AV Insider Spotlight : Yasmin Grigaliunas, Customer Experience – avt – Australia

Each week, I am highlighting on some of the incredible people who are in the Audio Video Industry. As this blog is mostly about AV insiders, today we are profiling Yasmin Grigaliunas .

Here is a brief intro about her.

Yasmin Grigaliunas has worked in the Audiovisual industry for over 20 years and is one of those people who lives life large! A passionate and energising professional, who is as at home in her corporate life as she is raising her young family with her husband. Yas is one of those people who can achieve what might seemingly feel impossible. If you think you can’t, Yas will find a way you can. In November 2015, Yas resigned from an industry role she loved, to fulfill a family dream of travelling Australia in a caravan on what she calls a ‘Family Gap Year’. Yas kept her role and currently works full-time and fully flexibly with avt (AV Technology), developing the Customer Experience, in what she calls ‘Australia’s most flexible role’.

Please drop your questions in the comments below and I will make sure that she sees them.

1.Describe your journey in the AV industry? How did it start?

My first exposure to AV was 20 years ago in 1997. I was working for an office supply company in Brisbane, they had just begun selling the PLUS range of projectors (I still remember the PLUS PJ-020). I really loved the technology, however the company was only dabbling in the technology at the time, so I sought to work for an AV company in Brisbane. I literally picked up the phone telemarketer style and was able to secure interviews with competing companies. Long story short, the timing was great and it was at Videopro where I officially began my career. The role was a newly created to specifically focus on projectors for the Education vertical. I was just 21 at the time! There weren’t many rules and I was trusted, empowered to grow the business. I guess you could say I was an ‘Intrapreneur’. In total, I spent 13 years at Videopro and I feel as though a big part of me ‘grew up’ there.

The first 8 years were spent leading and expanding the new Education vertical. We were quite often the largest supplier annually in Australia of data projectors for both Sony and NEC, and considering we traded only in Queensland, it speaks volumes for the culture and calibre of the team. It was in 2006 that I started my family, and Videopro experimented with me working flexibly and full-time in a ‘special project’ role. All this happened when ‘working from home’ was more frowned upon, and flexibility in the workplace was virtually non-existent. Looking back, I realise that Videopro were flexible and agile long before they were even ‘things’. It was a great company to work for.

2.What do you think are the challenges that are facing a new person who wants to join the industry.

The industry is changing rapidly; I feel the biggest challenge is *change* and our ability to shift with speed and agility. Change is very tough! AV flows through the veins of many industry experts and loyalists, which I see as both a strength and a challenge. It’s easy to stay comfortable by looking back at results and success, then pat ourselves on the back and continue doing much of the same, but I feel we expose ourselves to great risk by doing so. Disruption and convergence is well and truly upon us. I like to say that ‘it’s time to be comfortable being uncomfortable’, and believe that this is where the magic happens. We need to speed up and let go of the shackles holding us back from trying new and crazy things never done before in our industry. Disruption is exciting!!

My favourite book on the topic change is Dr Spencer Johnson’s “Who Moved my Cheese” and I love to share this little You Tube fable to demonstrate the different ways we all react to change.

3.What are the positives of working in this industry?

Technology is fun and constantly changing, so it’s definitely one of the biggest positives in our industry. The IoT – wow, strap in for that and enjoy the ride, it creates so much opportunity for us all. I also enjoy the ‘intimacy’ of our industry, it is like one big family. When I was younger, I kept quite closed off and didn’t interact much with competitors. In the past, when people moved on, I somewhat struggled to understand how to maintain genuine relationships with people who were once team members, and now competitors. Now that I’m older (and a little wiser  🙂 ) I realise that it doesn’t matter where we all ‘work’, we are all part of one big family and our passion runs deep for this industry. It (the industry and opportunity) is big enough for all of us to play together nicely, and then lay our heads down on the pillow nightly knowing that we are making a difference to businesses and people far and wide.

4.What in your opinion would you change in the industry? What are the negatives that are prevalent ?

