Please join us in congratulating the 2015 Women in AV Mentor Award Winner, Jill Rennington, President of IMS Technology Solutions!! WAVE had the chance to speak with Jill and she shared her expertise and insights on being a leader and women in a male-dominated industry, why mentoring is important to the future of the industry, and what steps we need to take to encourage women to join us.
IMS President Jill Rennington 2015 Women in AV Mentor Award Winner
Please tell us about your business, it’s history, how you’ve evolved, and what you do for the AV industry? What sets you apart from your competitors and why is that important to being a leading company in the AV industry? What are the trends you see in where our industry is evolving to with the convergence of AV and IT and how can we stay relevant and successful?
I started in this business with my husband, John, after his experiences traveling as a sales and marketing executive, and trying to conduct client presentations on the road with inadequate equipment. We saw an opportunity to fill a void in the market by renting high-quality projection technology to local hotels, meeting venues and traveling professionals. As that market started to change and the size and cost of projectors was reduced, we expanded into event staging services and shortly thereafter, some of our larger clients asked for help with systems integration projects so we brought that into the business too. Over the past several years, we have embraced this shift toward AV-IT convergence, and have further expanded our IT offerings, including adding video streaming, managed services, content creation, video collaboration, and digital signage.
The willingness and discipline to recognize and embrace market trends, and keep our company agile enough to quickly commit to change has been a critical competitive differentiator for us. Once we identify a growth area or an opportunity to expand our business, we fully commit to not only the opportunity, but to doing it better than anyone else in the industry.
To be a leading company in this industry, you have to be innovative, and continually add significant value to your clients. A key component to doing that is recruiting and keeping top talent. We provide end-to-end accountability to our clients, so the strength and commitment of our team is critical.
IMS Technology Solutions is driving the use of Augmented Reality and it’s latest offerings allow for video and 3-dimensional content to be displayed on mobile devices via any image trigger. It’s a great tool for visualizing 3d renderings and models from a printed schematic and IMS is looking at bringing to all of client’s meetings, events, and training experiences.
Watch IMS describe and demonstrate their latest Augmented Reality Application
Tell us about how you feel winning the award and what does mentoring mean to you, as a woman and also as a company owner? What qualities make someone a good mentor and how does a person get started to become one in their own lives? Why is mentoring important and how do you foster that environment in your professional and personal life?
I am honored and humbled to receive this award. We have grown IMS from renting projectors from our basement to managing events and system installations across the country and around the world… we’re not a huge company, only 80 people, but that’s still 80 people… and that’s really where I believe mentoring comes into play. Any company can rent gear, truck equipment across the country or install AV systems. We pride ourselves in building a team of highly skilled and creative people, and it’s their talent and dedication that makes the difference between a one-time customer and, and lasting and loyal customers. Our Team is the PRIMARY reason we’ve experienced the tremendous growth throughout our 20 year history.
Each year we create a theme to base our yearly initiates around. Last year’s theme was “Rising Above to Shape Your Future”. We asked each of our employees to first come up with ways in which they could “Rise Above” and how they could improve their performance or advance their skills. The second part was what that would mean to them personally either within IMS or totally outside of work. We received great insights into what was important to them…to their families and friends…things that their employment here at IMS was helping them build towards.
Part of being a mentor means recognizing what motivates your employees, respecting each one as an individual, and creating an environment where they can thrive and have the opportunity to reach their full potential, professionally as well as personally.
Being a mentor means investing in training and professional development for every position in the organization, including your own. It means keeping a close eye on your growth and expansion and recognizing the needs of the future before they arrive. It means taking the time to listen to your employees, showing them you care and giving them the individualized attention that they deserve.
See IMS’s President, Jill Renninger, 2015 WAVE Mentor Award
How do you see the AV industry in being welcoming and/or encouraging women? What, if anything, do we need to do to bring or open the possibilities for women to want to join us and make a career of AV? What would you like people to know about being a what it takes to be a women leader in our industry for women who want to follow in your footsteps?
We work in a tremendously fast-paced, ever-changing environment, with new technologies emerging every day, but there are still those old-fashioned principles that I believe everyone- not just women – in AV needs to live by: hard work, honesty, integrity and a never-ending commitment to listening to your customers.
What does it feel like being a woman in a male-dominated industry? Have you experienced barriers in your career and where do you feel we are at now as an industry? What did you want to be growing up as a young girl and what interested you about it that stood out? Did any of those dreams play into your career and where you are today?
As a women in a male-dominated industry, I can honestly say that the AV business is no different from any other industry. I believe that creativity, hard work, honesty and perseverance are the keys to being successful in business. I just think women have to be better than their counterparts and must prove themselves over a period of time whereas men are accepted much quicker. Unfortunately it is the world we live in but in the scheme of things it really just makes women that much better as they rise to the top of their profession. I have two daughters, both of which are in the business and I couldn’t be prouder of the job they are doing and the profession they have chosen.
Growing up, I watched my parents work side by side and create a thriving business. I knew early on that I was meant to be an entrepreneur based on the role models of my parents.
How do you see the AV industry in being welcoming and/or encouraging women? What, if anything, do we need to do to bring or open the possibilities for women to want to join us and make a career of AV?
I think that organizations like WAVE are exactly what this industry needs to help women see the industry as a viable career. At IMS we are encouraging diversity in the workplace by implementing an internship program with some of the local universities. This gives us the ability to find excellent talent and introduce the industry to more women.
Thinking back ,what is something that “if I had known then, what I would do now” scenarios can you see for yourself that could help shape a young woman’s path in a meaningful way?
Simply believe in yourself and know that you are as good as anybody in the workplace.