My (Skewed) Take on Women in the AV Industry

I was at InfoComm Connections in San Jose on March 3rd and 4th and had the opportunity to meet up with my industry peers.  One of those opportunities was presented to me by QSC’s Cory Schaeffer in the form of an invitation to come over to McCormick and Schmick’s for the Women in InfoComm mixer.  I never miss a chance to network so of course I went, and as a result met many extremely intelligent and talented women from our industry and this was NOT a surprise to me whatsoever.

You see, even though I understand that on a larger scale the AV industry needs more women in leadership and technical roles, my personal experience in AV has been one where every company I have worked for has had strong female leadership.

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When I started in the AV industry in 2002, I joined a small home theater integrator in Scottsdale, AZ named iWired. My immediate boss was iWired’s president Maggie George, a former telecommunications marketing executive turned entrepreneur who leveraged her relationships with home builders like DR Horton and Toll Brothers to take iWired from a 6 person $500,000 company to a 100 employee, $10,000,000 integrator in under 5 years.

When I was recruited out of iWired, I opened an AZ branch for a San Diego based residential integrator named ONteriors.  There I reported to Karen Davis, president of ONteriors and a former Gateway computer executive who was able to secure a preferred relationship with a master planned community developer in several states.

When I moved to California to work for my first solely commercial AV integrator, Mad Systems, my boss was VP of Sales and Co-Owner Tricia Rodriguez.  She had amazing industry relationships that assured Mad Systems was always on the short list for high end museum and visitor center projects against some much larger and better known competitors.

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Now at Milestone, I work with some amazing women in several key executive and management roles like Laurie Englert in Customer Experience, Susan Welter in Human Resources, Karen Mefford, Karen Smidt, and Jessi Larson in Marketing, and Wendy Cox, Kathryn Gaskell and Gina Schneider in Product Development and Product Management.

And, although I obviously never worked with her but since I now represent her brand, Da-Lite’s founder Adele Di Berri persevered and found success starting a new screen company 107 years ago, despite the male dominated business world that existed in almost every industry at that time.

As you may have noticed these women all play key roles in everything from Leadership to Sales to Marketing to Operations to Product Management.  So though I understand from the experiences of others that we have some work to do to make women feel welcome in the industry and to create diversity in the opportunities available to them, my limited personal experience in 4 AV companies over the last 14 years is one of many strong female leaders succeeding in varied and challenging roles.

I feel blessed that I have had the opportunity to work with such strong, talented women, and I am hopeful that the efforts of organizations like Women in InfoComm will assure that many others will have the same opportunity to do the same.  Who knows, my two daughters may even join the AV ranks some day.  I just hope that for their sake, HDMI is gone by then! (I had to sneak that in somewhere!)

Have you worked with an amazing leading lady of AV?  Share your experiences in the comments.

 

About Mark Coxon

Mark Coxon is an AV industry native and blogger for the rAVe BlogSquad. You can reach him directly at mark@marketexplosion.me.