In my biweekly blog series, I am highlighting some of the incredible people who work for the Audio Video Industry. In this post, we are profiling Amelia Vrabel. Here is a brief introduction.
Amelia Vrabel is VP Channels at Mersive Technologies.
1. Describe your journey in the AV industry? How did it start?
Some would say that my first foray into AV was when I started working for Extron in 2005 after moving to Southern California. I studied engineering in college and spent the first seven years of my career working for a large semiconductor equipment manufacturer in the Bay Area, helping customers develop processes and build out fabs for next generation computer chips. This was a wonderful opportunity to travel throughout the US and internationally, and work with a diverse group of people. Although I realized pretty early on that I didn’t want to be a traditional “engineer” it has been very helpful for me to have a technical background because I enjoy learning about and helping others adopt technology.
Since joining the AV industry, I have had the opportunity to work for several world class manufacturers and I shifted from the hardware to the software side when I joined Mersive in 2018. Mersive is a unique company in this industry as we continue to innovate with our Solstice software what had formerly required multiple pieces of hardware. My role at Mersive is to lead our channel sales efforts and develop strong and lasting relationships with our Channel Partners who sell and deploy Solstice. In addition to working closely with our channel, I also enjoy working with a variety of wonderful people within our organization including Sales, Marketing, Operations, and Product Development. Mersive has a strong spirit of innovation and it is exciting to be part of this dynamic and growing team.
However like many others in our industry, the “A” part of the AV began much earlier. I have been a musician since age 3 when I began playing the violin. I also studied piano, flute, and viola throughout my childhood and through college. And although I don’t play any more as much as I might like – there are still a number of valuable lessons I learned as a musician that are helpful in my daily life especially surrounding developing and practicing good habits that translate well to learning anything new. Also, when you learn an instrument at such a young age – you learn by ear (at that age you don’t read words, let alone notes), so I definitely have deep appreciation for good quality audio and I love music of all genres.
2. What do you think are the challenges that are facing a new person who wants to join the industry?
One of the major challenges of our industry is that many people who might want to join don’t even know about it enough to consider it. For someone who does find an interest it may be difficult to determine where best to enter the industry or how to find a mentor who can help them explore their best path to success.
For many women it can be intimidating to enter AV as this industry is very male dominated. I didn’t find this to be as much of an issue for me personally, since I have been in male dominated fields long before I joined AV – so I was used to it in a way and understood some of the challenges involved. But for many this is new territory and it can be harder to find women leaders to look up to. The AVIXA Women’s Council has made wonderful progress over the last few years to help women overcome this barrier. I am proud to have been one of the founding members of the AVIXA WC Denver group almost two years ago.
We still face challenges as women in earning respect in a male dominated industry particularly on the technical side. I still remember visiting an integrator with a manufacturer rep just a few years ago and someone asking if he was bringing his assistant to the meeting. (His answer shocked them when he said “No, she’s the boss”!) I like to encourage technically minded women that there are many good opportunities for them in this industry and I hope we continue to grow more diverse in all areas as time goes on and we collectively continue to work on these efforts.
3. What are the positives of working in this industry?
I really enjoy the people in this industry as well as the broad array of opportunities that exist for hard working and dedicated people of all backgrounds.
I find a number of people in this industry are here because they are exploring their passions and they truly love this industry. I feel this is a big reason why although some move around in different roles and capacities, many never leave the industry itself. The saddest part for me about having InfoComm cancelled this year was really that after all this time it feels like a big “reunion” of friends. Many of us have moved around are in different roles than when we first met but the relationships are strong and lasting.
I also feel this industry affords many opportunities to those who work hard and are creative especially in the face of change. You can come into this industry with virtually no knowledge or expertise, but if you are willing to work hard and learn, there are many opportunities to go into multiple directions.
[RELATED] : If you have missed any of my previous interviews, please click here.
