There’s something to be said for the power of positivity. When one approaches any task at hand with a can-do attitude, it takes the teeth right out of a challenge. And with a 30-year track record of employing this upbeat approach at Toshiba America Business Solutions, Michele Cockins has left many overcome obstacles in her wake.
It’s not a case of being an office Pollyanna. If there is one thing that is sure to put a smile on Cockins’ face, it is accomplishing that which is seemingly impossible—even if it entails getting her hands dirty in the process.
“I get things done quickly, work well in teams and enjoy leveraging the individual strengths and ideas of teammates,” said Cockins, a 2020 ENX Magazine Difference Maker. “And, I am not afraid to get in the trenches. I won’t ask anyone to do what I will not do.”
As director of subsidiary sales, Cockins is tasked with training sales reps and managers, and helps draw up the blueprints for high-level deal presentations, in addition to coordinating nationwide sales contests for Toshiba Business Solutions, the organization’s direct sales operation. She relishes the opportunity to develop and mentor teammates in helping them realize their potential.
The University of Cincinnati graduate and holder of a marketing degree, she worked as a technical writer while still in school. Recognizing it was not the career path for her, Cockins took a cue from her father, an IBM employee, who recommended giving the office technology industry a shot. Her first job out of college came courtesy of Xerox (she would later work for Exxon Office Systems and Ricoh).
“The similar path did provide a lot of fun banter with my dad before his retirement,” she said.
Matter of Trust
Apart from her father, Cockins has found a true mentor in TBS President Steven Sauer, a 2019 Difference Maker. Sauer has stressed the importance of trust in business as a catalyst for fast-tracking success. It also fosters a culture that yields honest feedback while helping to ensure a team can perform at the highest levels.
How we handle adversity can often act as a test of character. Cockins recalled being handed a quick-turnaround, national project that fell outside the scope of her expertise. While she was able to beat the deadline, the project suffered from a quality standpoint. There was a mistake in Cockins’ analysis that was widely communicated before being discovered.
“I learned in that moment to own up to it and move on,” she said. “Data was recalculated and I received recognition for doing it well. At that moment, the lesson was in the power of acknowledging mistakes. Doing so instills courage.”
Toshiba’s fiscal 2019 calendar wrapped up in March, just as the country (and the world) was confronted with the realities brought by COVID-19. TBS quickly shifted gears and provided its clients and prospects with webinars as a substitute for in-person meetings. Cockins is proud of the program series TBS was able to deliver and how the team reacted to the necessary pivot.
Eyes on Prize
Despite the pandemic, Cockins is channeling her energies toward ensuring TBS’ sales professionals can maximize meaningful business conversations and engagements while keeping a watchful eye on the sales pipeline. The pause has created opportunities to learn, and Cockins vows to leverage the reservoir of information at her disposal.
“I believe that you can learn from anyone and everyone,” she said. “For my part, I will continue to work on key projects with a team approach. This is a great way to learn from experts. We have huge talent at Toshiba.”
Cockins and her husband, Steve Rosenzweig, recently celebrated their 24th wedding anniversary. Both avid travel enthusiasts, COVID-19 unfortunately put the kibosh on a summer trip to Scotland. The pair also share a passion for muscle cars and enjoy hitting the auction circuit in pursuit of a new set of wheels. Rotary is another endeavor that occupies their free time. Cockins is involved with Women in Rotary, and a current focus is on helping impoverished women in the community get a second chance at professional and personal success.