Just a few months ago, we welcomed Leah Stiff to ANS as our Head of Alliances. She’s already made quite the impression around the office, so I sat down with her to find out why she decided to join us and what she has in store for her new role.
So Leah, what first attracted you to ANS?
For me it has to be the energy and enthusiasm that feeds the business from the top-down. I’ve been really inspired by the leadership team here at ANS and I love the incredibly fast pace that everyone works at. Anyone who knows me knows I’m happiest when my hair is on fire, so it suits me down to a T!
In the past, I actually used to be a Partner Account Manager for an ANS vendor and then I moved on to another role, but I never stopped admiring ANS from afar, they truly do stand out. The business values, outlook, sales approach and work ethic at ANS make it so unique. The company’s ability to focus on a goal and then execute it is second to none and now that I’m working here, I can see how ANS deliver results so effectively.
Why are you passionate about building alliances between organisations?
Well, partnering is pretty unique in the IT industry, and it’s far from a traditional buyer-supplier relationship. What I’ve found in the technology sector is when two organisations come together, they become interdependent and it’s more of a collaboration. They’re both working towards a common goal which is mutually beneficial. Having come from a buying background, I always loved building business plans and managing relationships to execute against them . I get a lot of satisfaction out of bringing 2 companies together, setting goals and getting results and I love seeing the really big impact this can have on both businesses.
I’ve always loved negotiating and building long-lasting business relationships, but if I’m honest, alliances was never part of the plan, I had never heard of an Alliances job role before I joined Microsoft (would you believe I was training to become a primary school teacher). I just took every opportunity that came my way and if I hadn’t I wouldn’t have ended up doing what I love now. If I had gone looking for my dream job, I never would have found it.
You mentioned before how much you like the energy at ANS, how have you found the people and the vibe around the office?
I can’t get enough of the vibe in the office! It makes you want to come into work every day and you leave feeling super motivated. That all comes down to the people at ANS, they’ve given me a huge welcome and made me feel very at home. My favourite thing about the people at ANS is that they take what they do very seriously, but never themselves. You can’t beat that kind of environment, it’s infectious!
As we know, women are underrepresented in the IT industry and in senior roles across all sectors. What’s it like as a woman working at the top of her game in a male-dominated industry?
I can’t say that I have ever been directly affected by negative comments during my career, probably because it’s like water off a duck’s back with me! But I do call it out when I see it – on both sides. I think we’ll reach true equality when we give both sexes equal opportunities and treat them with the same respect.
It’s true that women are under represented, for no good reason in the tech sector, but what about men? I get asked time and time again, ‘What’s it like having a successful career and raising a family at the same time?’, but no one ever thinks to ask my husband that question. But why? We both work hard and we both equally make time for our son, so surely that question applies to both parents? Maybe it’s time we recognise that. For me it comes down to who you are as a person. If you’re working hard and getting results, your gender doesn’t really matter does it?. Work out your “Why”, what gets you up in the morning, set your own version of success – and then go and get it!
Also, I’m really looking forward to the year ahead with ANS and taking part in the diversity initiatives that are coming up!
What do you hope to bring to the role, for ANS and for yourself personally?
For ANS, I want to drive a co-sell motion with our vendors and partners, I’ll be working closely with them and our brilliant sales team to measure the value of our deals and the number of deals we are winning. And these won’t be just any old deals, they will be key, strategic deals that can only enhance our position as a leader in the technology field. My focus is on getting exactly the right kind of partnerships to build better business relationships. In terms of my own development, Alliances is often seen as quite a ‘fluffy’ job, it involves a lot of relationship building and a lot of coffee drinking – just like sales ?. However, I’m on a bit of a crusade if you like, I want to demonstrate that Alliances is a crucial part of any business in our sector. I like clear measurements and metric-driven plans, that way everyone can see exactly what success looks like – and the numbers do the talking, there’s no hiding behind a big fat zero.
Sounds like you’re going to be busy, Leah! We’re looking forward to seeing what’s in store for ANS alliances. It’s great to have you on board.