Megan Amdahl is Senior Vice President of Partner Alliances & North America Transformation at Insight, a solutions integrator company that provides technical expertise and advisory services to help organizations accelerate their digital journeys and modernize their businesses. Megan is a finance leader with more than 10 years of diverse experience in financial planning and analysis, cost reduction, process improvement, technical accounting and much more.
In this exclusive interview, Megan Amdahl discusses her career path, the key factors that contributed to her success, the challenges that she’s faced as a woman in business, how she overcame them, and the unique initiatives at Insight that support and empower a diverse group of executives.
Please share a bit about how you reached your current professional role:
I actually started my career in accounting. Eventually, my employer, Ernst & Young Global Limited (EY), paid for me to attend Notre Dame to obtain a master’s in accounting in order to become a CPA.
I stayed with Ernst & Young for about four years and I loved it, primarily because it was such a learning institution. I will be forever grateful for everything that I learned while there.
I eventually joined Insight to be controller for the U.S. By that time in my career, I’d reached VP level, but to take the role at Insight, I actually took a step down and accepted a director level position at the company.
I did that because Insight was a much more sizable company than any company that I’ve worked for previously. And it was my opportunity to get into the technology industry. And that decision actually worked out really well for me. I was promoted back up to VP level within just a few months of joining Insight.
I started to realize that the part of my job that I most appreciated was working with sales to win complex deals, helping the company integrate companies that we had acquired, and working with our sales and our service delivery team to operationalize new offerings.
And what I was really realizing was that I didn’t love accounting and if I had to do another month-end close or quarter-end close, I didn’t really see how I could continue doing that.
So, I reached out to our president because I was starting to talk to other companies about potentially doing something entirely different. And that’s when he said, ‘I think there’s an opportunity for you to do something different here at Insight.’
He created a new role combining two previous SVP roles into one and I became responsible for operations as well as profitability for Insight. I did that for us for about six years.
Then, I took over Partner Alliances. Some companies call it ‘Partner Management,’ but regardless of what you call it, it’s responsible for key partner relationships. I did that for a few years and then went over and led our enterprise sales team. Now, today, I lead our Partner Alliances organization as well as North America Transformational Programs. From a leadership perspective, I’ve held a lot of different roles.
Who and/or what helped you achieve your current level of success?
Well, I think that moving into so many different aspects of the business has been really helpful. I have led teams for accounting, finance, partner alliances, sales, North America transformation…etc.
Those experiences have provided me with a really broad perspective, and now I’m able to give feedback in a multitude of areas. I would also say that although I feel like I’ve had a lot of success, and I’m appreciative to so many people who have been my sponsors, I don’t see myself as being finished, in terms of career progression.
One of the great things about Insight is that they recognize how under-represented women are on corporate boards. And so I’m fortunate that they’ve decided to invest in their female executives, and that they are investing in a board ready program, where they’ve hired a consulting company to help us prepare to serve on corporate boards.
Our CEO, CFO and Chief Human Resource Officer, all of whom are female by the way, are mentoring us and also helping us prepare to serve on corporate boards. I also have to give a shout out to many of Insight’s board members, who have been helping us prepare.
Insight’s just really a great organization and their investment in their teammates is amazing. We’re definitely a special place for female executives, and female teammates in general.
What barriers have you faced, as a woman, in becoming successful in business (if any)? How did you overcome them?
I think there’s a social aspect to career progression that’s not usually discussed. I learned about this at EY. They did research on why women were leaving the company at such higher rates than men.
And I love that they didn’t take the issue for granted — They could have just said ‘well, it’s obvious, you know, women have children, and then they leave their career or the workforce to go focus on more work life balance,’ but instead they actually went and spoke to the women who had left and those who were still with the company.
The researchers said ‘why do you think that women are leaving at such a higher rate than men?’ And the women said, ‘well, we don’t really see our opportunity to grow. Because when you think about who’s going to get promoted [in Partner Alliances], it’s the people that have relationships with the corporate partners…
And what we see is that the partners are taking a lot of the managers – male managers- out to lunch, to happy hours, to dinner…etc., but that they must feel awkward because they never invite us. So we don’t have those personal relationships.’
