Michelle Biase

WOMEN IN TECH: Q&A With Michelle Biase, General Manager, D&H Canada

The latest candidate in our series of Q&As with influential women in the technology business is Michelle Biase, General Manager, D&H Canada, provider of technology solutions to the North American channel. D&H supports resellers and MSP partners in corporate, mid-market, small-to-midsize business, and government markets with endpoints, advanced technologies, and differentiated services.

Name: Michelle Biase

Job Title & Company: General Manager, D&H Canada

Years in the Industry: 32 Years

The Quote That Most Inspires You: “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” (- Ralph Waldo Emerson)

What drew you to a career in the consumer and/or business technology industry?

Truthfully, need. I needed to pay rent. The opportunity to join a small reseller as office manager presented itself, and I took it. In this role, I learned about business, technology, customer service, and the technology channel. During my time with this company, I developed relationships within distribution and the vendor community.

In the early ‘90s, the tech industry was booming, and opportunities were plentiful. The variety of roles and fast-paced technology advancements ignited excitement about building a career in the industry. Hard work, networking, constant learning, good fortune, and valued sponsorships supported my career growth over the past 32 years.

Have you encountered any roadblocks along the way that were related to your gender?

No one’s career is without challenges. I’ve encountered roadblocks by way of bias, self-limitation, and inexperience. My career and leadership accelerated when I began to hone my values and vision and believe in my abilities. Leading by my values, embracing my unique gifts, and developing an inclusive and humanistic approach to business management and leadership has helped propel my career.

Sponsors and allies have been an important factor in my career growth. Their support and guidance has encouraged me to continue leveraging my approach, which has helped me successfully lead diverse teams through challenging times. When people feel supported and rewarded, they are empowered to utilize their unique talents and experiences to succeed.

What unique characteristics or perspective do you feel you bring to your organization as a woman?

I focus on mentorship and support of team members, so that leadership is continuously developing talent from all areas of the organization. That’s something D&H is very supportive of across-the-board. We’ve put a bottom-up leadership model into practice that promotes engagement and input from all levels, so people feel vested in the organization and their input is valued.

Michelle Biase

Technology is historically a male-dominated industry, yet the use of tech is fully embraced by women, and many studies even suggest that females are the primary buyers of tech in the home. What do you feel the technology industry needs to attract more women, particularly into high-level positions?

Companies need to consider how they approach hiring practices, and whether certain parameters of a job description might inadvertently narrow the pool of women applicants. For instance, requirements might call for 10 years’ experience.  Yet 10 years ago, there may not have been as many women in comparable high-tech positions, which would limit the breadth of female applicants.

If job requirements at higher levels of leadership were more flexible, and criteria were based more on achievements, performance, and innovative strategies as opposed to specific years of C-level experience, a chief leadership position might attract more innovative women leaders.

Embracing diverse leadership styles and demonstrating a commitment to an environment of inclusion is critical in attracting female talent. Companies need to review policies and practices that promote diversity and draw leaders that are breaking ground in their leadership models.

If you had to sum up what it is like being a woman in this male-dominated technology industry in just a few words, what would you say?

Opportunities exist. Know your talents, be aware of barriers, believe in your abilities. Success awaits!

Are there women in the tech industry who inspire you?

There have been several women throughout my career who have paved the way for those that followed. Early in my career, I worked for one of the first female IT CEOs in Canada. She was driven, intelligent, and faced many barriers during that time.  Her fearlessness, bravery, and high standard of work proved that women could be just as successful as men in the tech industry.

Many women at D&H are a daily inspiration to me. We have several female leaders in our organization that lead with integrity, passion, and talent. I am continuously learning from them.

What are some of the misconceptions/myths about women working in the technology space that you’d like to dispel?

Women are making progress in the tech industry, and there is more to do. While more women are in leadership roles, leadership positions can still be gendered, with women holding head positions in marketing, HR, and administration. Female leadership qualities are needed across all functions and in the more superior leadership roles.

The next generation of talent expects something different, and female leaders can deliver this. As the pace of technology accelerates, communication, collaboration, and creativity will be at the forefront of successful leadership skills.

What’s one thing you wish was done differently in the industry, and why?

Women have truly been proving their value in the channel, so the industry is making terrific progress and now can boast some fine women leaders in the technology field. But women still come up against obstacles, whether that’s through unconscious biases or pay inequities that may still linger in certain segments.

As organizations embrace change and commit to closing the gender gap, opportunities for women will increase. In my own career as a leader, I want to be recognized for my performance and achievements in my position, as opposed to just being recognized as a woman leader in a high-tech field.

Are you optimistic for the future in general and for the industry?

I am optimistic, even as we face impediments like a stubborn economic recovery and inflation. D&H Canada has shown that it’s possible to successfully differentiate your business with customer-focused policies and services. We’ve proven you can outpace the general market if you have the right offering.

Technology has never been a more intrinsic part of our lives than it is right now, and that’s only going to accelerate. So high-tech companies will not only have an enduring future in front of them, they’ll have the responsibility to make all this technology — including AI-based products — effectively and responsibly serve households, businesses, and consumers. It’s an important obligation, but I’m sure this ever-evolving industry is up to fulfilling the task.