A Conversation with Charmaine Torruella Ahead of LAVNCH WEEK 2.0

Charmaine Torruella is the moderator for our upcoming panel on UCC (Unified Communications & Collaboration) Day of LAVNCH WEEK 2.0, a day of LAVNCH WEEK that we’re all really excited about, and not just because so many of us are working from home and constantly using Zoom/Teams/WebEx/BlueJeans/Google Meet (though video fatigue is now a thing) and we can finally explain to our families — well, sort of — what we do in the AV industry.

While our UCC Day panel isn’t until Monday, June 22, I had the pleasure of virtually meeting with Charmine Torruella this week and getting a behind-the-scenes look — perks of working at rAVe! — of her plans for the panel, which she’s organizing as we speak, all while balancing her day-to-day duties as global services manager for integrator Verrex and as chairperson of the AVIXA Diversity Council.

Keep reading for the preview.

Charmaine Torruella headshot next to Verrex logo

This is an interview with Charmaine Torruella, as written by Leah McCann. It has been edited for clarity. 

LM: I’d love to hear more about your background and your experience as global services manager for Verrex. Can you tell me a bit about your history in AV?

CT: Well, professionally, I started in the telecommunications and IT world about 1998, and I basically evolved with technology …. After 9/11 happened, more people were graduating toward video … video was coming online, so I shifted. I shifted to a client company: a big publishing house, where I worked for a database as a customer coordinator …. And then I went to InterCall, which was an IT company selling collaboration tools, mainly cloud UC tools — a lot of Webex; a lot of Microsoft Live Meeting when that was a thing; and some video, as well as event conferencing streaming services. Then, from there, I left AV because after the financial crisis in 2008, that’s when everyone was really restricting travel unless really necessary, and they were bringing their videoconferencing needs into the boardroom instead of going onsite, so that’s when AV had a nice uptick …. And I went to AVI-SPL. So then I went back into the network world, worked for Level(3), which is now CenturyLink. And then, after that, I left and decided I wanted to go back to AV. And I’ve been in AV ever since, for the last 10 years.

LM: With such a great range of experiences, what ultimately made you choose AV (as opposed to IT, etc.)?

CT: AV gives you the ability to be creative. And AV gives you the ability to be innovative in what you do for customers — where, in IT, it’s just the same thing, over and over, for the most part; there’s not a lot of creativity unless something new or different [comes along] or an upgrade to a product launches. AV is the only sector in technology that gives me the creativity to come up with any kind of solution depending on what the client needs. So it’s more consultative, and that’s why I’ve been here ever since.

LM: Fantastic. So I’m really excited to hear — what will your panel revolve around on UCC Day of LAVNCH WEEK 2.0?

CT: So on UCC Day for LAVNCH WEEK, what I want is to have a panel that really hits the AV world and the AV tech managers, giving them more insights and information as to where UC is going and how to develop strategies and solutions for UC within their respective environments — and for clients. The thing the AV world always had trouble with is UC strategy, because AV is a part of UC. AV is not UC; it’s a component. That’s a hard grasp in our world — to realize AV is a component of UC, and it has to speak to all the other components that make up UC.

LM: What are the major concerns and opportunities you see for UCC now and in the future?

CT: The ball is slipping through our hands to where the traditional AV houses have not been able to really get into UC solutions and producing that for their customer strategies … so that’s what I want for them to come away with from the panel. I also want them to come away with, you know, the knowledge of what’s required — to have a UC solution and to implement it. What kind of resources, what kind of skill sets do they need? There’s digital signage and other components that fit into UC. There’s the cloud component — such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom … Jabber — that falls into it, that a lot of AV organizations don’t really work with. They implement the peripherals to work with it, but they don’t understand those cloud solutions and how they work in general, or [understand] what network is required …. I want them to learn how to have these discussions with end users and organizations, [to] have these discussions amongst themselves internally to help themselves develop a format of how to map out a UC strategy and [a] UC technology road map, not only for themselves but for the end users they service.

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LM: That’s wonderful. By the way, do you know who will be joining you on the panel yet?

CT: The panel’s going to consist of an end user or two; a UC veteran — someone who’s worked in both AV and IT and has consulted with UC strategies and solutions and has a business that operates to do that; also, an integrator who can talk about how they implement it. It’s going to be a well-rounded panel from end user to the person who consults … to the person who implements it. The full cycle, because that’s what UC is — “unified.” The full cycle and a group that manages that in perpetuity.

LM: As the audience of UCC Day will largely be AV integrators (along with EdTech managers and some end users), what do you want this group to take away after the panel?

CT: I want the audience to be prepared — it’s a different conversation than they’re used to. It’s something they should really be open to listening to and embracing …. Environments are going to start working very differently from what AV is used to — for the purposes of social distancing, [etc.] Most organizations are going to keep their environments home until the end of this year; not all of it, but a good portion of it. This changes what the AV world, how the AV world, can support these clients. Everything is changing. And UC is going to be a way through.

LM: Any last thoughts to leave our audience with before the live panel on Monday?

CT: UC is unlike AV, because it’s more of a “consultative proposition.” When a customer or someone has a need, it’s not “OK, what do you need? What have you got?” You really have to do a consultation to figure out what their environment is like …. It’s similar to AV, but it’s a lot more consultative in that you have to factor other areas that AV doesn’t usually think about — like a cloud solution, telephony … are they using voice … do they want to integrate that with everything that they’re going to do? Do they want to tie it all together? It’s a different conversation altogether than [the one] people are used to having. And AV is not used to speaking to the kind of technology managers that are responsible for making the UC decision. They have to learn how to get that information and what questions to ask …. There’s a lot of good candy for the AV community to snack on.

Don’t miss Charmaine Torruella and the full UCC Day panel during LAVNCH WEEK 2.0 on Monday, June 22. Register here, and visit rave.pub/LAVNCHweek2 to learn all about LAVNCH WEEK.