific American Heritage all across the U.S. and CDW celebrates throughout the month and into June through our work with the National Association of Asian American Professionals (NAAAP) and other local corporations and non-profits. I’m so proud of our Asian Coworkers who’ve used our BRGs as a platform to lean into their careers and to CDW for making room at the table!
Now when I meet new people at events and I'm asked, "where are you from?" I say, "I'm from CDW!"
Above is a vendor partner of Vietnamese heritage that celebrated Lunar New Year in our offices with a product demo
Above is the annual Dragon Boat race that CDW's Pan Asian Council participates in with other Chicago-area Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) and BRGs
Kim is a Strategic Sales Tools Analyst at CDW and Chair of our Business Resource Group, Pan Asian Council.
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CDW is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer committed to a diverse and inclusive workplace. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regards to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability status, protected veteran status or any other basis prohibited by law. If you are an individual with a disability and need assistance in applying for a position, please contact us at Helpdesk-Recruiting@cdw.com.