Kashmir is Elo’s EMEA channel director, reporting directly to Maarten Bais, general manager, EMEA.

Kashmir Cooper

In this position, Kashmir will be responsible for managing Elo’s distribution and driving the company’s strategy with pan-European partners.

With a track record in driving sales through channel and distribution, Kashmir will play a key role in aggressively pushing Elo revenue growth and building out a more enhanced channel partner programme.

Prior to joining the Elo team, Kashmir held the role of director of channel partners and strategic alliance at Displaydata. In that role she was responsible for leading and managing a team handling channel partners around the globe.

Kashmir holds a degree in Business and Finance from The University of Westminster.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

I’m Channel Director for the EMEA region at Elo, a global leader in touch screen solutions and the inventors of the original touchscreen. In my role, I’m responsible for four pan European distributors that send out Elo’s wide range of digital signage and point of sale touchscreens.

My background is mostly in sales – when I was 16, my Dad passed away and my mother and I ran a market stall together just outside of London. It’s here that I learnt the basics of sales, inventory management, distribution and stock rotation. Before joining Elo I worked at Xerox, a company dedicated to finding new ways of working, for eight years.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

No – at university I studied business and finance and then went on to qualify as a financial advisor. I didn’t enjoy the job though, so decided I needed to change career. I knew I wanted to be a senior executive, since it’s always been a personal goal, and while I was at Xerox, I was lucky enough to be put forward for a senior leadership programme. Here, I got to learn about the different departments of the business and was fortunate enough to receive plenty of career advice.

Have you faced any challenges along the way and if so, how did you deal with them?

I’ve found it can be hard to know what kind of jobs are available if they aren’t traditional sales roles, so there have been times where I’ve not had the job security I needed. For example, I once took on a distribution role (a maternity cover position) and even though the role was really complex, hard work and only temporary, it taught me the intricacies of distribution and I fell in love with the world of distribution.

Throughout my career there have been times where I’ve not felt challenged enough – mainly due to the fact that I’m a woman. Although women are in the minority within this space, this has only ever been a door opener for me. Women need to realise that technology is in fact, a very welcoming industry for them!

On a typical workday, how does you start your day and how does it end?

I honestly don’t have a typical working day! As Channel Director, you need to be capable of dealing with very little to no structure, as well as no beginning or end to the day. It can be very challenging but it means my day is always varied and interesting. Working with teams across various time zones means I have to be prepared to deal with issues that have been going on long before I’ve even woken up!

Tell us a little bit about your role and how did that come about?

I gained my role as Channel Director at Elo after being head hunted. I have a reputation within the industry and see myself as a brand…Some people might think this is odd, but it works. I look after our four pan European distributors by helping them with purchase advice, stock and inventory. It can be a balancing act from time to time when making sure I am fair and equitable towards all four, so trust and integrity are two important words for me.

There’s a heavily analytical side to my job, which involves looking at sales forecasts, projects, new products, end of life products and carrying out global inventory analysis. I also work closely with our product managers and our marketing department to ensure that productions on promotion have enough stock.

Have you ever had a mentor or a sponsor or anyone who has helped your career?

I’ve had several mentors or sponsors throughout my career, often thanks to seeking them out myself. Xerox was a sponsorship environment – you needed a mentor in order to succeed there. Russell Peacock, who was president of the global technology delivery group, took me under his wing and let me try out life in several different roles, which was really beneficial.

As my career has progressed, I too have enjoyed mentoring the next generation of talent and helping them to accelerate their careers – it’s really fulfilling and rewarding.

If you could change one thing for women in the workplace, what would it be?

It would be great to raise awareness of the diverse variety of roles in technology for women – I don’t think there’s enough in place to highlight all the possibilities and when we think of a sector, we tend to think of the more traditional or obvious roles. My role is traditional, but not all career paths are so clear cut. The impact of digital has seen to that, along with new technologies. There are plenty of specialist jobs, such as ‘head of digital’, that simply wouldn’t have existed about five years ago.

How would you encourage more women into STEM/ the digital industry?

In my opinion, STEM roles lend themselves to women’s strengths as they’re constantly evolving and on trend. You need to be organised, methodical, flexible and able to problem solve. That’s why it’s so important to make women aware of what an exciting industry it can be. A good way to do this would be for technology companies to have open days, where they can show who they are and what roles they have on offer to the next generation of tech talent. By 2020, half of the work force in the US alone will be millennials, so we need to find more ways to attract them to any industry, especially those that fall around STEM, and with a particular focus on women.

On a personal level, I think it’s important for me to be a good role model and provide advice and guidance for women wanting to push their careers forward in a largely male world.

If you were to look back in five years, what would you see in terms of your achievements?

I’d hope that I’d helped to add value and had an impact on growing the Elo EMEA business, to the partners, as well as increased the success of our point of sale and touchscreen technology. I’d also like to see that I brought in a new generation distribution team to continue to carry out our role in the overall Elo team.

Tell us about your plans for the future?

I’d like to continue to be sponsored, develop my career, skills and experience in order to become a future leader. I’m only three steps away from CEO level at the moment, so I’m planning to step up my ambition and desire in order to eventually get to that point. I’m also open to Non Exec roles but saying that, I’m very comfortable in my role right now and I really enjoy it. It doesn’t feel like work when it’s something you love!