Gina Callari of EVOX Images: “Support Other Women in Tech”

Support Other Women in Tech: Be supportive of competent women in your field. We all worked hard to get here. Male-dominated industries, such as tech, can create environments for unhealthy competition amongst women. Avoid that temptation and think of how you can coach and elevate others. The Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality & Mixed Reality Industries are […]

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Support Other Women in Tech: Be supportive of competent women in your field. We all worked hard to get here. Male-dominated industries, such as tech, can create environments for unhealthy competition amongst women. Avoid that temptation and think of how you can coach and elevate others.

The Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality & Mixed Reality Industries are so exciting. What is coming around the corner? How will these improve our lives? What are the concerns we should keep an eye out for? Aside from entertainment, how can VR or AR help work or other parts of life? To address this, as a part of our interview series called “Women Leading The VR, AR & Mixed Reality Industries”, we had the pleasure of interviewing Gina Callari.

Gina Callari joined EVOX Images® in 2014, and prior to becoming COO in 2018, held numerous positions at the company, including Director of Operations and Vice President of Operations.

In her role as COO, Callari has led the efforts to create a mass, CG library of augmented and virtual reality automotive imagery. Additionally, Callari has signed key business partners for EVOX that include the likes of Amazon, Facebook, and Google. She also serves as the COO of EVOX’s sister-company, RelayCars,

Notable clients under Callari’s lead at EVOX include CDK Global,, Kelley Blue Book, Kia, Subaru, and TrueCar.

Callari has over 25 years of experience in the automotive industry and, throughout her roles, has been recognized for her innovation, strategic planning, and ability to create visions that help evolve organizations within the changing market.

An industry veteran, Callari spent more than 10 years with the Los Angeles Auto Show. She spearheaded the show’s support team and logistics and managed cross-functional teams. Before joining the Los Angeles Auto Show, Callari held leadership roles with the Houston Auto Show, Petersen Publishing, and

Callari currently serves on the board of the Women in Automotive organization. She is also a member of the National Association of Professional Women, SEMA Businesswomen’s Network, Automotive Women’s Alliance Foundation, and Sandpipers, a 100% women-volunteer philanthropic organization where she held both chair and board positions in the past. She graduated from Pepperdine University with a bachelor’s degree in business management.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you tell us a bit about your backstory and how you grew up?

Thank you for having me! To start, I grew up in California and am the daughter of an immigrant. I have two younger sisters and when one of them was diagnosed with a form of leukemia, my family’s world turned upside down. Thankfully, my youngest sister was a donor match, which ultimately led to my other sister overcoming her illness. I truly believe that this experience shaped who I am today. I was pushed at a very early age to grow up quite quickly and to learn to be more independent due to the pressures at home and my parents’ focus on caring for my sister. I began working at 15 and learned the importance of having a good work ethic. I have worked very hard ever since, even while attending college and being the first member of my family to graduate. My childhood made me the woman I am today.

Is there a particular book, film, or podcast that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

An insightful book that I read recently is Why We Can’t Sleep: Women’s New Midlife Crisis by Ada Calhoun. This book focuses on Generation X women and their struggles, that oftentimes can lead to a midlife crisis, including divorce, debt, unstable housing, and career development. As a woman, this book really resonated with me as sometimes I can feel like the world is on my shoulders between being a mom and a working professional. This book made me realize I am not alone in feeling this way and put into perspective why women feel that they sometimes struggle with balance. It’s great insight into the ‘why’ behind the societal pressures that women face.

Is there a particular story that inspired you to pursue a career in the Mixed Reality industry? We’d love to hear it.

I have a very strong automotive background, with over 20 years of experience in the industry. Prior to working at EVOX Images and RelayCars, I held leadership roles within organizations such as the LA Auto Show, Houston Auto Show, Petersen Publishing, and Once I joined EVOX, what truly inspired us to get into the mixed reality industry was the need to make a pivotal shift with our work and gain a competitive edge over others in our space. EVOX leads the automotive imagery market with thousands of stock images, and we constantly pride ourselves on being the most innovative image provider in our space. With this, it wasn’t unheard of us to begin thinking how the automotive market could benefit from VR/AR back in 2014. We started to think differently about what we were producing and how we could change our techniques to capture everything stereoscopically. So, with the changes in those processes, we began to build a virtual reality automotive library as a new way to engage customers. Because my background was in auto and not in XR, I threw myself into the space and attended as many conferences and webinars I could register for, I met with developers, and conducted a ton of research — all to gain some background. We have since grown from just VR and have now taken our photo image library and created a full CGI library of cars to now be able to offer the experiences in AR. I really am inspired by the innovation and forward-thinking in this space, and it’s made working in mixed reality so exciting.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began this fascinating career?

