As a Regional Sales Manager who’s spent nearly 20 years at the same company, Kim Rice is someone who wears the mantle of senior leader well. But she’s quick to point out that, far from the tokenism prevalent at some companies, Rice’s experience is not the exception at CDW.
“We have an incredible female executive leadership team,” she shared. “At every turn you can find a strong female leader, from our CEO to our Chief Growth and Innovation Officer to our Chief Operating Officer, as well as much of our senior sales leadership.”
Throughout her time at CDW, a leading multi-brand technology solutions provider, Rice says she’s benefited from strong female role models and resource groups designed to help her succeed.
“Paving the way for our future female leaders is incredibly important,” she said. “I have been lucky to have some fantastic mentors throughout my career and use my position to do the same for other women.”
Recently, Rice shared with us some of the guidance she offers women who are building their careers in sales, as well as the top three qualities she looks for when interviewing candidates.
How long have you been in your current role, and what were you doing previously?
I have been in this role for four years. Prior to moving into management, I was a Field Account Executive, also on the Los Angeles team.
Describe what you do in one sentence.
I am the steward for my team to empower and motivate them to serve our customers and achieve their sales goals.
What would you say is the best part about working in sales?
No two days are ever the same. From connecting with customers and collaborating with partners and internal coworkers, to learning new and innovative technology, there is never a dull moment. We also have some of the most interesting customers in the best industries, so I feel truly grateful.
How would you describe your leadership style as a sales manager?
I have always connected strongly to the principles of Servant Leadership. As leaders, it is our mission to set the tone and the vision for the team. Teams need inspiration to perform at their highest level, and at the forefront, this is the mission. The culture of our office is also very important, as I want to foster a collaborative and inclusive culture where every coworker feels empowered to speak, learn and grow. My team also knows that I am here to support their efforts and that they can count on me to roll up my sleeves when the job gets demanding and they are in need of support.
What’s one thing you think young job seekers should know about your company? What about those who are in a more advanced career stage?
Regardless of where you are in your career, CDW is a fantastic place to call your work home. For young sellers just coming out of college, CDW fosters that hunger to learn and takes you through an intensive training program that will set you up for success. For those who come with more experience, our culture is extremely unique in our industry. We encourage the “work hard, play hard” mentality and offer a collaborative culture where every coworker feels more like a friend. This is a place you can build a long career. I should know, as I am in my 20th year!
How have you used your role to help bring up other women behind you? How do you build time into your schedule for this kind of work?
We can always find time for things if we consider them a priority. Paving the way for our future female leaders is incredibly important. I have been lucky to have some fantastic mentors throughout my career and use my position to do the same for other women. I am also a member of our Women’s Opportunity Network at CDW and additionally participate in many local STEM groups and women in tech local events here in Southern California.
What are the top three qualities you look for when you’re interviewing a candidate for a sales role?
1. An Insatiable hunger to sell that goes beyond the monetary benefits.
2. Empathy. We need to connect with our customers, as we are in this relationship with them for the long haul.
3. A strong desire to continuously learn and improve.
What advice do you have for women who are looking to elevate their career in sales?
Be yourself and be confident. There is no need to emulate someone else and be somebody you are not. Know your strengths and play to those. You will still be expected to perform at a high level, and when you do, be your biggest champion and advocate. It also helps to find great mentors and make the most of those relationships.
Why do you think your company is a particularly supportive work environment for women?
We have an incredible female executive leadership team. At every turn you can find a strong female leader, from our CEO to our Chief Growth and Innovation Officer to our Chief Operating Officer, as well as much of our senior sales leadership. We also have Business Resource Groups like the Women’s Opportunity Network and Women of the West for women aligned to the West Coast in sales. Across the organization, you’ll find a strong female role model or resource group where you can find like-minded support. Even with the strong female representation at CDW, the majority of my mentors here at CDW have been men, and they have always made a concerted effort to encourage and support my most ambitious and aggressive career goals.
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