This is a tough question to answer, as I risk coming across as a pro-feminist warrior, which is completely not the case, however it goes without saying that our industry has low gender diversity. If I had the opportunity to do so, I would immediately focus on increasing diversity in our industry here in Australia, with a focus on gender, race and age. I would want to see more millennials (male and female) on the front line, bringing fresh and new ideas to traditional AV businesses. I would challenge businesses to actively seek female representation in their leadership and executive teams, and while even as I type this out, I know it’s not going to be met with popularity, every piece of data I have read about women in the C-Suite correlates with business success. Diversity is a true disruptor and will ignite an increase in profits, performance and attraction of a new type of AV industry professional. Even though it’s uncomfortable (for some), diversity makes us all better. I won’t lie though; a small part of me wishes I could have answered this question as a man! Right or wrong, I think it’s easier to promote (or let’s call it ‘sell’) diversity in our industry when it comes from the mouth of a man. 🙂

[RELATED] : If you have missed any of the previous interviews, please click here.

5.Describe your ideal client? What do you wish clients to know before hiring you.

My ideal client, let’s call it my ‘utopia’, is a client who seeks to make a human connection, something far beyond the product. When I was younger, I go through every specification, lumen, resolution of almost every product we supplied. I take a very different approach these days, with products becoming less relevant and relationships being the priority. I love the *love* factor and actively seek clients looking for genuine relationships. I would wish for clients to know that I can be trusted and relied upon without any need or guarantee of us doing business together. I am honest and seek to go on a journey together to solve problems, to deeply understand strategy, to become partners where trust and transparency are at the core of everything we do. I also like to try new things, stretch and shift, aligning organisational capabilities with the client needs now and in the future. The perfect client for me is one who sees value in this.

My priority will always be to support the client beyond expectation, even if it means trying something that’s never been done before, this is where I have the most fun!! I love to say *yes*, I know it’s not always possible, but it’s something I always strive for.

6.If you were going to start over, what would you do differently ?

This is a great question! Tough too! There’s no doubt in my mind that if I were going to start over, I would be a better leader in the early years. At age 21, I had absolutely no idea! I was a young woman in a strong male dominated industry, trying to grow a vertical with the trust to do whatever was needed. The business celebrated success, and this success was achieved by men in our company at the time. It’s ironic, Customer Experience is my native genius, I absolutely *love* customers. At the time, some would argue that no other team provided the level of service that our team did. We were renowned for excellence, response time, speed, knowledge, expertise and we regularly WOW’ed the market. What I personally failed to do was provide this same experience for the team, our internal customers, arguably the most important customers of all. Now that I’m older (and wiser J), I realise that I wore some kind of ‘mask’, perhaps in some way to appear ‘tougher’, in order to survive and thrive. I look back and feel like I let some really great people down by not upskilling my leadership skills sooner.

The ‘soft skills’ or ‘human skills’ as I like to call them, are the highest of priorities. While I can’t turn back time and start over, I believe that my mistakes and shortcomings have shaped me into an even stronger leader now. I now seek to ‘make a difference’ in everything I do, including the Employee Experience. Making a difference is my ‘Why’!

7.Describe a typical work day for you. What are your daily disciplines?

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My typical work day is unique. For the past 17 months, I have been travelling Australia with my family in a caravan, as we do a ‘big lap’ on what was originally a ‘family gap year’.

I resigned from my current position at avt (AV Technology) to achieve this dream. Instead of leaving, I was offered the incredible opportunity to continue working full-time and fully flexibly as we travel. My day therefore varies not only in location, but in structure of my calendar too.

I tend to wake very early (circa 5am), which means I get a jump on the day. I always start the day with some exercise, it’s my meditation and reflection time, and I am a better parent and employee when I incorporate training in my day. I set myself a goal of running every single day in 2017, and I just clocked over 700km’s for the year (so far), so it’s usually a short 5km run to kick off the day, followed by some journaling before breakfast with my family. The girls (ages 10 and 9) are home-schooled while we travel, so my hubby (who is super human) does all the education and this means I aim to get my work done while the girls do theirs. Then we tend to take some time out together to explore the surroundings, which means we end up on the beach, climbing mountains, riding bikes and even geocaching. We sometimes work in libraries, café’s, parks and even in the caravan, it really does differ every single day. We don’t have a standard routine!

