Amanda Wildman is an integrator, designer, writer, and advisor in the consumer technology field. Connected Design had the chance to sit down with Amanda to discuss her recent work in connected technology. Here is what she had to say about working in the field as a woman, how the industry has evolved, and what needs to happen to promote growth in the CE industry.
Connected Design: Amanda, in the past decade, you have served in the industry in various roles. How do these roles in the industry intersect to create your unique role in the consumer technology industry?
Amanda: I have a variety of hats that I get to wear each day. First, I am the co-owner of TruMedia with my husband, where I work directly with our employees, clients, and our design/build community. I can create experiences our clients want in their homes, and I also get to work directly with our design/build community to use technology to enhance their vision.
As a technician, I spend about 60 percent of my time hands-on. I get to work with products directly with installations and programming, and I also take sales calls. Integrators are there right from the start (hopefully), and we stay until the end. This part of the job is extremely rewarding because we see how everything works together and, most importantly, the client’s reaction.
My husband jokingly calls me a ‘Professional Volunteer’ for CEDIA, but there have been so many people who have supported and mentored me, so this is how I give back to them and the industry. My biggest passions are education and workforce development, and I have been involved with the Certification Commission. Certifications and standards are where we can take our industry to the next level. We, as integrators, need to create a pathway into this career with education and milestones supported by standards and industry best practices. It is important that when I step into that board room, help develop a certification or speak in a class, I represent my integrator community and honor it well.
Connected Design: You recently attended the Design + Tech Summit in New York City, hosted by the NKBA Manhattan Chapter. What did you discuss, and why do you think events like this are important to our industry?
Amanda: It was a wonderful day to share with designers how integrators can complement their work. My segment: ‘Keeping it Real’, focused on introducing designers to what integrators do and how we can create relationships. It was encouraging to see designers excited about technology and want to add it to their projects. Designers can ask questions and learn that technology does not have to be confusing or scary. I am excited to see more of these events happening throughout the year, especially the KBIS show in January!
Connected Design: What made you start your technology blog TruTech Insights?
Amanda: My husband encouraged me. I had been going to CEDIA Expos, and I did not see a lot of female voices, especially in technical classes. It frustrated me, and when I would express my frustrations to my husband, he said: “Well, you’re a woman. You understand technology. Why aren’t you out there writing about it?” He was the catalyst for me stepping out of my comfort zone and sharing my voice.
Connected Design: How has being a woman affected your experience in the CE industry?
Amanda: Unfortunately, people will still ask if I need to check with my husband to make sure that something will work or if something will blow up. But it is getting much better. Something that helps fix that stigma is what you are doing right now, highlighting diversity in our industry. When you share stories highlighting women and other marginalized groups working non-traditional roles in our industry, it normalizes us in those roles. Then clients are not as shocked to see us working in those positions. As a whole industry, we must support and show diversity in every position, including leadership. The good news is we are seeing more women in leadership at CEDIA. Four women sit on the CEDIA board of directors for the first time: Jamie Briesemeister, Melanie Malcom, Jennifer Mallett, and me. The goal is to lift more people up on our way to the top. We are stronger together.
Connected Design: How has consumer technology evolved over the past decade, and how has TruMedia kept up with the constant changes in the industry?
Amanda: I am so geeked about everything that is happening with lighting. I love that there are so many low-voltage options that allow integrators to work with lighting in new and innovative ways. We added an electrical division at TruMedia, and I am working to earn my journeyman electrical license. This industry is moving rapidly, so you must always be learning, and you will never be done.
I am constantly trying to learn new things, which makes me a good leader. I can always learn from someone else. I envy these 20-something individuals just starting because they are joining at such a cool time.
Connected Design: What advice do you give young business owners and consumer technology enthusiasts?
Find a mentor, ask the questions, and do not let anybody make you quit.