Biography and Background:
Stephanie Ford has been in the communications industry for 24 years serving customers and partners in the Southeastern US since 1993. She began her career as an account manager for Bellsouth Mobilcomm and was later part of the first AT&T PCS launch team to introduce digital services in the region. She joined MCI (now Verizon) in 1998 where she specialized in conferencing and collaborations and early UCC solutions. She was responsible for large national and global accounts. While there, she assumed a leadership position in 2001 before taking on similar roles at Genesys and Polycom. Stephanie joined Mitel in 2011 and quickly expanded her coverage area to include the Caribbean. Her background in collaborative and mobile solutions has proven to be a strong foundation in a highly-competitive and rapidly evolving industry, where such solutions have become business critical and movement continues to mobile applications, applications in the cloud, 5G and IoT.
How have you personally helped advance your company's channel business over the past year?
Sales enablement was a top initiative for my team with respect to channel growth. As such, my focus was on driving education. I worked to help build understanding and expertise in emerging technology trends, particularly the impact of 5G, IoT and embedded real-time communications in applications aimed at improving workflow for vertical markets. My team also worked closely with our channel partners in the region to transition them from a traditional hardware/equipment-centric approach to selling cloud services. Initially, this can be a challenge for partners as they look for the best path forward through this growth strategy and begin to move their business model from a 100 percent equipment sales model to a mix of subscription and software/hardware or hybrid sales. Movement to the cloud has been prevalent over the year. With call control/voice as an application, we can no longer be tied to proprietary hardware platforms. We're working to guide our partners on the journey to "unlock" the cloud for voice and UC as they seek to become subject matter experts in this space, migrate their hardware and, in some cases, premises business, or combine the two platforms.
What are your goals for your company's channel business over the next year?
Rapid innovation is driving disruption in our industry, so we're working to ensure our partner community stays current in this space specific to UCC, contact center and mobility. Mitel's convergence, mobility and cloud solutions help customers capitalize on changes, bringing them technological advantages for solving today's business challenges. Work is something we do, not where we go. Convergence of voice, video, conferencing and collaboration, messaging, persistence messaging via streams, analytics and work flow integration onto a single IP platform with non-traditional forms of social communications is driving us to have different discussions and support our channel in different ways.
What honors, awards or commendations have you won over the past year?
I recently lost a well-respected colleague and sales leader named Reed Ellis. An award was created in his memory and I was honored by my management peers to be the first recipient. The Reed Ellis Professionalism Award recognizes distinguished leaders based on work ethic, selflessness, teamwork, leadership, attitude, presence, unconditional caring and other key dimensions.
Outside of your family, please name a woman you admire and why:
Madeleine Albright comes to mind among many women who have been trail blazers. I studied political science and history with courses in gender politics as an undergrad and this field still fascinates me. Madeleine not only set the tone for strong women in leadership roles today, both inside and outside of the government, she also paved the way during a time where there were few women in this space. She stood alongside some of the world's most powerful statesmen and held her own.
What advice would you give to young women who want to begin careers in technology?
There are two things women in our industry need starting out. The first is a mentor to provide professional guidance since there are fewer of us in this industry. Many of the successful women I've worked with have this in common. I've managed and mentored other women coming up in the technology world, and I believe the second important piece of advice is to have confidence in the unique skills they bring to the table. They don't need to conform because their diversity brings significant advantages to our industry in regards to how we approach solutions and solve problems.
If you could be any movie character for one day in real life, who would you be and why?
I'd choose to be Wonder Woman, in fact I used to tell my kids I was a superhero by day. There's a reason she's been an iconic figure for the last 50+ years. With her new, big screen debut, she stands shoulder to shoulder with her male-superhero counterparts. I love the image of a strong woman, plus it would be nice to have use of that plane.
If you could travel to a city you've never been to before, all expenses paid, where would you go and why?
I was fortunate to have grown up with a global upbringing and a passion for history and cultural diversity. My youngest child was born in small village in southern China, and my experience in traveling to Hong Kong, Nanchang, and Guangzhou left me with the desire to explore that part of the world more. There are still places in Asia that are on my wish list including Kathmandu and Bangkok.
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