Biography and Background:
Nicole Leona brings over 20 years of experience to her role as Director of Alliances where she is responsible for all aspects of Iron Bow's relationships with OEM manufacturers, suppliers and distributors. Together with her team, she cultivates sales growth through strategic and emerging partnerships, manages manufacturer sales and technical certification programs, and leads new partners through their onboarding process. Nicole is also a founding member of Iron Bow's Women in Leadership Group, a forum for women in senior positions within Iron Bow to connect and foster personal and organizational growth. Outside of her work with Iron Bow, Nicole is passionate about giving back to the community and programs that enable future generations to position themselves for success. She served on the Board of Directors of Alternative House (now known as "Second Story"), a Northern VA organization that offers counseling, shelter and neighborhood-based support. Currently, Nicole is in her fourth year serving on the Board of Managers at the Northern Neck YMCA. Nicole holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the College of Saint Elizabeth.
How have you personally helped advance your company's channel business over the past year?
Iron Bow Technologies is dedicated to successfully transforming technology investments into business capabilities for government, commercial and healthcare clients. To do this, relationships and agreements with leading and emerging technology vendors is critical. My most impactful project of 2017 was initiating and developing a multi-year RFP (Request for Proposal) to select sourcing for two of Iron Bow's largest OEM partners. My process began with soliciting requirements from internal stakeholders including Sales, Marketing, Finance and Operations to draft the RFP. My goal was for responders to offer best pricing and detail their support for Iron Bow's marketing, operational and technical needs. Responders were also asked to agree to specific terms and conditions, ensuring Iron Bow could continue delivering solutions to its clients at the best possible prices with the best possible support. Once the RFP was released, I organized an internal selection committee, responded to Q&A, hosted oral presentations for all bidders, and summarized all proposals, answers and orals into a selection matrix. During this effort, I continued my "day job" as Director of a team of nine (now twelve) supporting Iron Bow's strategic channel partners in business development, operations, and quoting and configuration.
What are your goals for your company's channel business over the next year?
It's always about growth, and this year, it's all about focus. I've asked my team to dedicate more time to our larger, strategic partners. To back this up, I fully support and continue to enable them to feel empowered to say "no" to anything that is not directly generating profitability or creating opportunities. I've also reorganized the team which added new roles, such as a customer success manager and a partner onboarding specialist to assist with increased operational support. Lastly, I challenge all of us to ask: what can we do differently in 2018 to drive growth and profitability?
What honors, awards, or commendations have you won over the past year?
As a leader, I spend less time promoting myself and more time encouraging and rewarding the people to whom I will pass the torch in the future. Through our internal Arrow award program, Iron Bow recognizes individuals that go above and beyond in support of the company's vision, mission and values. I'm proud that in the past four years, members of my team have been recognized six times. Prior to accepting my current leadership role, I was honored to receive an "Arrow Award" for my efforts on a bid which helped to secure one of Iron Bow's largest customers.
Outside of your family, please name a woman you admire and why:
I was recently intrigued by a short clip on Jeanette Rankin (1880 - 1973), the first woman elected to Congress. This was during a time when not all women were able to vote nationwide, yet in her position, she was able to vote (in Congress) on the issues affecting our country, including the country's entrance into World War I. I often find myself amazed at the opportunities women have today even versus one generation ago. We have women like Rep. Rankin to thank for that; for not taking "no" as an answer, and for demanding equality when things weren't equal.
What advice would you give your 16-year-old self?
Back then, I wasn't able to see beyond what was presented right in front of me, through school or the media. Women could be doctors or firefighters, but who really knew about IT or the channel? I would tell my younger self to dig a little deeper, research options and open up to more possibilities. This is part of my personal mission for 2018, to get more involved in educating young women. Showing them that you don't need to be a programmer to be in IT and there are many opportunities to make a difference in the world.
If you could master any new job-related skill, what would it be and why?
Social Media. I'm a little old school and this is still daunting to me. Whether in business or in personal life, we are all looking at online communities are saying about the company we want to do business with. To this end I recently engaged with my marketing dept. to develop a social media campaign and contest within my team to help us hone our online skills, embrace social media tactics and motivate us as a team to be better stewards of our company's value proposition in the online community.
What's the best book you read this past year and why did you like it?
The most impactful book for me last year was "Under New Management." The book presents some radical thoughts, such as doing away with email and PTO, and offering new employees money to quit. While successful application of any of these ideas varies on the heart and culture of the company, it drove me to take a hard look at how I manage and ask the question, is the status quo really working? And what changes can I make within my team and within my organization, to drive profitability, employee satisfaction, and success?
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