Third generation IT consultant Caitlin Brudnicki adds AV to her report card.
Caitlin Brudnicki took an unlikely path into the world of AV and IT. Fresh out of Ohio’s Miami University with a degree in Early Childhood Education and Teaching, she set aside her intended career and instead accepted a job offer from her mom to join the family IT consulting business.
As a good portion of BCL IT Consulting’s work is in the educational sector, Brudnicki’s teaching degree has turned out to be a real asset.
“I’m able to communicate with teachers in a way they understand and in ways that someone who might only have industry experience may not be able to,” says Brudnicki, the company’s senior project manager since 2017. “I can quickly figure out the needs of, say, a second grade classroom from those of a high school, where teachers and students collaborate on a much wider variety of devices.”
The West Chester, Ohio-based consulting firm, established by her late grandfather, Bob Lucidi, in 1993 and now owned by her mom Christy Miller, provides IT and AV solutions to a wide range of industries, including healthcare, government, commercial, recreation, sports, and education.
“We work with architects, developers, construction firms, and contractors, helping organizations build, expand, renovate, and make informed technology decisions that save money and streamline project delivery,” she explains. At any given time, they’re usually working on as many as 50 projects, ranging from soccer stadiums and conference centers to many local area schools. “People are often surprised when they learn that we’re only a three-person design team. They are floored at our capacity and what we’re able to turn out.”
Brudnicki is proud of the fact that the entire firm — just four full-time employees — is female, and she is convinced that gives them a competitive advantage.
“By nature, we are conversationalists and pleasers; we want our clients to have the best at all times and we’re not afraid to ask questions and really dig deep into their needs so we can provide them with the very highest quality solutions. We never want to take a cookie-cutter approach,” she says.
Over the last couple of years, the convergence of AV and IT has broadened the company’s offerings into large-scale displays, information visualization systems, integrated operating room systems, sound and presentation systems, and visual monitoring systems, among other things. It has also exposed them to the wider AV community, a development that has created an expanded role for Brudnicki as the resident AV specialist.
“With everything becoming so integrated, it became a necessity,” she says. “My mom has the credentials through BICSI and the network infrastructure certification, so I began working on getting AV certifications, including working toward achieving my CTS®.”
Since attending their first InfoComm® show in 2017, Brudnicki and Miller have been truly inspired by the range of female talent in the AV industry. Together they established the Ohio local group of the AVIXA Women’s Council as a forum for exchange of ideas, networking, and mentorship among AV members — both male and female — as well as students in the Cincinnati area. Recent events include networking happy hours and “mini-exhibitions” where vendors can show their products and talk about opportunities in their companies, and women already working in the industry can share their experiences in a safe and welcoming setting.
“We are really trying to get people to network and we particularly encourage students to take part, so they can meet people and get connected to where they want to be,” she says. “We also visit schools to talk with students and invite them to intern with our company to see what we do. I feel that it’s important to let young people know this is a great industry to work in and that you can do so without needing a college degree. It’s an industry that needs young people, especially women.”
Opening doors to young people and being in a position to blaze a trail for women in the industry is a driving force for Brudnicki, and clearly it’s in her blood.
“I’m lucky, I sit across from my mentor every day. My mom works really hard and has always been someone who encourages others and roots for the underdog,” she says. “I’ve been in several situations where I’ve had to work extra hard to get equal treatment for being a woman. My hope is that the industry as a whole garners a more open mind about women being equally able to do the same work as men, and that goes for passing on skills to the next generation. When I hear from clients that I’m a strong worker and I turn out good products, I know that makes my mom proud and would have made my grandfather proud. He was a very progressive guy, always extremely proud of the work my mom did. He would be beaming today to see what we have achieved.”