Biography and Background:
A seasoned executive with more than 25 years of cross- functional experience in business and industry, Beth Burnside is a strategic technology advisor for the small and mid-sized business community in Erie. The president of CMIT Solutions of Erie, an IT service provider for the small and mid-sized business community, Beth specializes in helping businesses use technology as a tool to meet their strategic business goals. Her office offers a broad range of proactive computer support, monitoring, and consulting services, as well as a quick response for when unexpected crises occur. The multiple award-winner has been recognized for her accomplishments as a start-up business, as well as her contributions to CMIT Solutions franchise system. Named to CRN Magazine's prestigious "Women of the Channel" list for the past six years running, Beth has was also awarded an Athena PowerLink mentor panel in 2011 and continues to pay it forward by being involved as a mentor to other women-owned businesses. Furthermore, she was awarded the first Wallerstein Grant from The Gerry B. Wallerstein Fund in 2012 and was listed on the inaugural list of Top 50 Solution Providers by CRN magazine in 2014.
How have you personally helped advance your company's channel business over the past year?
I am the founder of the company and I was personally involved in building the business from $0 in sales revenue to almost $1M today. It's been through my hard work and strategic direction that has driven the company from start-up to relative maturity with consistent growth and above average profitability.
What are your goals for your company's channel business over the next year?
Our primary goal is to increase top line revenue by 15% by adding new managed service clients, while at the same time retaining 100% of current clients. A secondary goal is expand our security-related products and services to ensure we have a portfolio of offerings that can meet the needs of our clients in the face of increasing internet-related threats.
What honors, awards or commendations have you won over the past year?
The highest commendations we can receive are from our clients. We strive to provide increasing value over the life of our client relationships-- we have some clients that have been with us since the very beginning. In 2016, we achieved a 4.99/5 on our client satisfaction benchmark survey and I created an advertising campaign that centered around the optional client comments that were submitted on our surveys. Clients commended us as: a delight to work with, never disappointed with the quality of care and guidance, unusually great service, unparalleled in our community..."
Outside of your family, please name a woman you admire and why:
I admire a woman I met through networking in our community named Janel Bonsell. She is the only female partner at one of our region's largest accounting firms. She is dedicated to encouraging and mentoring women business in our business community. She gives generously of her time to these efforts and she is currently the Board President of our United Way chapter.
What advice would you give to young women who want to begin careers in technology?
I would tell them that there is nothing at all about gender that should hold them back. In fact, it could be an advantage! I have never viewed my business career in terms of gender and I don't think the younger generation does either, so I'd be more likely to take gender off the table as a point of conversation.
If you could be any movie character for one day in real life, who would you be and why?
Elle Woods from Legally Blonde. Not only would I get to be a blonde for a day and live as someone almost completely opposite of myself, I would get to act out an old dream of being an attorney and doing so with grace, aplomb and humor while rising above stereotypes and exceeding everyone's expectations.
If you could travel to a city you've never been to before, all expenses paid, where would you go and why?
Although I am fairly well traveled, I haven't yet been to Asia. I would go to Mumbai, India as the first stop on two month tour of southern Asia. We have business partners located in India and I would love to get the full experience of their environment and culture. I am fascinated by the geography, the history, the religion, the languages and the culture.
Unedited Content Provided By Participants