I honestly did not even know what the AV Industry was when I fell into it in 1988. However, like many others, I quickly fell in love with our community and I found myself surrounded by people with a great passion for technology and an equivalent drive to deliver outstanding products and experiences to their customers and the world at large.
I started out in an entry level position. With time and mentorship, grew into leadership roles and positions. My personal and professional growth came from the generosity of those I was fortunate enough to work with. I will be forever grateful for the support from those who chose to invest their time and energy into helping me grow. That roster is endless and what remains a consistent observation and experience for me, to this day, is how willing so many people are to step up and invest time and energy into the professional growth and career development of others.
Technology Has Come a Long Way
In those early years, I remember being so excited to see my first video conferencing system and I fully expected it to be like broadcast television. It was astounding just how wrong I was! We were at a customer site with a CLI codec and when we connected to the far end, I was so disappointed. I knew the person we were connecting with, and it was such a low resolution image that I barely recognized him.
Reflecting on those days, in juxtaposition to where we are now, it’s amazing to see how far technology has advanced. Those large codec systems were expensive and cumbersome to purchase, install and use. Today, almost every call I make is a video call.
Video has become commonplace. It’s now easy to use and part of our daily life – in and out of the workplace. It has been wonderful to watch this technology, and related technologies, evolve and subsequently improve the real-world user experience. It really does help build, sustain, and improve relationships. I recently attended the ISE 2022 show in Barcelona, Spain and I saw a person in my hotel lobby I had only met via video calls. Nonetheless, I knew it was him the moment I saw him. It is amazing how far we have come, and I cannot wait to see where we go.
Still Room To Grow
There is, however, one area of our industry that has not advanced enough. While this has always been an area in which I focused energy and activity, I am leaving our industry not seeing the degree or depth of change that I was hoping for. I am talking about D&I (Diversity and Inclusion) and, specifically, bringing more women into the AV Industry.
My focus and passion in this area started in 1989 when I was asked to serve on a panel for “Women in Audio” at an AES convention. I sat with five other women. We outlined the statistics at the time and how we all happened to fall into this industry, discussing ideas of how to attract, recruit, and mentor more women in AV. The numbers back then were low single digits. We are now in the low double digits. Yes, it is progress, but it is not enough. We need to do better as individuals, teams, companies, and as an industry.
I’ve enjoyed a long career, and I’ve loved nearly every moment of it, and I have seen a major increase in women’s representation in AV in just the last two years. For example, the AVIXA Women’s Council is now the largest council AVIXA has. Nonetheless, I was hoping to see us grow and evolve to at least a 50/50 ratio prior to my leaving the industry. We do have a growing awareness and concern for this topic now. Many allies and supporters and I will personally continue to cheer our industry on from the sidelines.
In closing, I would like to extend a huge thank you to all of you for supporting me and my efforts throughout my career. The industry made me feel welcomed and I thank you! Maya Angelou said it best: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”