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CI Exclusive Q&A: WAVIT Strives for Equality and Opportunities

Published: January 17, 2023

Women in AV/IT (WAVIT) officially launched today. Founded by and for women, the group’s primary purpose is to strive for gender equality in the AV/IT industries. Moreover, it seeks to recruit and retain more women in the industry.

Recently, Commercial Integrator chatted with Susan Wilhite, one of WAVIT’s founders and commercial business development manager at Snap One. She offered us an exclusive look at the new organization and its exciting plans.

COMMERCIAL INTEGRATOR: Tell me about the genesis of Women in AV/IT.

Susan Wilhite headshot.SUSAN WILHITE: I’ve noticed that women in the industry tend to find each other — and I’m lucky to have a great group of female leaders that I frequently collaborate with. As we were talking about our future goals, that group of women saw an opportunity to create a forum where we can enrich, educate, and empower other women. The glue that holds us together is that we are all passionate about elevating women and advocating for them in the greater tech industry. Thus, WAVIT was formed.

Roles and Responsibilities Within WAVIT

CI: You have assembled quite the group of powerful women in this industry. How did you decide which roles each of you would take on in the organization?

WILHITE: We’ve all known each other for a while and recognize that each individual on the board is very different. Because we come from different backgrounds and roles, everyone has a unique skill set. I’m a fan of Jim Collins’ Good to Great and this quote of his fits our situation perfectly: “Those who build great organizations make sure they have the right people on the bus and the right people in the key seats before they figure out where to drive the bus.” We used this methodology to put people into the roles where they will be the most successful and we can use their strengths to build a powerful organization.

CI: What is the group’s mission and why are you personally passionate about it?

WILHITE: Our number one mission is to create a network that supports and empowers women. Personally, I love people in the commercial AV/IT industries. Connecting with my peers has always been exciting for me — that’s probably why I’m in sales — and I can’t wait to continue to do that through WAVIT. I was blessed to have amazing female mentors like Cory Schaeffer and Brandy Alvarado-Mirando, and I’m ready to pay it forward. Within the new organization, I will be championing partnerships and working with various groups to ensure we are recruiting women into the STEM fields at all levels— from grade school to college/trade school and beyond!

How WAVIT is Different

CI: How does WAVIT differ from the other women’s groups that exist in commercial AV?

WILHITE: We are looking to establish partnerships with other women’s groups to complement each other — as my friend Megan Dutta says, “A rising tide lifts all boats.” We are looking to share best practices as we recognize different groups may be able to better handle different initiatives and share resources while providing a platform for personal and professional growth. It’s critical that we all work together to put resources in place to help women navigate the B.S. challenges and situations that they are faced with today.

CI: How can people join Women in AV/IT? Is the organization open to men and non-binary people?

WILHITE: All are welcome at WAVIT—we encourage all female-identifying individuals, as well as men and non-binary people, to join us in our mission to make the industry a better place for women. To get more information on membership, you can also check out our WAVIT website.

CI: Finally, is there anything else you’d like to add?

WILHITE: One of my main objectives at WAVIT is to launch — and later grow — our strategic-partnership program. Whether you’re looking to collaborate, searching for resources or even want to sponsor WAVIT, please reach out to me so we can discuss our synergies. I am available at Susan.Wilhite@snapone.com.

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