By: Kristine Stewart, Vice President, Client Success
From leading CompTIA’s Advancing Women in Technology (AWIT) community to serving as a partner strategist for today’s top technology brands, Cristina Greysman has done it all in her 20 years in the IT channel. I sat down with her recently to discuss her remarkable career path and find out what drives her to nurture career growth for others in our industry.
Q: How did you break into the channel and what has your career progression been like leading up to today?
Cristina: Right after graduating college I co-founded a web design firm. Our solution was anchored by IBM’s e-commerce engine and I was in charge of our IBM partnership and our agreement to resell their software and servers as part of our offering. I’ve been involved with the IT channel ever since, working in a variety of roles with SaaS startups and system integrators. Eventually, I went bigger and took on channel leadership positions with larger vendors such as SunGard and SAP. Drawing upon my experience on the partner side, I’ve been able to offer the vendor community a fresh perspective on what it takes to build a successful channel business model. While channel partners haven’t always gotten the empathy they deserve, it’s exciting to see that, today, the conversation has shifted.
Q: How would you define your leadership style?
Cristina: A lot of what I know about leadership comes from the sports coaches I had as a kid. The coaches I performed the best for taught me how to be successful at performing on my own. When it was time to race, I was the only one in the pool so my performance, while influenced by coaching, was really dependent on me. I take the same approach today in leadership. I seek to enable people to do the best they can, so they grow and become successful. I also believe that you can be a leader regardless of where you sit on an org chart or whether you have people reporting to you or not. Leadership is about coaching, mentoring, leading by example and inspiring others
Q: You may be best known in the channel for your past six years with CompTIA’s AWIT Community, which is now more than 1,000 members strong. How have you seen women’s role in IT change over time?
Cristina: Throughout much of my career I’ve often felt like it was my role to represent my gender – I’ve been the only woman in countless meetings. I remember a business lunch at a restaurant in Philadelphia and I was the only woman patron in the entire building. I’ve experienced men taking credit for my work, I’ve been talked over and I’ve been dismissed. I know many other women in our industry can relate. Over the years I’ve honed my professional skills, recruited mentors and coaches, and I’ve learned to contribute and deliver results in a collaborative manner that attracts people to my network. I’ve also recognized that what I’ve learned can help guide the next generation of channel executives, so I began sharing my strategies with others. When AWIT was established in 2012, I saw it as the perfect fit for me. I joined the community that inaugural year, serving on the executive committee until becoming the chair in 2018. The way I see it, women have come a long way in the IT channel, but there is much more work to be done. I’m proud of our efforts at AWIT to influence change and I know we are making a difference.
Q: As the chair of AWIT, what are your top three goals for the community?
Cristina: At the top of the list is recognizing more women in our industry for their technical roles, for example, through the AWIT Spotlight Awards. Knowing that there is strength in numbers, another focus is bringing together a consortium of organizations – vendors, partners, and others — dedicated to advancing the careers of women in technology. We are working to achieve joint goals and initiatives and we are sharing insights, resources and more. We are achieving this through a web destination called AWITConnect.org. Lastly, we want to encourage women to really take an active role in their career advancement. Women have to make that personal investment. This is why CompTIA and AWIT have put so much content out there – webinars, podcasts and more – to provide women with tools and shared experiences to better understand the things that they’re feeling or going through. We want them to realize that they’re not alone, and our goal is to enable them to progress, achieve, and gain a sense of connection and hope for the future.
Q: What are your recommendations for other women in the channel?
Cristina: Get involved in communities that help you leverage your brand. Be visible: you are not going to advance your career hiding in your cubicle or in your home office. You’ve got to get out there, get involved and form relationships with others in the industry.
Full of insight and energy, Cristina is an inspiration to all who know her. In fact, she inspired me to join her on the AWIT community executive council this year. I look forward to collaborating closely with her to advocate for women in our industry.
This is a follow-up to our blog series focused on women who are transforming the channel. Go here to read the first blog post.