Balancing, striving, relating
Claire Jones is presently, Director of Partner Sales for Middle East and Africa at Juniper Networks, a position she has held since late 2015. Claire has been involved in IT sales, channel strategies and business development for most of her career and has been aligned with vendor channel expansion where her skills are best utilised.
“Juniper Networks has had a sharp focus on developing a strong partner base from the beginning of our operations in the region, and I take pride in building this out further. Developing long standing and mutually beneficial relationships with partners is the most satisfying part of my role,” she explains.
At Juniper Networks, Claire is responsible for channel and alliance partner strategy and execution across Middle East and Africa.
On a more, pan regional scale, Claire believes resellers are transitioning to new business models at a rapid pace. This is in order to meet demands of their customers as they negotiate digital transformation in their businesses. However, channel partners must develop new skill sets to help customers on this journey, and distributors have an important role in helping resale partners acquire and develop these skills.
Prior to Juniper Networks, Claire had a long stint at Cisco in the region, from 2005 to 2015 in multiple roles as Commercial Sales and Partner Manager, Regional Partner Manager for Strategic Partners, and Regional Manager. She has also previously worked at 3Com and BT.
“I work best in an honest, authentic, collaborative and fun environment”
So, what is Claire’s work style and what keeps her motivated and focused on her role? She explains her workstyle. “I work best in an honest, authentic, collaborative and fun environment. I embrace these values in my work style.” Other work attributes important for her are also influenced by the organisational culture and include open communication, honesty and a united team goal. Claire believes the Juniper Networks’ work culture give her the opportunity to drive these values herself and collectively into her team.
Claire’s sense of achievement comes from having developed professional and personal relationships with channel partners across Middle East and Africa, who have gone ahead and grown over the years. “Seeing how these partners have grown over years and having them acknowledge my contribution to their growth, gives me a huge sense of accomplishment.”
Claire extends the importance of relationships into her personal lifestyle as well. They are vital for her and she gains inspiration and happiness from her family and friends. She also works hard to give them priority in her life.
The best way she likes to de-stress off-work is by spending time with her family and friends. Whether playing at the beach with her children, having dinner with friends, or a long-distance call with the close family. “Each gives me the opportunity to re-focus and allows me to rejuvenate and be ready to take on the next challenge at work.”
However, one of the biggest contributions that senior women IT executives like Claire do provide in a much bigger way is mentoring and encouraging other women to enter the field of information technology in the region. Claire points out, that IT is a male-dominated industry, particularly in the Middle East, and presents challenges for female professionals.
And over the last twenty years there have been changes. “I am pleased to see the progress made in terms of gender diversity. More women now choose to work in IT with the belief that they can achieve their career growth in this industry.”
Throughout her career, across various forums, Claire has been active in supporting women grow their careers inside IT. At Juniper Networks, she is a core member of the Juniper Women in Network group. Their mission is to provide a networked community for all Juniper female employees and to support them in achieving their full potential.
Here is what Claire would like to share with other women in IT:
- A voice heard is better than silence.
- Some women tend to overthink before expressing thoughts, which can lead them to remain quiet in a room full of men.
- Always have an opinion, and never hesitate to ask questions and share your thoughts.
- A healthy life cannot be achieved when we only give attention to our career.
- As women, we are masters of multi-tasking, which leads us to manage work, family and house.
- To achieve success in any part of our lives, we need to balance it with other parts.
- Make the time, be present and strive for the balance you need to be successful in your life.
Claire Jones has been working in the regional IT and channel industry for close to twenty years and her ingredients for success continue to be valuing relationships, balancing her life style, and team emphasis on honesty and fun.