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Meet the…VP of strategic operations

SDVI's Hilary Roschke explains why there is "a romance" in what the media tech industry does, and how she's is in awe at the pace of technological change the industry is currently experiencing

Hilary Roschke, VP of strategic operations at SDVI Corporation
Talk us through an average day in your role

My favourite thing about my role as VP of strategic operations at SDVI is that every day is different! I am able to apply my skills and experience to make an impact in a wide variety of ways. In the past year, I focused on scaling areas of our business that impact customer and employee success, which is incredibly gratifying. 

I also get to put on my “former customer” hat from time to time, advising or speaking about my experience with the cloud transformation journey. Never a dull moment!

How did you get started in the media industry?

I’ve wanted to be in the media industry for as long as I can remember. I started out wanting to be on the creative side because I was only aware of those roles. After university, I was lucky enough to land a job with a global media company, and I was introduced to a wider variety of roles than I had thought possible! I worked my way through a variety of increasingly operational roles, eventually transitioning to global technology strategy, where I worked on a major cloud-transformation project. This is where I was introduced to software development as part of the media tech-stack, agile development, and cloud architectures. 

This role also opened my eyes to the wide world of cutting-edge, cloud-native vendors helping to redefine our industry. Seeing an opportunity to contribute to the evolution of the media industry, I took the leap to the vendor side and joined SDVI just over a year ago. It has been an incredible learning experience! I am in awe of the pace of technological change we are currently experiencing — and humbled by the impact these new technologies can have on existing and new businesses. I cannot wait to see what the future holds for all of us in media and entertainment.

What training did you have before entering the industry?

From the time I was about 14, I sought out every opportunity I could to be involved in media and/or entertainment, including running the light board for a high-school theatre production, interning for a filmmaker, working on a public access television show, and interning for the office of public information at the Pan American Health Organization.

Looking back, I didn’t have any business actually doing many of those things, but I was confident in my technical aptitude — and crazy or brave enough to take on the responsibility. I formalised my training at university with a degree in electronic media and film. Throughout all those early training opportunities and career experiences, however, I realised I was most interested in driving operational efficiency, coming up with ways to improve systems and processes to make them more efficient, or to make the output faster or better.

It is important for early careerists to know that there is a wide world of opportunity in the M&E industry. That’s why I work with Rise to amplify this message. You don’t need to be an auteur to join the industry. You can make an impact as a software developer, sound engineer, project manager, accountant, process nerd, business analyst, product specialist, marketing guru, and so on. The list is endless!

Why do you enjoy working in the industry?

There is a romance in what we do. People turn to their screens to learn, to dream, to stay connected, or to escape completely. Through our screens, we indulge our passion for sport, swim with the sharks, entertain our children, walk back in time, visit space, flit between metaverses, and enjoy voyeuristic glimpses into unscripted worlds that are otherwise beyond our reach. Operating at the nexus of cutting-edge technology, brilliant minds, and art — it’s the dream!

What piece of advice would you offer someone looking to explore a role similar to yours?

I start with curiosity and with a desire to provide the most value. No matter what you want to do or where you want to go in this industry, being really good at the thing you are currently in charge of is critical.

My second piece of advice is to remember that networking is not a waste of time. Our industry is evolving at a fast rate. Invest time to learn what your peers are doing and why, what works and what doesn’t, then adapt and apply that knowledge in your area.

Finally, for people thinking about entering this space, know that you don’t need to have a background in M&E to break into or be successful in this industry. As our industry moves to the cloud and embraces methodologies that grew up in industries such as manufacturing, software development, and big data, we need people from all kinds of backgrounds to help us shape this new world.