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Here’s How to Strike the Balance of Professional Drive and Personal Authenticity | Fairygodboss
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The Balance
Here’s How to Strike the Balance of Professional Drive and Personal Authenticity
Photo courtesy of Gina Collecchia
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Given that her company, Jaunt VR, is a global pioneer of immersive virtual, augmented, and mixed reality content, it’s ironic (in the Alanis Morissette sense of the word) that Senior Software Engineer Gina Collecchia strikes one as being so, well, real.

Describing her level of seriousness as “personally, not much; professionally, a lot,” Collecchia says she loves that her (Emmy Award-winning) team strikes an ideal balance of drive and authenticity.

Jaunt VR is hiring. Browse opportunities.

 “I bring positive energy to the office every day… I don’t feel like everything at work has to be serious,” she said. “I want the environment to feel humble interpersonally, yet proud of our accomplishments.”

And there’s no shortage of accomplishments to be proud of. Collecchia says Jaunt VR is doing some “mind-blowingly” progressive things in the fields of augmented reality and, her speciality, audio software development — and she shared with Fairygodboss some of what that looks like below! 

Name:

Gina Collecchia

Title & Company:

Senior Software Engineer, Audio/DSP

Gina Collecchia

How long have you been in your current role, and what were you doing previously? 

I’ve been at Jaunt since late 2016, when I left a research engineering role at SoundHound studying acoustic models for speech recognition.

What’s the first thing you do at work every day?

I run scrum meetings for my team at the beginning of each day, where we share what we’ve been focusing on. It’s a great way to open up opportunities to collaborate, and align our priorities.

What’s the most unique or interesting aspect of your job or company?

Getting to work on audio algorithms is an incredibly interesting part of what I do. As the sole developer with an audio focus, I get to use my expertise on digital signal processing, auditory perception, and mathematics on a daily basis. As for the company, Jaunt is doing some really mind-blowing things in the area of augmented reality and volumetric capture—stay tuned!

What’s something you think most people (perhaps even current employees) don’t know about your company that you think they should?

We have a production studio in Santa Monica that consistently delivers awesome content. We even won an Emmy this past fall, for Collisions!

What’s something you’re especially good at at work?

I bring positive energy to the office every day. I make an effort to engage people I might not “need” to talk to. I don’t feel like everything at work has to be serious, and I want the environment to feel humble interpersonally, yet proud of our accomplishments.

What about outside of work? 

I take photographs and enjoy hikes in the maximally naturally beautiful place that is California.

What are you trying to improve on? 

Mornings. I’m always rushing out the door!

What’s your favorite mistake?

—no answer. Just have Sheryl Crow stuck in my head now.

What’s the one career move you’ve made that you’re most proud of? 

Making the leap to move to the Bay Area was a great life experience. I did it before I received any word on whether or not I had gotten into Stanford, and fortunately that worked out!

What do you love most about your job or your company? 

I am research oriented, so it’s great to see opportunities to do some of that. In graduate school at Stanford’s CCRMA, I focused on room acoustics and artificial models of reverberation. It’s cool to learn more about human perception, as the way that our ears and brains localize sound is critical to the realism of a VR experience.

What are you currently reading/watching/listening to?

Watching: “Sex and the City.” I totally disregarded this show back in the day, but there are some solid insights on anthropology and gender roles in there. Reading: “1984” by George Orwell. What a time to be alive. Listening: John Talabot’s “Fin” from 2012 is great house music. I’m always listening to Elvis Costello and George Harrison, otherwise.

What’s your #1 piece of advice for women who are looking for jobs right now?

Networking is critical. Identify role models within your own friend group, or go out there and meet some! Get your LinkedIn together and a personal website while you’re at it — mine conveys exactly my level of seriousness (personally, not much; professionally, a lot). 

Who is/was the most influential person in your life and why?

My friend Evan Brooks, who co-founded Digidesign (now Avid). He has a lot of wisdom about framing and tackling problems, and is remarkably humble about his achievements. He really appreciates the labors of others around him, encourages curiosity and failure, and calls out bad behavior.

What’s the most memorable piece of career advice you’ve received?

Your parents will never (fully) understand (or maybe even accept) what you do. Don’t expect them to be your main source of career advice: seek out role models in your professional network.

What was the best quality of the best boss you’ve ever had?

Candor. I appreciate when I feel like I can give and receive honest feedback, both as an individual and a member of a team.

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