Name: Gina Sansivero
Title: Director of Business Development, Education
Overtime: Sansivero is most influenced in life by her immigrant grandparents who embodied a respect for traditions and experiences of the past but understood the need to move forward, keep learning, and embrace new experiences.
SCN: At what point did you realize that you were destined for a career in technology?
Gina Sansivero: Interesting question. How many of those in the AV industry knew we would end up here? I think not many. Most people I talk to just “happened upon it.” The same is true for me. Problem is, now that I found it—or it found me—I won’t give it up. This industry is stuck with me.
SCN: You started your career working in product development with medical device components. How did that lead you to into AV?
GS: I loved working with the team at the medical components company, but I knew I had reached a plateau there. I was motivated to keep moving forward and wanted to continually learn more and try different things, professionally. I found a listing for a marketing position on Career Builder for a local start-up R&D firm that focused on optics. I am going to over simplify this, but one of the projects that was being developed at the company was an innovative light source for projectors. That first year (2005), two months after I was hired, I attended my first InfoComm. I was hooked!
SCN: During your nine-year tenure at Projector Lamp Services, you came to lead Project Green AV. What was it like to organically develop your experiences from the former into the latter?
GS: Project Green AV was a labor of love. I love the industry, have a passion for environmental responsibility, and I enjoy educating and helping others. I saw a need to create a forum for dialogue about responsible AV installations, products, and tools. The lack of information out there at the time was astounding. When we started PGAV, I had only been at PLS for a few years. My experiences working with passionate and well- respected individuals in the AV industry fueled me and their support (most notably from Elizabeth Eames, Steve Greenblatt, Christopher Maione, Mary Meeker, among many others) was, and still is, invaluable. PLS, PGAV, and now FSR are all wonderful paths to new learning experiences. They continue to mold who I am today and will determine where I want to go from here.
SCN: How do you compare the challenges you looked to solve then to the business challenges that integrators face today?
GS: As PLS progressed from a start-up to an organized and stable business, the projection market became more saturated and mature. Lamp prices fell by more than 50 percent in less than a couple years and then continued to fall. We were—gasp—commoditized and left trying to figure out how to remain profitable and relevant. I see a lot of the same challenges in the integration world. Equipment is less profitable and integration companies are carving out a new path for themselves—a service-focused business model. Ultimately, the key component necessary to this type of business’ stability and growth (and likely all types of business) is partnership. Effective partnership is only built through trust, respect, and confidence shared between clients, peers, competitors, and mentors.
Sansivero embraces the ability to learn from new experiences. She recently travelled to Montana for business, yet she made sure to take some time out to support some of the local customs. SCN: Currently, You are responsible for FSR’s growth in the education market. What areas and initiatives have your efforts been most focused on?
GS: My goals are to keep FSR products visible to the education market, to help expand FSR’s line by providing market feedback to our engineering department, and to help FSR maintain its reputation as a leader among AV manufacturers and an approachable and established partner to all facets of our industry. I do this by focusing on targeted face-to-face shows, meetings, and conferences; creating content to educate and communicate; being involved and active in relevant associations, outlets, and communities; and continually learning, strengthening, and expanding my knowledge, connections, and skills. I want to help make FSR memorable. I think it helps that I sincerely enjoy people. This probably sounds corny, but each person I meet has the ability to affect my world through his or her own knowledge and experiences.
SCN: What’s the biggest challenge to overcome in ed-tech today?
GS: Aside from the always present budgetary limitations, ed-tech managers have the big challenge of trying to navigate how to design, install, and maintain a successful technology enriched classroom environment. Successful—meaning a space that is used by faculty and students in a way that results in meaningful student outcomes and increased comprehension and engagement. Schools are seeing encouraging results when curriculum becomes more collaborative and students drive content conversations. Technology is the cornerstone of this type of classroom.
SCN: How do you envision the way commercial AV integration in the education vertical is headed?
GS: Ed-tech managers are becoming more involved in the design and installation process. They are cooperating with consultants and integrators on the specifics of their jobs more frequently. They are creating campus standards to which integrators must adhere (or integrators must make a very strong case to change it.) Technology managers have their own guidelines and ratings developed exclusively for classrooms. Integrators and consultants should be knowledgeable about these guidelines and understand the trends in classroom technology design. Ed Tech managers are definitely more educated on technologies and products than managers from other markets. They often share information with each other about successes, experiences, and challenges, and many can be focused on in-house design and solutions.
SCN: What types of products and/or services are you looking to solve integrators’ problems with?
GS: FSR has always been flexible and responsive. That’s one of the reasons I love working here. If an integrator or consultant needs a product modified or has any ideas for new products, FSR is quick to engineer a valuable solution. Right now, the focus for education seems to be on four items: collaborative spaces, reduction of space for equipment storage, AV/IT connectivity and signal distribution over network, and bring your own devices. FSR is working hard to continue to design solutions that address those four challenges.
SCN: What influential experience from your background most informs your business objectives today?
GS: I believe my grandparents’ background has most influenced who I am both personally and professionally. They moved here from Italy after WWII and struggled for their family. My grandfather’s challenge (besides work) was trying to balance the two places he loved most, Italy and America. He adored the traditions of his mother country and was proud to have fought as an Italian Sailor in the war. But he knew that America took him in and gave his family opportunities that they would not have had in a post-war, depressed Italy. For that he was grateful. He learned to love American baseball (the Mets, of course), but still supported the Italians during the World Cup. He spoke to his grandchildren in broken English, but his wife in affectionate Italian. He saved money to buy grapes to make wine in his NYC basement every year…merging the old country and his new home. Simply put, he had respect for and learned from the traditions and experiences of the past, but he understood the need to continue to move forward, to keep learning, and to embrace new experiences. I keep that lesson with me every day.
Lindsey M. Adler is editor of SCN. Follow her on Twitter @lindseymadler.