For Qiana Nelson, a Senior Sales Manager at CDW, occupying the role of mentor comes naturally. Some might even say she grew up as one.
“I have been an informal mentor for as long as I can remember,” Nelson shared. “The reason I say that is because I am the oldest of four girls, and I’ve always had to be a role model and a mentor to my younger sisters. So honestly, I think being a mentor and leader came naturally to me.”
And as a senior leader at CDW, Nelson has an outlet every day for helping others to grow and develop. It’s part of the reason she finds so much fulfillment in her job, and after 16 years at the tech company, she doesn’t see that changing anytime soon.
Recently, Nelson shared with Fairygodboss what it takes to truly integrate an ethos of mentorship into everything you do, how CDW supports her in that, and the No. 1 thing she thinks women should know about building a career at CDW.
Tell us a bit about your job. What’s your current role, and what did your career path look like prior to being in this role?
I’m currently the Senior Sales Manager for the Sales Academy. In this role, I lead the development of our sellers and Sales Managers to ensure they have the skills needed to successfully partner with our customers to bring their strategies to life through the use of technology solutions. As an active leader in the business, I focus on thoughtful and strategic partnerships with industry-leading manufacturers, as well as strong cross-segment collaboration, spanning five CDW locations across the U.S.
I joined CDW in June of 2003 as an Account Manager. I took on the role as Sales Operations Supervisor (SOS) in 2009, where I was part of a pilot group of nine to help shape the foundation of what the SOS role is today. During my time as SOS, I worked on several projects and committees which led me to earning CDW Coworker of the Year in 2010. I was promoted to a Sales Manager role in 2012 and managed several different sales teams. At the beginning of 2019, I advanced my career to Senior Sales Manager where I am today.
What’s your favorite thing about your job? And what about your company?
What I enjoy the most about my job is developing and coaching people to reach their full potential and watching them advance in their career. I am the most fulfilled in my job when I can have an impact on someone’s life. What I enjoy the most about CDW is that they care for their coworkers. There is so much that the company does to make us better people, which in turn contributes to us being better coworkers.
There are several different formal mentorship programs at CDW. Many of them are facilitated through our Business Resource Groups. However, the majority of the mentor/sponsorship partnerships happen organically.
How long have you served as a mentor, and how did you wind up becoming one?
I have been an informal mentor for as long as I can remember. I am the oldest of four girls and I’ve always had to be a role model, and a mentor to my younger sisters. Being a mentor and leader came naturally to me. I served as a formal mentor starting in college when I would mentor the new volleyball players that joined the team. I transitioned into a professional mentor when I started my career at CDW. I have always sought out people that I could offer advice and guidance to that would help them in their careers. For the past four and a half years, I have served as a Big Sister for the Big Brothers Big Sisters program in Chicago. I joined this specific program through its CDW partnership, and my goal was to make an impact on children’s lives and show them there are professionals in thriving careers that look like them.
How do you approach your role as a mentor differently from how you approach your own work and your role as a manager?
I actually approach these roles very similarly, but if I had to talk about some of the differences, I would say that as a mentor, the relationship moves at the pace the mentee wants. I find out what they want from the relationship and help them work towards those goals. As a manager, this happens as well; however, in many cases I have to hold those folks a little more accountable, especially if there are deadlines that come into play.
Earlier in your career, did you have a mentor or sponsor yourself? If so, what did you learn from them?
I have had several mentors throughout my career. These folks are the reason I am where I am today. I have internal mentors at CDW and external mentors outside of work, as well. Because of them, I have learned how to navigate my career, improve my network, grow my brand and continue to be on the path for success.
How has being a mentor enriched your own work experience?
Being a mentor has enriched my work because I grow every time I interact with mentees. I’m always thinking of ways to help them in their careers and lives, and I continue to learn throughout the process of helping them. I raise my game in order to help them raise their game!
What’s the No. 1 thing you think women should know about working at CDW?
That women are supported here!
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