They take partner programs and make them better. They build partner relationships and make them stronger. They dream big with IT solutions, and they make them partner-friendly. They take the most challenging of roles and make them look, well… easy.

Each year for its Women of the Channel list, CRN selects leaders whose technical prowess, dynamic go-to-market strategies, and innovative business development have kept the channel moving into the future.

Among those are seven outstanding Citrix channel champions who each play a critical role in building #CitrixPartnerLove: Johnna Bowley, Donna Buffett, Jennifer Krystofiak, Patti Lewis, Elke Ringler, Silje Sundal and Polly Weiss.

women of the channel

Citrix and I are very proud of all of our professionals,” says Craig Stilwell, Citrix VP of Worldwide Partner Strategy & Sales, “but we are especially honored that seven of our channel leaders were recognized this year by CRN’s Women of the Channel as channel experts and visionaries.

Johnna Bowley, Managing Director of Global Distribution and Breadth

Johnna Bowley has pioneered the growth strategy behind Citrix’s partner-led sales. With over 20 years of cross-functional channel experience, she helped lead the way in enacting Citrix’s reinvestment in worldwide distribution, in leveraging strong regional partnerships and in reimagining the role that channel plays in helping the company scale beyond its historical customer community.

She credits the Citrix drive to re-invest and renew its commitment to its channel as a key driver: “The biggest global distributors in the world are now working with Citrix to build out a universal enablement, marketing and sales engine that will support our partners in their efforts to sell Citrix.”

Bowley’s outstanding efforts are why she’s been named to the 2017 Power 100, an elite subset of the Channel Company’s prestigious annual Women of the Channel list.

In the coming year, Johnna looks forward to delivering a sales acceleration platform that both expands and enhances partners’ ability and opportunity to sell Citrix into the mid-market—allowing customers to buy on premise, as a service through the Citrix cloud, or as a managed service from our partners.

To other women in IT, Johnna advises to be bold—and to “fail fast.” Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. “Learn from them, and move on.”

On a personal note, she admires former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt for championing human and civil rights and, most importantly, always showing courage in the face of unpopularity. Roosevelt once said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

“This is a quote all people—women or men—can live by, even today,” says Bowley.

Connect with Johnna on LinkedIn.

Donna Buffett: Director, Americas Channel Programs, Operations & Enablement

Recipient of the Q4 2016 Customer Excellence Award, Q4 Geo Area Leadership Award and Q4 Americas Sales MVP Award, Donna Buffett again adds the title of 2017 Woman of the Channel to her long list of achievements.

Buffett has focused resources on opening communication between both internal and external teams, bridging the gaps and streamlining how Citrix orders flow from end users to resellers to distribution. She looks forward to simplifying the current program offering, as well as making profitable programs and incentives easier to take advantage of.

An avid Pittsburgh Steelers fan, Buffett stresses the importance of thinking strategically in the corporate world, and knowing how your decisions affect not just your team but the company as a whole.

“Know the level of contribution the other players on your team are capable of contributing. Never forget to imagine where you could be next and how you could run that next initiative, job or team.”

Follow Donna on Twitter @dlbuffett.

Jennifer Krystofiak, Senior Manager, Worldwide Partner Enablement

As a Citrix rising star, and a 2016 Up & Comer, Jennifer Krystofiak is enjoying her second year being named as an honoree.

Her more than 11 years of experience in the channel are testament to Krystofiak’s talent at driving engagement between Citrix and strategic alliances. Her true passion? “Inspiring others,” she says. Dedication to her team is paramount—as is helping them sharpen their knowledge and skillsets to meet both their personal and professional goals.

Krystofiak has led the way on developing the productivity and profitability of Citrix partners and is designing enablement to help partners transition to the cloud—as well as transform their business. “Partners are a critical component to the success of Citrix’s strategy,” she says. “They need to have the knowledge, resources and tools for success.”

To that end, Krystofiak spearheaded a pilot program to provide a select group of Citrix partners with exclusive enablement on Citrix Cloud Services and direct access to product architects and engineers. The result? Real growth in partners’ Citrix Cloud pipeline and revenue— and a new vision for the broader Citrix Cloud enablement strategy for 2017 and beyond.

Who inspires her? Patricia Mundarain, executive director of ITWomen, whose mission is to increase the number of girls and women in the technology and engineering fields— and to provide professional development, student education and scholarships through a supportive network. “Mundarain’s passion for the work she does is contagious.”

Krystofiak herself hopes to encourage more women to rise to leadership positions in her field. “Be willing to try new roles,” she advises, “and be sure to give it enough time to really get a feel for it. Don’t give up too soon. Finally, work hard. All the time.”

Connect with Jennifer on Twitter: @JAKfiak.

Patti Lewis, Senior Director Global IBM Strategic Alliance

With 20 years’ experience selling services to the financial services market, Patti Lewis has a keen eye for building joint businesses with partner software and services. This year, her sights are set on creating an interactive community, supported by experts, to develop thought leadership and ideas. She anticipates an increase of 10-20% in pipeline development and technical enablement/certifications.

