Petro Shimonishi, director of global marketing, URC, was recently awarded the Women in Consumer Technology (WiCT) Legacy Award.
Below, Shimonishi discusses her thoughts on data privacy and her passion for diversity in the industry.
RESI: How did you get your start in the CT industry?
PETRO SHIMONISHI: After five years working in Japan for an import/export company and subsequently returning to the U.S. to earn my MBA from Thunderbird Graduate School, I decided that I wanted to continue to leverage my skills in Japanese and international business, so I cold-called a lot of Japanese companies in Southern California looking for my next challenge.
I was very lucky to meet Scott Kawaguchi, vice president of brand management for Pioneer Electronics USA. We spent about an hour just talking about computers (which was my area of interest, as I’d been taking night courses at ITT Tech), and he decided to hire me to help Pioneer understand how the computing industry would affect their audio business.
I didn’t know much about audio/video (other than I loved music!) and I was very lucky that he, Matt Dever, Stokely Marco, Dave Bales, and many others at Pioneer taught me a lot about the side consumer audio/video business. It was also an exciting time for our industry with lots of new disruptive IT-based technologies—such as MP3, compression algorithms, processor speed and battery capacity was doubling on an annual basis—and the internet was just starting to revolutionize not only how consumer enjoyed content but also how they purchased new products. To this day, I am extremely thankful for the opportunity and the experience I gained at Pioneer.
RESI: What is your goal at CES 2020?
PS: I have three goals for CES 2020. First, I would like to connect with URC’s customers.
At URC, we have several different types of customers: international distributors that represent our brand overseas, custom integrators that install our products in residential and commercial facilities, and, of course, the end user (be it a homeowner or a commercial building manager). I am always looking for ways that we can improve on delivering value to our customers, so spending time with them is very important to me.
Second, I am going to connect with URC’s integration partners. URC is a global leader in smart automation and control, and it is imperative that we play well with other brands to deliver a seamless ecosystem for our custom integrators as well as an easy and enjoyable experience for our end users. Since I joined URC in July, we have been laser focused on adding to our portfolio of integration partners by creating two-way IP-Based modules for our Total Control smart automation system, and we plan to continue to deliver a robust roadmap of integration partnerships.
My final goal is to reconnect with my network. For the past two years, I’ve been on the professional AV side of the business; now that I’m back on the consumer side and working for URC, my goal for CES is to reconnect and expand my network at the show.
RESI: What do you believe will dominate the tech conversation in 2020?
PS: It’s been exciting to see how technology has evolved over the past 25 years—from convenience to quality, to networked and connected, and now intelligent devices. I believe that in the coming year, the tech conversation will be dominated by three topics: artificial intelligence, smart automation, and consumer privacy. These all provide tangible benefits to the consumer by making their lives easier, but a most consumers have concerns about the privacy of their data, and rightly so.
Today’s marketeers and technology leaders find themselves right in the middle of this conversation. This is one of the reasons I joined URC—I get to be part of a team that is passionate about data privacy with our products, systems, and services.
But it’s not always about the product, with the European Union enacting GDPR regulation last year and California’s new California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) going into effect Jan. 1, marketers have to be religiously protective and transparent about the type of consumer data we collect from all of our digital marketing activities. I expect this conversation over intelligence and privacy will continue to manifest this year and eventually we will see more states in the USA and countries adopt similar regulations.
RESI: How do you hope to inspire the next generation of women in tech?
PS: I remember the first meeting that Carol Campbell called when she started the Women in CT organization. It was 2000 and we thought a handful of women would show up, so we were pleasantly surprised to get 25 people. It has been amazing to see how the number of women in leadership roles at CE companies has grown.
Personally, I’ve shifted my focus from gender equality to diversity as I’m a strong believer that a diverse group of people with different experiences, knowledge, culture and background, and a common goal can make a company truly great. Through my mentoring activities, I’m hoping to inspire the next generation of women in tech to be focused and determined, yet inclusive and collaborative.
I also volunteer my time refurbishing computers for underprivileged children and teach them beginning computing courses, because I’d like to inspire people to have a passion for technology. In addition, I’m going to night school to expand my skills in software development. The pace of change is only going to speed up, so we all have to be agile thinkers.