Celebrating Women’s Leadership: A Journey of Growth and Empowerment

March 8, 2024

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Welcome to the first installment of our special Q&A series, spotlighting the remarkable women of Intermedia as we celebrate not just International Women’s Day, but International Women’s Month! Today, we’re honored to sit down with Irina Shamkova, Executive Vice President of Product Management at Intermedia. Join us as we explore Irina’s journey from a Level 1 Technical Support Engineer to an influential leader within the company, and delve into the importance of women’s leadership in the tech industry and beyond.

Thank you for joining us today, Irina. It’s an honor to have this conversation with you, especially on International Women’s Day. Let’s start at the beginning. You joined Intermedia 23 years ago as a Level 1 Technical Support Engineer. Can you share what inspired you to embark on this journey in the tech industry?

Irina Shamkova: Thank you for having me. Looking back, my journey began with a deep curiosity about technology and its impact on our lives. I was fascinated by the potential of the internet and digital communication tools to transform businesses and connect people. Joining Intermedia was a chance to be at the forefront of this transformation. Despite the challenges of entering a male-dominated field, I saw it as an opportunity to learn, grow, and contribute to something meaningful.

Your rise from Technical Support Engineer to Executive Vice President of Product Management is truly inspiring. What were the key factors that helped you navigate your career path so successfully within Intermedia?

IS: The journey wasn’t easy, but a combination of dedication, curiosity, and being a self-starter played a crucial role. Intermedia’s supportive environment was instrumental. From the start, the company believed in my potential, offering opportunities for growth, training, and education that broadened my skills and understanding of the business. I was encouraged to take on new challenges, like becoming the first Project Manager and then moving into Product Management, which paved the way for my leadership roles. The company’s transformation mirrored my own, and this alignment of growth and vision made all the difference.

Speaking of transformation, Intermedia shifted from a Web and Hosted Exchange provider to a leader in unified communications and collaboration solutions. How did you navigate the challenges that came with such significant change?

IS: This transformation required us to be agile, innovative, and forward-thinking. For me, it was about embracing change and seeing it as an opportunity to innovate and lead in new directions. Being involved in different aspects of the business, from technology to M&A decisions, helped me understand the broader picture and contribute more effectively to our strategic goals. It was a collaborative effort, with every challenge becoming a learning opportunity, pushing us to think differently and be better.

Intermedia’s investment in employee growth is notable, from online and in-person trainings to executive coaching and the Women of Intermedia initiative. How have these programs influenced your journey and the company culture?

IS: These initiatives have been crucial not just for my personal and professional development, but for fostering a culture of growth, diversity, and empowerment at Intermedia. The opportunity to learn continuously, receive mentorship, and be part of a community that supports women in tech has been empowering. It reflects the company’s commitment to investing in its people, recognizing that our growth drives the company’s success. The Women of Intermedia initiative, in particular, has created a space for sharing experiences, challenges, and successes, which has been incredibly valuable.

As we celebrate not just International Women’s Day, but really, International Women’s Month, what message would you like to share with women in Intermedia, the IT industry, and beyond?

IS: To all the incredible women in Intermedia and beyond, my message is one of empowerment through strategic alignment, leadership enablement, and continuous learning. Understand your “why” and align it with your company’s vision; this clarity will drive your actions and decisions. Embrace transparency and foster open communication to build a foundation of trust and respect.

Empower your teams by investing in their growth. Educate them on the bigger picture, inspiring them to take ownership and providing them with the resources they need to succeed. Remember, our goal as leaders is to create more leaders, not followers, fostering a culture where innovation thrives.

Execution is key. Focus on what matters, keep your promises, and tackle difficult tasks head-on. Continuous feedback and holding yourself to a higher standard will ensure progress and accountability.

For upcoming female leaders, take your seat at the table confidently. Enable your camera during video conferences, make sure it’s eye-level, and actively contribute to meetings. Your expertise and opinions are invaluable. Be brave, engage, ask questions, and never shy away from new challenges or opportunities to learn.

Lastly, commit to continuous learning. The technology landscape is ever-evolving, so staying updated on new tools and skills is crucial. Utilize resources like online courses, books, and publications to fuel your growth. Establish a habit of learning something new regularly; this will sustain you through periods of both motivation and challenge.

Let’s lead by example, fostering an inclusive environment where every woman can thrive, innovate, and inspire.

Thank you, Irina, for sharing your journey and insights with us today. Your story is a testament to the power of growth, empowerment, and leadership. Here’s to celebrating not just the achievements of women in leadership but inspiring the next generation to dream big and reach for the stars.

IS: Thank you. It’s been a pleasure, and I look forward to seeing the amazing things we will all accomplish together.

Irina’s Intermedia success story is one of many, and reminds us of the transformative power of diversity and inclusion in driving innovation and progress. Her journey at Intermedia serves as a shining example of the opportunities that arise when organizations prioritize the empowerment of women in leadership. On behalf of Intermedia and all those inspired by Irina’s story, we extend our warmest wishes for a Happy International Women’s Day, celebrating the achievements and contributions of women around the world. Stay tuned for our next Women of Intermedia spotlight for the month!

Mariel Santos

Mariel Santos is the Director of Marketing Communications at Intermedia

March 8, 2024

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