One of our "Power 30 Solution Providers"
Location: Burnaby, BC
Number of years in current position: 3
Number of years involved with indirect sales: 15
Biography and Background:
Heather Schaan is the Vice President & General Manager of Microserve, one of Canada's leading IT solution providers. Her purpose in this role is to position Microserve for continued growth and success now and into the future, through strategic and operational leadership, growth planning, and continuous improvement across all aspects of the business. Some key areas of her responsibility include championing the strategic business planning process, strategic contract acquisition, marketing, and talent management. Heather has been with Microserve for 15 years and in her current role for 3. She has held various roles during her career in IT in areas including sales, proposal management, recruitment and business development. Heather has a B.CommH and MBA from Queen's University, was named as a CRN Woman of the Channel in 2015 and 2016, and selected by CDN as a Woman in Canada's IT Channel Honoree in 2016. Heather is passionate about the environment, human rights, and the advancement of women, children and youth. She has two beautiful little boys and aspires to raise them as staunch feminists and responsible global citizens. Her favorite thing to do in her free time is to spend time outdoors with her family.
How have you personally helped advance your company's channel business over the past year?
Over the past 5 years Microserve's business has almost doubled to over $90M in annual revenue; we've been recognized as a CRN Fast Growth Company and as one of Vancouver's 100 fastest growing companies, in addition to various other recognition. Growth at this scale is both exciting and challenging; it requires us to rethink and modify the way we operate to remain successful. As the VP & General Manager I've been a key contributor to both the achievement of this growth through my role in our strategic planning, key account acquisition, marketing, joint vendor planning, and operational leadership, and to adapting our business structure and operations to support this new business. I have led and participated in various initiatives to position the company for continued success into the future in areas such as talent management, IT/IS strategy, and communications, as well as the continuous review, modification and augmentation of our service and solutions portfolio to keep pace with the changing business and IT landscapes. A huge focus for me is growth planning and continuous improvement in all aspects of our business to make sure that we are positioned for continued success in the future.
What are your goals for your company's channel business over the next year?
This year Microserve is celebrating 30 years in business; my overarching goal is to position Microserve to be successful for the next 30. This year some of the internal areas I will be focusing on are succession planning and talent development, as well as operational optimization. Externally I will be focusing on securing key contracts, diversifying our business by growing relationships with existing clients and vendor partners as well as expanding into new market verticals, and continuing to offer a dynamic portfolio of services and solutions aligned with our clients' evolving business needs as well as technology developments.
What honors, awards or commendations have you won over the past year?
In 2016 I was selected by CDN (Canadian Dealer News) as 1 of 4 Women in the IT Channel honorees at their annual event recognizing the contributions and accomplishments of women in Canada's IT channel. I was also selected one of the CRN Women in the Channel for the 2nd consecutive year as one of the Power 30 Solution Providers which recognizes female executives whose insight and influence in their companies help drive channel success.
Outside of your family, please name a woman you admire and why:
I am a huge fan of Michelle Obama, I think she is a fabulous role model for anyone. She is a great spokesperson for women and all they can and should be able to accomplish, and she embodies female success through her own educational, professional and personal accomplishments. I love her focus on promoting physical activity and fitness in children, combined with the example she sets through her personal dedication to leading a healthy lifestyle. I'm always impressed by how well-thought out, articulate and impactful her words are, even on the most sensitive subjects.
What advice would you give to young women who want to begin careers in technology?
Sometimes society asks women to make themselves smaller, or softer, or prettier to conform to entrenched patriarchal ideas of how women should be and act. My advice is to not give into this pressure - don't let others define you. Find an organization to be part of where you can be yourself, and where you're accepted and valued for your ideas and contributions. Work hard, have confidence in yourself, treat yourself with respect and expect others to do the same. Set your sites high and believe in your ability to achieve the most ambitious goals.
If you could be any movie character for one day in real life, who would you be and why?
I would definitely be an explorer and travel back in time. It would be amazing to spend a day as Henrich Harrer from Seven Years in Tibet during his time in Lhasa with the Dalai Lama. To me this would be a fascinating place, time and culture to experience. I'm very interested in Tibetan culture and history and have had the opportunity to travel a portion of the Tibetan plateau, and to visit Dharamsala, the home of the Dalai Lama since 1960. It would be remarkable to experience Tibetan society prior to the Dalai Lama's exile.
If you could travel to a city you've never been to before, all expenses paid, where would you go and why?
I'd like to visit St Petersburg. I've heard such wonderful things about its beauty and architecture, its museums, and the history is fascinating. It's very tragic and romantic. I had the opportunity to visit Moscow several years ago, and it was one of the most interesting and historically rich places I've been. Reviews I've heard from people who've had the chance to visit both cities unanimously rate St Petersburg far ahead, and I've wanted to see it ever since.
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