Interestingly enough, the COVID-19 pandemic truly accelerated our company’s use of augmented reality. For years, AR has had slower adoption with consumers and wasn’t necessarily becoming mainstream quickly. Once COVID hit, and businesses were forced to close, soon people realized they needed to change the way they were marketing goods and services. Without in-person experiences, there was a shift in the way we all were doing things, especially in terms of retail. Everyone started to think a bit differently, and business and consumers finally began to understand the true benefits of augmented reality. It was rewarding to finally see the lightbulbs go on.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

When I first started working with mixed reality, I had no idea how to use the hardware. My first time using a headset, I had no idea where the buttons were and kept tripping over myself. People had to jump in to show me the ropes. Now, I’m able to help others who have never used a headset before and show them just how cool and exciting it is. This technology is still so new to many individuals and it’s so rewarding to see how they react when they experience it for the first time. I love being able to see how much joy the headset can bring.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Having been in the industry for so long, I’ve had many mentors that contributed to the person I am today. David Falstrup, the founder and CEO of EVOX Images, is the individual who introduced me to mixed reality. David has taught me to be more open minded when it comes to production, and just because something works well, doesn’t mean we can’t think of new and exciting ways to branch out. EVOX has now survived three separate recessions because David has continued to put more money behind research and development during these times. He has truly taught me how to think differently to be successful.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

We are constantly working on new and exciting projects at EVOX; however, many are under NDA at this time. We are always creating new products and experiences that will enhance the car buying process and allow for consumers to shop from the comfort of their homes. Years ago, consumers would visit 5 or 6 physical dealer locations before deciding on a car. With our new technologies in place, including AR, customers can narrow down options online and ultimately not have to step foot on a dealer lot to make a purchase.

Ok super. Thank you for all that. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. The VR, AR and MR industries seem so exciting right now. What are the 3 things in particular that most excite you about the industry? Can you explain or give an example?

The three things that excite me most right now about the VR, AR, and MR industries are adoption, adoption, adoption! The most exciting thing to watch right now is seeing how people are finally taking to this technology. I can’t be successful at my job unless people are using AR and VR. We have been waiting a long time for these technologies to become more widely recognized and now businesses and consumers alike are finally understanding. As previously mentioned, COVID has finally helped to accelerate this mainstream adoption and consumers are no longer just associating this technology with gaming. Now, you can use the Target app to view a rug in your home, or try on glasses through Warby Parker’s app in AR. Amazon is even launching a hair salon in London that will utilize this technology and allow customers to test out different hair colors in AR before committing to a shade. Watching this take off in almost every single industry now is incredible.

What are the 3 things that concern you about the VR, AR and MR industries? Can you explain? What can be done to address those concerns?

One of my main concerns are the perceived barriers to entry with VR headsets. Headsets are currently pretty cumbersome, specialized, and pricey which makes adoption an issue. Additionally, and especially since the pandemic, people do not want to share headsets to have experiences in public places like malls, stores, amusement parks, and more. For this to be addressed, headsets need to become more dominant in households outside of the gaming industry. To achieve this, developers must create VR experiences that people truly need, otherwise headsets will not survive. Additionally, education is key, as well as the rollout of a consumer-accepted headset. This is one of the reasons that AR is taking off a bit more quickly, as it can be accessed through a Smartphone rather than a headset.

Another concern is the speed of web AR implementation. The rollout of these AR experiences on the web need to perform faster. Web AR has severe limitations compared to straightforward Realtime engines that make experiences more difficult to deliver. Latency on tracking can pull users out of the experience and the realities get out of sync. There will need to be an advancement in the quality of assets that are formatted for the web to ensure these limitations get lifted.

