Back My career in IT
Michelle Sitek is a business development manager at SHI, who spends her time looking after clients, driving new business, and securing sales. Originating from Michigan, Michelle started her career in the IT channel by answering a newspaper ad for a maintenance renewals job at Midwest Business Systems. Through this role, she quickly fell in love with the industry, and it spurred a move into an inside sales role. Michelle has subsequently worked as a software trainer, before joining SHI in 2006 as a business development manager, then moving to Britain to work with SHI UK in 2009. Her relationship with the IT industry grew deeper in more ways than one when she met her husband - Michael Watson - who is now her colleague and teammate, working on the same accounts together.
As a woman working in a predominantly male industry, Michelle has had to overcome many unique challenges during her career in IT. She believes that exuding confidence, backing your own abilities, and treating others with respect is the best way to enjoy a successful career and create a healthy environment to work in. According to Michelle, this approach is not solely applicable to women, but people in general. If she was speaking to her younger self, Michelle would advise that you don't need to know everything, you just need to believe in your own ability.
While she started out trying to memorise configurations of boxes and understand how networks operate, she thinks that instead, you just need to be confident, know enough about what you're selling, and lean on your resources, knowing who to go to internally when you need help. Michelle also recommends having a positive attitude, in order to start each day off well and earn the trust of your customers and colleagues.
“Begin the day really positively and you need to earn your customers and your colleagues' trust. Learning to listen, to be honest and to be open are important qualities not just in the IT industry, but in all walks of life.”
This mindset stems from a conversation Michelle remembers having with her manager on her first ever day in the IT channel. He called her into his office and told her that there's a lot of old school men in the IT industry, who could show prejudice towards women or be difficult to work with. Michelle’s manager advised her to be confident and to always look these men in the eyes. He helped her to practice shaking hands, teaching her to have a very firm handshake, which demonstrates confidence.
Thankfully, Michelle has only ever had one negative experience during the course of her career, when a male customer was too forward with her. Michelle immediately reported it to her manager, who rang up the customer's manager and within a week she had an apology letter from the president and from the man in question. Despite this incident, Michelle feels she has always been treated with respect, as a result of being confident with the way she interacts with people.
Now working at SHI, Michelle is proud of the fact that she works for a company with a female president and with many of the executive roles filled by women. She believes that, due to SHI’s 45/55 gender split, all staff are treated equally.
Michelle is currently a finalist for the CRN Sales Employee of the year (reseller/solution provider).