Two Allbound Allstars, Gina and Tori, attended Women of the Channel West in May and came back filled with inspiration and excitement. One of the sources of inspiration was a particular speaker: Christy Meaney. Christy is a manager in channel development and field marketing at Cambium Networks. She’s a refreshing woman of the channel who unapologetically speaks up for what she believes in. Don’t miss her Allbound interview here:
“AS: Tech is a majority male workplace, with over 80%, how do you navigate being a woman in the channel?
CM: There are four different characteristics that I try to always have and it’s to be bold, walk in confidence, and when I say walk in confidence I really mean “fake it till you make it,” and choose to stay humble and kind. Confidence is something that grows in you over time, but you have to be bold to step out and say what you think and ask for what you want. To me, every time you put yourself into that situation where it’s “I’m scared to death but I’m going to do it anyway,” your confidence meter builds up.
The question of how do you navigate around men, the numbers are changing, but in my career, I’ve been either the only female or one of two and when you’re the only female in the room you don’t get a day off. How you gain that level of respect is to know your numbers and have the confidence to speak your mind when you have that data and can prepare. That’s what I tell people all the time, or tell females, when you walk into a room, even if it’s your first day on the job, do your best not to be a know it all but to at least have some stats and numbers because that’s how you gain respect. The other piece of the pie is choosing to be humble and kind. Women and men do really well in an environment where there’s mutual respect but unfortunately a lot of times you have to force that bridge of trust to be built.
AS: What makes you feel empowered?
CM: It’s corny, but it’s my daughter. It’s because I want so much for her, and love her so much that things that I’ve dealt with in my career, I don’t ever want those things to happen to her. So I’m always going to speak up, I’m always going to stay a part of the conversation, I’m going to stay in the workforce, I’m going to stay in the channel without feeling guilty because I missed tea time with Barney. That’s what empowers me to keep on moving, and it’s her. She’s just this little being that helps me achieve things today and know that I’ll achieve greater things in the future.
AS: What’s one piece of advice that you’d give to women who are looking to advance their careers in the channel, or are just starting out in the channel?
CM: Don’t forget to ask for what you want and what you deserve. Sometimes we don’t know what we deserve, or we feel like we deserve less and that’s not something I can fix in a day in myself. I have learned that you have to put on that Nancy Drew hat and figure out what the person to the left of you is making and you figure out what the person to the right of you is making because that sets the bar. For people starting out in their career, I will say, find that circle of trust. People that you can lean on. I can think back to people I worked with ten or twelve years ago that I still lean on today. With technology changes, the companies acquiring other companies, and people moving around, you never know when you’re going to need someone to have your back. Especially if you’re trying to further your career. Having people that you trust keeps you sane too. When you have that body of people that you’re moving with within your career it steers you to the next right place where you need to be.
AS: Do you have an example of a time that you overcame gender barriers in your career?
CM: I think the big one for me that stands out is pay. I’ve had to ask the question twice; I want to be paid as much as the men in the room. There’s a distinct difference between “I want a raise because I deserve it” and “I just want to be paid equally.” It’s two different things. When I first started my career, I was young and naïve and I found out that, I was one out of four or five men, and they all made more than me. I saw my manager and the lady that handled our accounts payable, I just walked over and asked the question: “what does it take to be paid as much as the other guys?” Obviously, they were taken by surprise and they were shocked. The response was “done, you deserve it, and we’ll make it right.” I could have been my own barrier by not asking. The other men were older, they had more years of experience but no one is looking to see “you’re doing well in your own career and you’re outperforming these men, I think you should be paid more or equal.”
The second time I should have been asking sooner, “I want a raise, I want what was promised to me.” The same thing happened, I found out the men made more than me, some of them double. I asked and was told “it doesn’t work that way in the real world. We only give 3-5% raises. That’s something you can build up over time. To get to that point where you’re making X amount.” I was given a 5% raise which I was grateful for, but something that my mom told me when I was younger that always stuck to me was to only stay in situations where you’re appreciated, not tolerated. There were a lot of uncomfortable conversations I had for a couple of weeks, but I’ll never forget when my manager said, “you should be grateful for the 5%.” I can be grateful and still want to be treated equally. So, thank you for the raise, I’m grateful for it, but my request to you is that you treat me equally. I’ve learned that I can’t find myself in that situation ever again.”