When Gisela Torino doesn’t like the sound of something, she changes it.
Gisela Torina, CTS-I, CQT, CQD, is a certified system specialist at Audio Visual Resources, Inc. For some, growing up in the Mendoza province of Argentina—wine country—may lead to aspirations of becoming a master sommelier. But Torino was drawn to music, most notably, the technology that made it sound the way it did. “I played in a band when I was very, very young, and I was trying to change my sound,” she recounted. “I started taking apart all of the effects pedals and changing their components. Later, I got an internship at a recording studio and I totally fell in love with all of the equipment and how it shaped sound.” Drawn to physics, Torino studied civil engineering in Argentina before moving to the United States, where she worked in live sound production and pursued an education in electrical engineering, a discipline which seemed to go hand-in-hand with her interest in audio. “I think recording and effects, along with managing and shaping sound were always very appealing to me because, in a way, you involve the art side and the physics side.”
So far, Torino’s educational efforts have resulted in a respectable list of certifications on top of her EET degree: CTS-I, CQT, and CQD. As a certified system specialist at Audio Visual Resources, Inc. (AVR), an AV design and integration firm based in Mineola, N.Y., she, as her company bio attests, “does a little bit of everything,” including project management and leadership, design, programming, installation, third-party testing and verification, and staff training. She’s often required to switch gears and adjust to different roles quickly, sometimes within the course of the same day: “each role requires me to access relevant knowledge and experience in very specific ways. It’s like sometimes I’m a wrestler, others a magician, a traffic officer, or even a mad scientist.” Because of this, Torino notes that it’s necessary to have the right people supporting her. “For me, it is important to work with people I can trust. A team of experienced, but also reliable professionals,” she said. “If I’m wearing this specific hat today—the programmer hat, for example––I need to be able to trust that those doing the engineering, the install, or the design, are also doing a good job. I’m very happy to be a part of a very good company. The group of people that I work with right now is amazing.” Which is a good thing, since sometimes she��s the one that calls the shots, and other times, she’s answering to a colleague.
Gisela Torina & colleagues at work on a project. Torino also believes that AV can learn some things from how IT professionals approach projects. “In IT, the needs analysis results from a thorough investigation of how the client is going to use the system, and this completely determines the choice of equipment. However, in AV, sometimes we get carried away with technology for its own sake: ‘we have all of this technology, we can do all of these fancy things,’ but at the end of the day, can the client use it? I think we still need to get stronger on how we approach the final product by adding emphasis on how the system conforms to the user’s requirements.”
She also knows that tech managers, who are sometimes the end users, play a role in how successful a project turns out, and Torino urges them to push for the best results—even if those results don’t seem possible in the beginning. “Technology managers are starting to realize how much power they have, which is excellent because they are the ones that really shape the industry,” she said. “The best systems, sometimes, come out of very specific needs of the clients. I would say that it’s very important for them to very clearly communicate what they’re looking for. A unique challenge with a clear purpose could lead to innovation.” This ties back into conducting a thorough needs analysis and requires designers, integrators, and tech managers to hash out the gritty details, especially since the same set of equipment can be configured to achieve many different things and have a big stake in how everything turns out.”
Carolyn Heinze is a regular AV Technology contributor.