Darlene Kelly, chief operating officer (COO) at TeraMach Technologies Inc., began her career in IT when she received an unexpected phone call from her current workplace 12 years ago.
Kelly began her career as a professional accountant at a national accounting firm and held other finance-related positions in the industry. Shortly after, she joined the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Management as a professor.
“During this period, I also had the flexibility to do some consulting, professional training and facilitation,” she said. “After 10 years at the University of Ottawa, I decided to take a year off to determine what I wanted to do next. I received a phone call from TeraMach, which had just celebrated its second year in business. TeraMach wanted to engage a consultant to facilitate the company’s first strategic planning session.”
Kelly said that while she had lots of experience in facilitation, she didn’t have any experience or knowledge about the IT industry.
She asked TeraMach’s co-founder and president, Hunter Li, if he wanted her to find someone with specific industry experience to help out, however Kelly said Li insisted she had been “highly recommended” for the job.
“One of the biggest challenges I faced was that I’d wonder if someone like me, without (industry) experience, could be relevant and make a difference,” she said.
Putting her doubts aside, Kelly agreed to be involved with TeraMach’s strategic planning session and joined the team full time in 1999. She has been with TeraMach ever since.
When Kelly joined the TeraMach team 11 years ago, she said the company was an HP-dedicated VAR.
“In bringing me into (TeraMach), the goal was for me to help grow the business to become a multi-vendor solution provider,” Kelly explained. “I started getting involved from management standpoints and with partnerships. I also operated more from a channel perspective when it came to vendors and managing those relationships.”
Throughout her career, Kelly says she’s learned to follow her heart and be happy in what she’s doing.
“My mom was instrumental to me because she’s always told me I could do whatever I wanted to do,” she said. “There are very few women in this field but there are lots of great female and male role models out there. Above all, it’s important to be results-oriented and to be relevant, and that applies to both women and men.”
Follow Maxine Cheung on Twitter: @MaxineCheungCDN.