The Cloud Girl Rising award was created to honor women in the telecom and IT channel who have shown leadership and innovation in the emerging cloud space as well as to inspire more women to step forward and follow their example.

Melanie Sunahara, National Channel Director for TierPoint, was honored as a Rising Star, a female up-and-comer in the cloud community who has shown initiative in advancing cloud and next-generation technology solutions for her organization, customers and the industry.

According to Sunahara, “I recognize that for many, the cloud still feels ‘mysterious’ and people are skeptical. For a salesperson, it can be challenging to have to consistently convince people of the merits and benefits of not only of your company’s solutions, but of the cloud overall. Perseverance, positivity and a team approach are the keys to addressing those challenges.”

Cloud Girls is pleased to share more about Sunahara in this edited excerpt from her award application.

Give one example of how you have innovated in the cloud space and shunned the status quo.

At one point in my career, with a certain firm, I was told to give up the cloud business. They suggested I, “change jobs,” and that the public cloud I sold would never be accepted.  I stood my ground because I believed in the solution, and the power of the cloud, and saw the opportunity through. I built the line into a respectfully sized business and positively affected change in the face of significant negativity from those both internal and external to the firm.

Share one cloud related success that qualifies you to win this award.

I’ve spent the better part of my career swimming upstream, as it relates to rising above industry noise and competing with major players in the marketplace.  At a previous company, we were the “underdog” in a cloud market dominated by major players. Customers defaulted to the largest players because they thought they “should,” even if our company’s solution was a better fit from an infrastructure and cost standpoint.

We decided to partner with another big brand, Cisco, and leverage their cache to speed the sales cycle. I worked with Cisco to create a seeding program that they funded themselves (branded events that drove attendance of cloud prospective customers, incentives for sales rep to drive cloud use with our company, expansion of our cloud solution into Cisco’s customer base, etc.), which was a win-win for us both as the program broke all previous sales quotas and created a multi-million dollar business that didn’t previously exist.

How have you advocated for other women and enabled them to learn from you in the cloud space?

I’m an advocate for organizations and an active participant in conversations that address the unique challenges faced by women in the cloud and how to overcome them. Over the course of my career, I’ve seen numerous women transition from telco to cloud and have mentored colleagues and peers as they’ve made them.