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A Conversation with Zee Khan, Recipient of 2017 Women in Business Award

Every year, the Triangle Business Journal awards women in the Raleigh-Durham area (commonly referred to as the Triangle) who are not only dynamic leaders in the workplace but also outstanding leaders in their communities with the Women in Business Awards.

The ladies of ChannelAdvisor are no strangers to the award — Director of Business Operations Danielle McNeillie and Vice President and General Counsel Diana Allen have been recipients in 2016 and 2015.

And, naturally, this year is no different!

Join us in congratulating Zee Khan, director of account services and global support, for being a recipient of the 2017 Women in Business Award. In her eight-year career at ChannelAdvisor, Zee has spearheaded a wide variety of projects, and her determination and dedication to her team have helped lead them to a Stevie® Award in the Customer Service Department of the Year category. 

We sat down with Zee this week to chat about her continued success:

What accomplishments are you the most proud of?

We’ve done a lot of great work in tightening up processes, creating new workflows, new teams and finding efficiencies. But people are the heart of your company and being able to motivate them and develop them professionally is going to be what ultimately makes or breaks your success. Finding a “diamond in the rough” and coaching them to their fullest potential is extremely satisfying and something that I’d like to think I’ve done well, and developing my management team to be strong leaders has been something I’m extremely proud of.

What would you say has been the biggest factor in your success?

I really appreciate being part of a company that trusts me and that lets me try new things.I am the type of person who is constantly questioning the status quo. Even really good processes need to be revisited later on to see if they are still working. Things may have changed drastically since they were created, and they may not be the optimal path forward anymore. I also like to lead with yes. If something is a good idea and needs to be done, there’s always a way to get it done, even with limited resources. If there’s a gap and no one else owns the problem, I’ll step up to own it.

What advice would you give to women early in their careers?

Zee Khan, 2017 Women in Business Award winner, glacier hiking
Zee is an avid hiker and traveler. If she’s not in the office, she’s likely enjoying the great outdoors!

I would say don’t let anyone make you feel like you don’t belong there,

especially if you are in an industry that is predominantly male. Sheryl Sandberg’s book “Lean In” has been around for a while, but it is required reading for any woman aspiring to a professional career. There are so many subtle cultural behaviors that have been ingrained in us that we don’t recognize how we are our own worst enemy. Also, I want to urge women to support other women. We need more of that in the workplace.

What was your dream job as a kid?

It changed at various times in my life, but when I was eight years old, I was passionate about becoming an archaeologist. I was always fascinated by ancient civilizations, what happened to them, and what we could learn from them. The rest of my dream jobs, such as being a police officer — or even president — usually had to do with some aspect of public service. That’s what ultimately drew me into Support and Services — I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives. I also volunteer on an advisory board for my town government, and I hope to eventually increase my involvement in the public sphere.

What’s one leadership lesson that you’ve learned in your career?

Most recently, it’s to always make time for communication, even if you don’t have time for anything else. Silence is dangerous because speculation and misinformation begin to fill up that void. Then you have to work so much harder to regain any trust that was lost, even if those reasons were not justified.

It’s an honor to have such incredible women on our team that continue to lead and inspire in the workplace. We want to extend a big congratulation to all of the 2017 Women In Business Award winners! You can find a full list of this year’s winners here.

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