Biography and Background:
Shelly Blackburn has more than 25 years of experience in the Telecommunications and Networking industry. For the past 18 years, Blackburn has held various roles across Cisco's Sales, Channel and Development organizations. Currently, Blackburn has responsibility for the Americas' Architecture and Engineering go-to-market channel sales strategies for Cisco's Collaboration, Security, Data Center and Enterprise Networking solutions. With a proven track record of increasing sales through the development and leadership of high-performing teams, she leads the enablement for over 20,000 partners. She also leads the Software and Solutions Innovation team, enabling the business of tomorrow through Cisco's ecosystem of partnerships. Prior to her current role, Blackburn held positions as a Systems Engineering Director in the Enterprise Sales Organization, an Engineering Strategy and Planning Leader, a Sales Business Development Leader and a Consulting Systems Engineer. Before Cisco, Blackburn held positions in Marketing and Engineering for Siemens and the State of Minnesota. Blackburn has a Bachelor of Science degree from Minnesota State University. She studied in the Master's program at St. Mary's University in Telecommunications. Blackburn is also a graduate of Women Unlimited National Program. And, is a key leader in the Cisco Empowered Women's Network.
How have you personally helped advance your company's channel business over the past year?
Shelly is responsible for accelerating go-to-market strategies and enablement across Cisco's entire Architecture portfolio for more than 20,000 partners. In the last year, Shelly and her leadership team enabled and prepared the Americas' Partners for the most significant launch in Cisco's history, the New Era of Networking, The Network. Intuitive. Cisco is transitioning its business to a more software- and subscription-driven model. Cisco reports that its most profitable partners are achieving at least 40% of their Cisco practice revenues from cloud, support, software licenses and other recurring sales. To assist in building, and enabling America's partners to grow their recurring revenue practices, Shelly created a Recurring Revenue center of excellence. In one year, this team has more than doubled the number of partners who have software lifecycle practices. To build partner capabilities to access new buying centers, Shelly is expanding her team and driving new go-to-market strategies to help engage Ecosystem partners including ISVs, IHVs, boutique consultants, and Industry partners to sell together with Cisco's established resellers to access new vertical budgets and drive exponential growth in Americas.
What are your goals for your company's channel business over the next year?
1. Help partners capitalize on our latest networking innovations and shift to more software-centric IT business models that not only provide recurring revenue, but also provide profitable customer application and services revenue. 2. To unleash the value of software for customers and create additional profit engines, we're helping partners build their own customer success practices. With our assets and tools, partners are discovering how customer success leads to greater customer loyalty and profitability. 3. We are helping partners sell beyond traditional IT buyers and equipping them to bridge to new buying centers and selling solutions to drive business outcomes.
What honors, awards, or commendations have you won over the past year?
The biggest honor I've had in the last year is the request to speak at multiple Women in IT symposiums. This request humbles me and provides me the opportunity to share my journey as an Engineering leader in a male-dominated field. Communicating the early years of my career jungle gym creates a chance to help others navigate their own. I have shared how incredible sponsors have taken chances on me and given me a platform to share my capabilities. It is a complete honor to be able to mentor and help other Women in IT excel.
Outside of your family, please name a woman you admire and why:
Kathryn Robinson, a previous colleague is someone I admire. I admire Kathryn for building her own business, but also for her authenticity, and willingness to help other Women succeed. Kathryn treated me like a peer when I was, in a hierarchal sense, a much lower grade than she. To this day, I continue to lean on Kathryn to help me identify my blind spots, gaps, and areas of focus. Kathryn is a part of my Board of Directors; she is my spar partner, my mentor, and my sponsor. The framework I have for mentoring young women is because of her.
What advice would you give your 16-year-old self?
I would advise myself of the following: perseverance, kindness, and a collaborative spirit are key to your success. Be open-minded to try new things. Learn the game, know the rules, be coachable, assess your impact, document your success and pass it on.
If you could master any new job-related skill, what would it be and why?
This year I had the opportunity to do my first press interview. While this opportunity was great, I quickly realized that this is a skill that I need to enhance and eventually master. In my role, it is critical to be able to articulate Cisco's differentiation to this vital audience. I look forward to continuing to grow this skillset.
What's the best book you read this past year and why did you like it?
The best book I've read this year is a book that I've read many points in my career. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni is a book that a leader can use throughout their career. As my team continues to expand, I use it to guide me in building a successful team. As described by Patrick, a successful team is a team that is vulnerable and gains the trust of each other. A team that is committed to each others success, with no fear of conflict and driven to hold each other accountable for results.
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