In response, Ernst and Young did the coolest thing. They actually said, ‘we’re going to assign our female managers and senior managers to male partner mentors. But when you guys meet, you can’t meet in the office or it won’t count towards your mentor-mentee relationship. You actually need to go off site so that you guys can start building those relationships, similar to what we’re seeing with a lot of male managers and senior managers’ — and it made all the difference.
I’ve thought about that a lot in my career, and I’m very intentional about building relationships broadly across the organization, with no consideration to level or gender, or anything else for that matter. It’s just about building relationships, and getting to know the outstanding people that you work with.
Based on your own experience, what advice would you give to women considering a career in your field?
One of the things that I think was an important decision in my career was joining Insight, and focusing on working for a technology company. If you think about it, tech is so incredibly resilient. In times of great economic growth, we really outperform the market and then in times when there’s a significant market downturn, what companies have really learned is that they still need to invest in their technology.
This was especially true both during COVID and after COVID. What I think most executives of major corporations have learned is that if you don’t continue to invest in technology, many of your competitors will and they’ll that will put so much distance between you and them that you may never recover.
So, I think we’re in the absolute best industry. And I think that tech’s resilience is going to continue for the foreseeable future. I would say that coming to Insight and deciding to work within the technology industry was probably one of the most important career decisions I’ve made.
What does International Women’s Day and its theme this year #EmbraceEquity, mean to you?
I love it. We know there’s still a huge gender gap and that we all need to lean in to close it. That’s one of the reasons I’m so proud to work at Insight. We’re very, very focused on it.
And we’ve been recognized pretty broadly for the great work and accomplishments that we’ve had in this space. Insight was recognized twice last year; by Forbes for being a top female friendly company, and on the America’s Best Employer for Women list.
I think that we were recognized on both of those lists because a significant proportion of our leadership are female. If you look for SVPs and above at Insight, women make up 40% of that population, which is not standard.
As a leader, how do you empower yourself and empower the people around you?
At Insight, we implemented a concept called Completed Staff Work. It’s a management principle that says that teammates should submit recommendations to their leaders in a manner such that the leader needs to do nothing more than read it and indicate their approval or disapproval.
You can Google it. It’s a military concept that we found does a magnificent job in our work environment, and has an impact on our teammates in terms of them feeling empowered.
If you think about it, as you progress within your career, you go from an entry-level position where you’re saying, ‘hey, tell me what to do’, to saying things like, ‘I think this,’ to saying, ‘I’ve done this or I’m doing this’, and with Completed Staff Work, we were able to take our teammates from being in the mindset of telling me what to do, to just informing us about what they are doing today.
So again, the concept is Completed Staff Work. We had such amazing success with that, that we’ve been asked to go and speak about it broadly across Insight. And we really believe it empowers our teammates, and that it makes our speed to decisive decision-making so much better.
Could you say a bit about Insight’s core values – and how you interpret the Hunger, Heart and Harmony values within your role?
Yeah, they’re so important. The great thing about Insight and our values of Hunger, Heart and Harmony is that we implement them from the moment that we’re onboarding teammates until teammates are leaving us for retirement or to go on to their next career.
We talk about our values of Hunger, Heart and Harmony all the time. When we’re interviewing teammates to join us, we want them to know that we’re a values-based organization.
I think that all of the leaders have their favorite stories of when they saw teammates exhibit Hunger, Heart or Harmony, and we share those stories. We share them with our corporate partners, and we share them with our clients. They’re inherent in everything that we do here at Insight.
How does Insight work to cultivate a diverse environment?
The singular agenda item that’s likely had the biggest impact in terms of establishing an inclusive and diverse culture was creating Teammate Resource Groups (TRGs). What’s really great about TRGs is that they bring together teammates who have similar backgrounds or situations and then provide allies to support them. In total now, we have eight different TRGs. They’re have titles like ‘Women with Insight’ ‘Latinos with Insight’, ‘Insight Stands Out,’ “Insight Able,’ for teammates with disabilities…it’s really incredible.
There are teammates who decide that they’re going to help lead those organizations for us. And it’s just an amazing time where the teammates come together, discuss their similar backgrounds, and then think about what content that they should share at upcoming meetings. And it just really builds a culture of inclusivity. I try and participate in as many of them as I can throughout the year and my team and the broader organization do so as well.