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'Diversity is key to success' - Lenovo's Michelle McGeoch

Dominic Sacco
'Diversity is key to success' - Lenovo's Michelle McGeoch

From working as a bank clerk to becoming one of the UK tech channel’s top sales executives, Michelle McGeoch’s story is inspiring and impressive.

She started out in a bank, before moving to work in Dell’s credit control department at the tender age of 18.

“I had intended to stay a while and save enough money to go travelling – I had no idea I would end up loving and staying in this sector for over 25 years,” Michelle explains.

“I wanted to progress within the organisation and so convinced the sales manager to take a chance on me and give me a role as a junior sales rep. I had to go and learn the key components of a PC, and also how to build one from scratch. From there I never looked back.”

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Michelle says she’s been fortunate enough to have worked for some really inspirational people over the years.

“They kept me on track and also encouraged me to step outside my comfort zone in order to keep moving forward to a more challenging role. They encouraged me and believed in me often when I didn’t believe in my own abilities,” she says.

Michelle took a short career break in 2008 to have children – twins of seven and a four-year-old who keep her busy – before joining Lenovo just over five years ago. She says that having children marked a turning point in her career.

“It made me realise that you need a balance between work and home – I now realise you can still have a great career balanced with time for yourself and family/friends,” Michelle adds. “You just have to work in a slightly different way to get everything done. It has made me prioritise better and to only focus on the things I can influence. I don’t waste energy now on anything I can’t control or change.”

Today, Michelle manages more than 20 sales people who provide IT hardware into the UK healthcare, local government and education sectors, and has been instrumental in growing Lenovo’s UK public sector business. She’s also a member of WILL (Women In Lenovo Leadership) – an organisation that addresses key priorities to support women’s growth and contribution to the company. So what’s been the greatest achievement in her career?

“Taking a previously very de- motivated sales team who were not performing, and turning things around,” Michelle explains. “They were the team nobody wanted to join and we worked to become the team everyone aspired to be in. It was a great feeling.”

The PCR Women of the Year judges were so impressed by Michelle’s achievements, they named her winner of the Sales accolade, which she picked up at our awards ceremony in late 2015.

“I still feel very privileged to have won, there were so many great nominations and people doing some amazing things in their roles,” Michelle says.

“I also could not believe the messages of support and encouragement I got following the award, from many people I had lost contact with over the years.

“The event was a really positive experience, everyone was so supportive of everyone else and it was great as a networking opportunity. It is so important that women are celebrated in the PC industry as it’s still a largely male-dominated sector and we know that having diversity, including gender diversity, is key to an organisation’s success.”

Other big tech firms such as Microsoft and Intel have launched their own diversity initiatives over the past year – which Michelle believes is vital.

“It is important that we have these type of initiatives partly to help raise awareness of the tech industry to young women – and men – and that it is a really valuable and exciting career choice,” she comments. “It also helps us all to help each other – so whether that’s in a mentoring role or maybe just having a forum where you can network and share ideas and challenge with one another.

“Having a forum where organisations and individuals can help each other is really important.

“I also ant to thank PCR for running an initiative like this, as it does really help raise awareness of the importance of diversity and celebrates the very valuable role women play in this sector.”

Tags: Lenovo, Interviews, Women of the Year 2015, women of the year, Michelle McGeoch

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