If we’re driving, I literally work with the laptop, that way we can chill out together when we arrive at our next destination. Some days I do have a jam-packed calendar with meetings, and on those days, my family will go out exploring without me. People often ask me if I feel like I’m ‘missing out’ when they go out solo…..my answer is always *no way*. I have spent more time with my family this past 17 months, even taking into consideration the days when I’m not with them. I couldn’t have wished for a more perfect adventure both personally and professionally.

My philosophy is all about work-life integration as opposed to ‘balance’. The girls have had such an incredible exposure to business life too, they’re interested in all the happenings of my role and often ask questions about customers, colleagues and business. I have no doubt that the *education* for them along the way has been so much more than school text books. They even pop their heads into Skype and Zoom calls with the office to say hi!

Most nights when the family is sleeping, I wrap up my day and prepare for the next day ahead. I’m a real early bird and night owl and love the fact that I can choose when and where I work without any ‘eyes’ watching over me. Trust and transparency from the business enables this and it’s an incredible way to work.

My daily disciplines extend to my life and I’m ok at ‘eating frogs’, which means I get the ugly and most challenging tasks done first thing in the morning, and it seems to make the rest of the day easier. If you haven’t already read the book, Brian Tracey’s ‘Eat that Frog’ absolutely changed my life and helps with daily discipline.

8.Describe the apps and gear that you use daily which makes you more productive?

It goes without saying that I use Skype and Zoom regularly, to connect with team members and customers too. One of the most incredible tools is the Atlassian suite of products, particularly JIRA and Confluence, which I use both on my phone and on my computer. Our company use the agile methodology throughout most teams, and this enables the flexibility, not just in my role, but in others across our company. I am a big LinkedIn reader, and use Navigator too and this keeps me connected to thought leaders and industry experts, I really love to learn and feel that LinkedIn is a great tool to filter relevant articles to keep me productive. I love Pocket Hits too, which lets me save articles of interest for later reading. The benefit of this is the capability to read the articles while ‘offline’. It makes for great use of driving time through the remote stretches of Australia where there’s no telephone range. My morning runs also consist of me listening to Podcasts or books on Audible, it always has me asking questions and challenging myself to evolve and innovate.

9. How do you stay relevant in the industry.

As I mentioned above, I love to learn and ensure I’m a member of relevant industry groups. With Customer Experience being my ‘native genius’ and passion, I always seek to stay relevant with trends in this area. I tend to habitually make good use of the ‘loose time’, which means the time that typically escapes us when we’re not thinking about it mindfully. By being conscious of the loose time, I have inadvertently created a habit of using this time to read and educate myself in a broad range of topics influencing our industry. I also love to learn from others and often find myself lost in research, taking and making pages of notes in my journal to reflect upon. I carry my journal with me everywhere! I always look for the ‘good’ in others and have a natural tendency to admire the strengths of individuals I meet. The habit of looking for the ‘good and glad’ has me intrigued to learn as much as I can from everyone I meet in our industry. The people I meet and the time we spend together has truly shaped who I am today.

I think I’m somehow attracted to doing things differently, even though it sometimes gets me into trouble and doesn’t always make me popular :-). I’m not afraid to ask questions and seek to improve and evolve systems, processes and business functions.

Most people are ‘too busy’ (aren’t we all? :-)), but if we keep our heads are up and stay engaged, it’s amazing what can be achieved. It’s so easy to get lost in our own world, distracted by our tasks, email, social media and the dreaded iPhone/Android permanently stuck on our hips, but everyone’s doing this right? For me, I’m looking where it’s less populated. I believe it’s a place where you can stumble upon relevance before it’s relevant.

Ultimately, it’s much easier to stay relevant when the blinkers are off and you’re listening, sensing and feeling the landscape.

For more information about Yasmin Grigaliunas , please find a few links.
LinkedIn – welcoming new genuine connections
Twitter @yasgrigaliunas
Facebook – a timeline of our Family Gap Year travels
Instagram – in pictures, some of the amazing adventures
avt – My current employer, enabling full-time and fully flexible

*****

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Ajish Raju

About Ajish Raju

Ajish Raju is co-founder and Chief Evangelist of Favante. He loves traveling, trying new cuisines and gadgets. Reach him at ajish@ajishraju.me