WoW Woman in VR | Vina Aurellia, COO of Octagon Studio

Interview by Michelle Hua @MadeWithGlove

Vina Aurellia is the Chief Operations Officer at Octagon Studio. 

Octagon Studio is a multimedia company based in Indonesia that specialises in producing and delivering Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) solutions and products for mobile and wearable devices. Octagon Studio also integrates 360 photography, AR and VR into unique applications utilising the immersive quality of these mixed realities.

With a degree in Computer Graphics Design, Vina has technical skills such as 3DSMax, Unity 3D, Unreal Engine, HTML 5, Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Premier Pro and After Effects, Php & MYSQL to lead the team at Octagon Studio. 

She achieved the highest score in Maths in high school and physical education where she won the New Zealand Prime Minister's Athlete scholarship and spent time in New Zealand playing badminton for the New Zealand National squad.

What is your role at Octagon Studio?

Currently I am assigned as the company’s COO. With the support of our CEO, my responsibilities include ensuring all operational processes both internally and externally go smoothly. I also oversee day to day operations, make adjustments as necessary and just sleep when things get too stressful :p

How did you get into AR/VR?

Before involving in the field of AR/VR, my role was as a 3D designer producing 3D visualisation videos for feasibility study and construction purposes within the railway industry. On one of our brainstorming sessions, we discovered that by utilising AR technology we were actually able to make various visualisations simpler and more compelling. We then researched the technology further and AR/VR eventually became our focal point.      

There are quite a few women working at Octagon Studio. Do you feel this helps in job satisfaction?

The 3D Department (before it was transformed into Octagon Studio) was an all male department when I first joined. As the youngest and only girl in a male dominated environment, I was frequently “bullied” by these nice, funny and supportive nerds. Later on, the company saw an increase in female employees recruitment which definitely helped in terms of livening up the work atmosphere. This also enabled us to have girls’ nights out and girls only talks.

What have been your biggest career achievements?

While there have been some achievements, I definitely think that my best is yet to come. Growing up, I have always been blessed with a good and comfortable life which enabled me to pursue my passion with relative ease. However, I had also observed that a lot of people weren’t as fortunate; struggling to deal with difficulties and essentially giving up on their dreams and passion. This is the reason why I’ve worked and learned so hard, to hopefully in the future our products can inspire people to lead a better and more inspirational lives by helping finding and pursuing their passion.

As it stands now, whenever I see kids unable to attend school or get the most out of their education, or people not yet realising what their passion in life is, there’s not much I can do to help them. But I hope that someday, I will be able to say that inspiring others has been my biggest career achievements.

What challenges have you faced as a woman in this industry?

I actually think that being a woman in the tech industry provides more advantages than challenges. When we don’t understand something technical for instance, men have a higher tolerance to women; meaning they tend to be more patient, understanding and willing to impart knowledge and know-hows compared to other men.

I never worry of asking questions or worry to appear smart when I truly don’t know the answer to a question or the solution to a problem. As a woman, I truly think that I can simply ask for assistance precisely because I am a woman in a male dominated environment. While lots of times we may need a hundred ‘no's’ to get a single ‘yes,’ I do believe that one ‘yes’ will drive us to be more successful in the future as long as we have good intentions.

How do you overcome these challenges? 

We do have a great boss and a super supportive team which truly welcome and support us women whenever we encounter difficulties. I believe that both men and women provide different but equally valuable perspectives, which in turn help propel the company to reach higher levels of excellence.

Also, the Woman Techmakers community has also provided me with lots and lots of inspiration. It has been an eye opener and a source of knowledge for the ever-growing role of women within the field of global technology. As a woman, I naturally feel a sense of pride of how far we’ve come.

What projects are you currently working on? 

As my role is primarily to oversee the general flow of the company, I am not directly involved in any specific projects. Furthermore, since Octagon Studio employs capable project managers, my task is only to make sure that all projects go smoothly and provide sufficient support.

What do you see are the key trends in the AR/VR industry?

According to global analysis and predictions in AR/VR market, 2016 will pave the way for the AR/VR ‘explosion’ of 2020. In AR, I see the Ironman scene with holographic type of technology complete with wearable devices, motion sensors and controllers enjoying widespread use in 2020.

Regarding VR, its biggest selling point is obviously its ability to transport users to countless virtual worlds beyond the confines of reality. There will be a huge market for VR gaming, movies as well as theme parks industries.

Who are you inspirational women in AR/VR?

Sheryl Sandberg, she is currently the Chief Operating Officer of Facebook. After joining the company, she immediately tried to figure out how to make Facebook profitable. Before she joined, the company was primarily interested in building a really cool site and they assumed profits would follow. She was able to convince Facebook's board of directors to rely and focus on advertising, which resulted in Facebook becoming the most prominent social media advertising platform. In 2012, she became the first woman to serve on Facebook's board.

So no matter how unlikely things might seem to happen for us women, as a minority within the tech industry, we can always contribute in achieving the company’s vision as long as we continue to work hard, smart and never stop believing.

What advice can you give to women in AR/VR?

Never stop learning, improving and most importantly never allow anyone to put you down on the basis of your gender. Focus on things that truly matters, such as your product, team and things that propel your business forward.