If you know the Microsoft partner ecosystem in Canada, you probably know Corinne Sharp. After getting her start in advertising, Corinne worked in a series of increasingly senior enterprise sales and leadership roles at GE and Microsoft. In 2012, she founded Sharp Perspective Inc., a thriving business-to-business consultancy that helps IT innovators in Canada and beyond build strategic alliances with Microsoft and grow their business through channel partners. We asked if we could interview Corinne, on camera and off, about her career experience.
You built a fantastic career, all at a time when men dominated the industry. How did you get your start in technology?
I was living in Calgary when I interviewed with Hamilton Computer Sales and Rentals. They wanted a female account manager, specifically. It was so early in my career that I didn’t understand why that was even a hiring criteria, let alone the significance of diversity. The business leaders were more progressive and wanted something different. They embraced diversity and benefited from so many amazing women in that company.
Did other women help you?
Absolutely. I have seen throughout my career that women hire women. Women support women. Unfortunately, women still only represent approximately 25% of roles in the IT industry. The bar has not moved much, but I do see progress and more women engaging in STEM. They succeed and thrive in managerial and leadership roles. I love to see that!
So, what secrets would you share?
Embrace experiences! In today’s world, you don’t have one job, you have several. So, build on them. Think of them as milestones designed to unlock more opportunities in the future. Focus on the quality of experience you will gain from the job you take on, including opportunities for mentorship.
Yes, young women—all young professionals—should seek out mentors. Look for guidance from people with unique experiences to share who have your best interests in mind. And don’t seek mentorship from other women only please. Mentors come in all shapes and sizes. You should have mentors on every side of the organization you join as well as outside your company. This also becomes part of your networking strategy.
Yes. Whether you’re 20 years old or later in your career, you should build and nurture your network. You’re going to need lots of assistance from people! The network you build through business alliances will serve you well. For example, to launch my business, I called on a network of experts for advice, insights, and contacts. In fact, they became my first clients and references!
Any other business secrets?
Be fearless! Take risks, especially early on in your career. Try new things. If you dream of working for a company or organization, just go for it. Think like an entrepreneur. Be bold. You have nothing to lose, so take that leap of faith. I worked in big corporations for many years, but here I am today, with my own business working with start-ups and large organizations like Microsoft. I am the President of the International Association of Microsoft Certified Partners and the President of the Canadian Channel Chiefs Council. All great experiences and an opportunity to continue to build my network.
Thank you, Corinne Sharp, for sharing your thoughts. Readers–do you have any questions for Corinne? Do you have secrets you want to share? Feel free to comment here below.