From a business standpoint, my final concern is the protection of IP for content AR providers. We need to find ways to keep CG models secure so they are not stolen. Protection of IP is mostly a concern with web AR as it is much more difficult to extract content out of a compiled application.

I think the entertainment aspects of VR, AR and MR are apparent. Can you share with our readers how these industries can help us at work?

Utilizing VR, AR, and MR at work is all about the experience. A great example is with remote working becoming the new normal over the past year. Virtual conference rooms with avatars and boards for presentation purposes can make you feel as though you’re actually in an in-person meeting. These experiences can help to make working from home feel more realistic.

Are there other ways that VR, AR and MR can improve our lives? Can you explain?

Absolutely. Conversations about AR and VR now are already so different than they were a year and a half ago. COVID really transformed the way that we do things and people are shopping so differently now. Enhancing the buying experience with AR and VR capabilities really adds a new layer of convenience to shopping and can help to save time in the long run.

Let’s zoom out a bit and talk in broader terms. Are you currently satisfied with the status quo regarding women in STEM? If not, what specific changes do you think are needed to change the status quo?

We really need to do a better job about educating females in high school and college about what job opportunities in STEM are out there. There is just no exposure or good information about what jobs exist. The more women know about these career paths, the more they will push math and science courses to the top of their lists. We need to start this at a younger level to really drum up interest. I have a very hard time recruiting women to work for me because women are simply not applying to these jobs. I’ve felt it’s my responsibility to get out to job fairs at high schools and colleges to inform these women what is out there. Bringing women into these jobs increases diversity in the industry and brings new ideas and fresh perspectives to the table. Especially in the auto industry, it’s key to have women in executive roles as women drive the force for purchasing decisions. Women are so capable for these positions and I hope to keep spreading the word.

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about working in your industry? Can you explain what you mean?

One misconception I’ve encountered working in automotive is that women don’t have knowledge about cars. People assume you need to know all of the mechanics behind a vehicle to work in the industry or that a woman could never know this. The automotive industry is very male-focused, but you don’t need to know all of the technical aspects to successfully market a car through mixed reality. One of the most powerful people in the automotive industry is Mary Barra, the CEO of General Motors. She took the industry in an entirely new direction and it was incredible to see. At the end of the day, women know how to market to other women.

What are your “5 Leadership Lessons I Learned from My Experience as a Woman in Tech” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

Support Other Women in Tech: Be supportive of competent women in your field. We all worked hard to get here. Male-dominated industries, such as tech, can create environments for unhealthy competition amongst women. Avoid that temptation and think of how you can coach and elevate others.

Keep Learning: Over the past 20 years, nearly every industry has come to rely on technology in some way. We all hear about the accelerating pace of change — this now affects almost every sector. Consistently dedicate time to continue your education. Being knowledgeable will give you the power to proactively direct your career into new growth areas instead of just following opportunities as they present.

Network: Attend industry trade shows, stay current with industry happenings, maintain a healthy network. The people you meet in these early roles can be colleagues for life. They will work for you and hire you. Nurture those relationships. Be kind to people at all levels; it’s both pragmatically good for your career and also nourishes you as a human being. Find a female mentor who can help walk you through the ins and outs of the industry.

Negotiate your Pay: All too often women take the first offer for a job or position. Educate yourself on the market value for the position. Then, build up an argument and negotiate. It’s uncomfortable to ask, but it’s worse to wonder.

Personal Space: Maintain a healthy work-life balance. Keep friends outside of your job and your industry. Keep savings to live at least six months on hand. Occasionally, you will be challenged to compromise yourself ethnically or violate personal standards. The ability to provide for yourself without a job protects you from undue leverage and pressure to compromise.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

As a mother, the idea of fair education is so important to me. Inequality in schools is such a real problem. In fact, my son is currently collecting book donations at his school to give to another school in the area that does not have as many resources. So many kids don’t even have a laptop, let alone Wi-Fi, which is a hurdle that truly showed the disparity during remote learning. I’d love to help give all kids fair access to education and the tools they need to be successful.

We are very blessed that very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why?

I would love to have breakfast or lunch with Michelle Obama. She is the best! She is well rounded, classy, and intelligent. I truly love what she has accomplished professionally, but also that she exudes compassion and is a strong mother. I’d love to pick her brain for insight or simply hear her incredible stories.

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