Dawn Ambrose Interview

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“My name is Dawn Ambrose, I’m a Channel Director at Kenna Security, headquartered in San Francisco. My job is helping our partners understand Kenna and the problems we solve for clients, so it’s developing business; new business for my partners, and new business for Kenna.”

Q: Describe what it’s like being a woman in leadership.

A: It’s exciting and rewarding. When I first started my career in tech more than 20 years ago, there were very few women in IT, let alone female leaders. Women working in IT have come a long way over the decades and while still not enough of us are leaders, you see a lot of women in sales, channel, marketing and even some in engineering. Nearly all women in IT attribute their success to having a mentor or sponsor do I think it’s important for women in leadership to keep mentoring and helping others, women and men.

Q: What are your biggest barriers as a woman in tech? How do you overcome them?

A:  I read recently that only 10% of women in tech actually hold executive level positions, which is crazy to me. There are so many smart and hard-working women out there who deliver results. I also read that less than half of those women actually want to pursue a leadership role. When you think about barriers, I believe that one of them is covert competition so my advice to women is to find friends at work. Studies show that having a peer group is the most important and critical asset to knocking down barriers. I’m incredibly blessed to be a part of a group that meets on a regular basis. We share intel, insight, tips and tricks, and we really mentor each other. We don’t compete. We are actually all in the same type of role but instead of holding back or being afraid there are only enough jobs for a few of us or something, we really elevate each other. When you think about knocking down barriers it’s all about finding good people.

Q: How can men be allies to women in their workplace?

A: I believe it goes back to seeking out those mentors. As a woman, you’re going to know which men in your workplace want to help you. Look for the men who are willing to teach you, that are willing to support, and sponsor opportunities for growth and advancement. I believe that men want the same success that women do, it’s all about getting the job done and seeing the results. Look for men at all levels that have the same principles, talk with them, share your goals and aspirations, ask for their help.

Q: Tell us a story of the time in your career that you’re most proud of.

A: I’m really fortunate to have several proud moments. None of them more special than hearing from someone that I mentored or somehow helped along the way. A story that comes to mind is one of a man who reached out to me years later and said: “all the things that you taught me really helped me along my career path, I am doing what I do today because of you.” Just being able to give guidance to people or help them close a deal, get a promotion or their dream job is the kind of stuff that I get really excited about.

Q: What piece of advice would you give to your younger self?

A: Slow down, smell the roses, not everything needs to come all at once.

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