Jennifer LaBollita, director of sales and marketing, InnerSpace Electronics was recently awarded the Woman to Watch award from Women in Consumer Technology (WiCT).
Below, LaBollita discusses her work in the consumer tech industry, her plans for CES 2019, and how others have inspired her.
RESI: How did you get your start in the CT industry?
JENNIFER LABOLLITA: My first role in the industry was as an executive assistant to the CEO at Autonomic Controls, a manufacturer of high-end, professionally installed whole-home audio systems. Working as the right-hand to the CEO of a fledgling startup, my responsibilities touched all facets of the organization and were comprised of developing and implementing company-wide policies and processes.
As a passionate and dedicated professional, I continued to grow my knowledge and gain a strong understanding of the custom channel at the vendor level in areas of manufacturing, business operations, sales, finance, profit and loss management, budget planning, and human resources. In conjunction, it was only natural for me to gravitate and focus on claiming my role as marketing manager by leveraging my education in marketing and experience in sales and customer service.
Although this was my professional debut in the industry, I believe my official start in the industry was when I was a young girl helping my father set-up our television systems and audio gear. I enjoyed figuring out the right wiring schematics and watching it come to life through its connections. My AM/FM radio, cassette, and CD player with detachable speakers was one of my favorite gadgets—allowing me to develop an initial understanding of sound dispersion by testing out areas for best placement of the speakers. My appreciation for electronics continued to mature especially growing up alongside the fast-paced world of changing technology.
RESI: What is your goal at CES 2019?
JL: CES is always such an impressive show full of so many fresh ideas, trends, and new products. Aside from the show floor there is so much opportunity to meet with business partners and network. The workshops are always informative and educational. My goal at CES 2019 is to identify and expand my knowledge on any new technologies focused around AI, voice control, and human-centric lighting.
RESI: What do you believe will dominate the tech conversation in 2019?
JL: AI and voice control continue to progress, and I believe it’s still in its infancy. I expect to see explosive growth in the coming year. On the topic of entertainment, virtual reality will also be a dominating force as this technology continues to gain interest and popularity. Additionally, technologies that help monitor environments to increase overall well-being is a hot topic that has a lot of room for growth and refinement.
RESI: What can the CT industry do to attract and retain the next generation of technology professionals?
JL: STEM education is becoming a predominant focus in our school systems. This industry contains many brilliant professionals and engineers, so as long as we continue to be valued as leaders and innovators through the introduction of solutions to consumers that enhance life across all areas; entertainment, health and well-being, transportation, etc., then I believe it will be a driving force for the next generation with a solid background education in STEM subjects to enter the space.
RESI: Where do you see your career heading from here?
JL: When I first started in the industry, I was told on numerous occasions that you don’t pick this industry, the industry picks you. Being a part of a fast-paced, creative, solution-focused industry is where I want to be. Shifting gears from the manufacturing side to the service side is connecting all the dots, bridging the gap, and giving me a full circle understanding of how it all works together. Having the opportunity to provide life-altering technologies that improve overall well-being is something special—the possibilities are truly endless. This industry gives me the opportunity to impact and create change, and that’s where I intend to continue to define my career as tech continuously provides that.
RESI: Do you have a mentor in the industry? If so, please tell us a little about him/her and how he/she has inspired you?
JL: Throughout my tenure in the industry I’ve developed many significant relationships with industry veterans who continue to mentor and enhance my professional development. That is what I appreciate the most about this industry—the willingness to share knowledge, further educate, and deliver results through support of each other.