4. What in your opinion would you change in the industry? What are the negatives that are prevalent ?
I would like to see the AV industry continue to be more diverse and attract fresh talent. I’ve mentioned a few challenges facing women in this industry and want to inspire other women to pursue leadership roles. I am very appreciative of all the people in our industry – men and women – who have been supportive of creating a more diverse environment. I am also grateful to work for an organization that recognizes and celebrates diversity in our own company, as it makes us a stronger and more creative organization.
5. Describe your ideal client? What do you wish clients to know before hiring you?
My favorite clients and customers – internally and externally – are those who value the relationship and communicate well, good news or bad.
I love feedback of all types and I always like to be in a position to add value to my clients/customers and respond quickly and effectively to them when they face challenges. While it’s always wonderful to hear good news from your customers, I really appreciate the ones who share the bad news with me so that I can do something about it and help them. Some of the strongest relationships I have today are with customers who I once helped out of a tough situation.
6. If you were going to start over, what would you do differently ?
This is a hard question but I don’t think I would do anything differently, because I feel all the little twists and turns we take in our past are what gets us to where we are today.
For instance, I studied engineering in college even though I figured out pretty early on that it wasn’t for me to be in a lab all day. But because I was in the engineering program, I learned a lot of valuable skills in problem solving and critical thinking – skills that are valuable in any role. Also being in the engineering program gave me the ability to be in the co-op program, so my first “corporate” office job was at 18 years old. I had the experience to work in an office environment at a very young age and learn some softer skills that are not always taught through formal education. And it paid the rest of the way through college. So had I done something differently there I might be in a far different place today. That’s why I don’t really believe in looking back and saying “what if”… there is no “what if”, only what is present.
7. Describe a typical work day for you. What are your daily disciplines?
A typical day for me is waking up around 5:00am and starting my day with some gratitude, meditation, and exercise. I’ve been a distance runner for almost 25 years and this time alone outdoors helps me clear my head and start my day full of energy. I’m also a Master ChiRunning instructor and running coach and have helped hundreds of runners to enjoy running as a mindful practice and remain injury free while staying fit and healthy. I spend much of my own practice working on different areas of focus and different ways to help others find the joy in running – whether they are just getting started, training for a marathon, or their goal is to enjoy running as a lifelong practice.
I like to keep my days pretty well scheduled and spend a lot of time in meetings with team members and partners. In these days they are pretty much all done virtually, but in normal times I also love to travel and visit people face to face. I also love to experience the culture of different cities, so I miss being able to do this and look forward to getting back out there again.
Regardless of when I’m at home or away – before I wind down for the day I like to prepare for the next day so that I am ready to go once the new day begins. I also have found one of my best and simplest life hacks is to set my coffee pot the night before – it makes waking up and getting a jump start on the next morning so much easier!
8. Describe the apps and gear that you use daily which makes you more productive?
I use a wide variety of apps and have several different practices that keep me productive but to name a few – 1) a notebook. Nothing really replaces the value of being able to write down important information. There’s a part of your brain that connects to information when you write it down – even if you never read it again. But usually I do find myself reading and referring to my notes again so they are very helpful. 2) my standing desk – it keeps me active during the day and I am definitely much more focused and engaged in almost any conversation when I’m standing versus sitting. 3) My favorite daily use app is the Five Minute Journal. If you can start your day with a few pieces of gratitude, personal goals for making the day amazing, and a few key affirmations – you’re already starting your day well ahead of the pack.
9. How do you stay relevant in this industry?
I read, watch, listen, and try to learn as much as I can about technology and also about human behavior as this industry is ultimately about building spaces where humans and work and collaborate with each other effectively. This time of pandemic has been very interesting to see the acceleration of change in areas that were in need of improvement, what works, and where there are still gaps.
I also like to use LinkedIn and Twitter to stay connected to industry friends, partners, and customers. These tools have helped me learn more about and connect with a diverse set of people in our industry from a personal level as well as provide perspective on what challenges others in different roles might be facing. We can all learn from the challenges of others as we may find ourselves one day trying to solve similar problems.
To know much more, please connect on Linkedin.