I believe that building a community is the best way to create the teaming atmosphere that will drive innovation and value to clients.

Her advice to young women in technology: pay attention to the details of products, solutions and especially the relationships—both inside and outside of your company. “Relationships are king and will be important in your career but not just external customers. You need to build them internally as well.”

Lewis says a former mentor encouraged her to be bold—not just in the big decisions like next level jobs, or making a move to another company, but also in the everyday moments. This spirit is exemplified in her favorite quote: “The wind whispers to the warrior, you cannot withstand the storm. To which the warrior replies, I am the storm.”

Bucket list destination: “Hong Kong. I’d love to learn more about what young women are doing to support the growth in technology and understand potential leadership roles in such a fast-paced economy. It seems like a very interesting blend of old and new.”

Connect with Patti on Twitter: @pattilewmannel.

Elke Ringler, Senior Manager Distribution, Citrix Systems

Elke Ringler’s passion for channel is evident in the remarkable results she achieved across Central Europe. She not only evolved the distribution engine across EMEA, but also aggregated a newly aligned Distribution Team that improved consistency, increased efficiency and achieved significant growth. She contributed to a global initiative that increased EMEA partner productivity and coverage across the EMEA Distribution Landscape. The relations Ringler has built with major distributors consolidated leadership and strengthened Citrix as a strategic vendor.

Ringler herself is inspired by historical figure Sophie Scholl, a German student and anti-Nazi political activist who was convicted and executed for distributing anti-war leaflets at the University of Munich. “I admire her for her braveness, stepping up and strong-willed to lead the change of a mindset. She showed that everyone can take responsibility, cause impact. Everyone has a voice.”

How has Ringler differentiated herself in a field where women are still a minority? She recalls the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.” She says being passionate about what she does is critical—but so is being herself.

“Stick to your values and be authentic in whatever you do. This includes allow keep being female; without showing emotions, you are not authentic.”

Ringler feels this determination to be genuine has provided the foundation for her accelerated success in sales. “Channel Business is People Business,” she adds. “People buy from people for people.”

Connect with Elke on LinkedIn.

Silje Sundal, EMEA Business and Partner Operations Director

During her decade in the IT industry, Silje Sundal has excelled at seeing challenges from different perspectives—from the local level to international. “I am always trying to find the right balance,” she says. Her analytical talents have contributed to her success with creating innovative solutions to any challenge.

This year, Sundal transformed her channel team to align more closely with the EMEA sales team. As part of the EMEA Channel leadership team, she has defined new roles, created new compensation plans, reset targets internally and externally, and delivered a business reporting framework.

She anticipates that business leaders will be better enabled to focus on the right things that achieve growth with our partners and our business. She looks forward to leveraging the Citrix partnership with Microsoft and ensuring cloud success with service providers.

Sundal actively participates in the Women in IT network in Norway—the largest in Scandinavia—an organization focused on engaging women to work in IT. Her personal heroes include Anne Gretland, who has led Women in IT for over 10 years “with a passion and engagement one can only admire—all done on volunteer basis.”

She encourages other women in IT to say yes to the challenges you get. “I’ve never regretted saying yes however scary or challenging it might have seemed. Leverage your network, focus on doing a good job, stay curious, develop and challenge yourself to learn new things and get experience in different areas.”

Follow Silje on Twitter: @sundalsilje.

Polly Weiss, Strategic Partner Manager

On any given day, Polly Weiss asks herself, “Who do I want to be?” and then does what it takes to make it happen.

Who was she this year? Weiss turned an underperforming team into top achievers. She gets inspired daily by supporting and mentoring others to stretch and achieve their potential. “I view tough times as an opportunity to lead and transform results.”

Weiss enjoys volunteering as a speaker with Women at Risk International and also created “Reddog Soup” with her husband where they cook and deliver soup to cancer patients and those grieving.

Over the past year, Weiss was a “Change Agent” who developed a new program called “Unleash the Power” to demonstrate to Citrix stakeholders and partners their mutual value. For driving the largest partner revenue in 2017, Weiss was awarded Citrix Americas Strategic Partner Manager of the Year at Citrix Summit. Her team drove 60+ on-site sales engagements between field sales and partners’ corresponding teams that produced significant new business and profitability—and launched the executive level relationship with the partner.

What’s next? “Enabling our partner to share the core Citrix message is key. Translating business value propositions into simple discussions accelerates growth.”

Who is her role model? Rebecca MacDonald, founder and leader of Women At Risk international (WAR). An American growing up in Pakistan among at-risk women, MacDonald fought human trafficking, abuse of women and sexual slavery. Through new micro-enterprises, she gives hope, vocational training and opportunities is a voice for oppressed women.

Her advice to young women who want to begin careers in technology? “Jump in and start swimming.” Weiss herself started in the public sector—and then became an overachiever selling technology solutions in an unfamiliar industry—all without a degree in business or computer science.

“Take the initiative to do things you’re not fully confident of or competent in. Fail, dust yourself off and keep moving forward. And regardless of what’s happened, never give up on who you want to be.”

Follow Polly on Twitter: @pinkwindow1.

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