Kat is co-founder & Head of VR/AR (Virtual/Augmented Reality) at Wrestler. She's passionate about storytelling with new technology to "make people feel awesome in the real world!"
What do you do on an average work day?
I look after the VR (virtual reality) and AR (augmented reality) projects we have at Wrestler. I manage the creative process and ensure the right technology is being applied to the project and work with the team to make sure that the project is delivered on time.
A big part of what I do is making sure I understand all of the different technologies and ideas around how to produce the best experience for our clients.
I am always researching and developing new ways of using VR for storytelling that use the full awesomeness that VR has to offer. From capture technology - like 8i or mocap, animation, CG, Photogrammetry and 360 video - through to the platform that we use such as an iPhone or HTC Vive, online or through an activation - a physical event such as the Singapore Airlines Trishaw activation we did at Wellington Airport [see photo below].
I work with a lot of tech industry specialists to understand what is coming so that we are always at the forefront of the industry. So my day is taken up with learning about technology and then applying creatively, making it and then launching it to the public to try!
I am also working on a bunch of other stuff, including my own game around movement and empowerment, where you can dance with goddesses to empower your inner femininity, and a VR storytelling project to help Māori (and other Indigenous) cultures to tell stories in VR and AR.
What did you study at school? And after high school?
When I started high school my dream was to be an architect and my two inspirations were Salvador Dali and Antoni Gaudi. Through school I focused on the arts, graphics, physics and more art! I was also a very social person so I spent a lot of my time hanging out with friends and playing sport.
After high school it was a bit weird: for some reason I hadn’t even thought about university or what I was going to do after school finished. So that summer was a little stressful. I got into Fine Arts at Massey but decided to go for Interior Architecture instead at Victoria University of Wellington.
The first semester of this course was not for me so I ended up leaving uni and working full time at Morrison & Co. It was a small company that taught me great leadership skills, small business environments and the ways to manage a flat structure of staff.
After I got my groove there, I ended up doing a year of interest papers ranging from economics to Spanish! Finally ending up at Waikato University where I majored in PR & Marketing. Finding the right university and fit is really important.
Was your study directly related to what you do now?
I did a Bachelor of Communications Studies at Uni majoring in PR and marketing, so what I studied does not directly relate to what I do now, but it is part of it.
I run a video agency so the marketing and PR knowledge helps to tell our clients stories and also helps me to tell mine. The VR and AR tech stuff was all learnt when I got hired by software company 8i. My degree did get me the job as my main job there was marketing and communications but it soon turned into so much more!
What would you like to share with young women who are thinking about their career choices right now?
I would say don’t worry about having to pick one thing that you're passionate about and then pursuing that forever.
If you do have something, that's great and you’re very lucky. But I didn’t really find my passion and place until this year when I really felt like VR and AR storytelling and new technology was the place for me. And it might not always be that way.
You should always allow yourself to be interested in new things and if your gut tells you to follow that opportunity then definitely take it.
We are moving into a world where creativity and authenticity is the most important human trait so make sure you love who you are as a person and love what your contributing to society and then you’ll always find a place, industry, company etc that you enjoy. People like working with people who are passionate about what they do no matter what it might be.
What are some of your career highlights so far?
I especially loved working at 8i and helping to develop software that turns humans into holograms.
Co-owning a business with my husband is something I'm proud of - which is also super fun! We really enjoy working together and playing together so it’s a great fit. I really appreciate my team at Wrestler, who are all beautiful human beings. We all get along and respect each other, have fun and are all very talented at what we do.
I've also been granted Film Commission funding! It is for two VR projects that will help evolve the VR industry and also human emotional connections.
Why do you believe engaging in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) is important to New Zealand?
It’s really interesting! I have some of the best conversations when I am around people who work in the STEM sector, because its really about bettering humanity through research and development and then applying that to people's lives.
It is also quite future focused, which I love! And being able to be part of this sector to better people's lives is rad!
Why is it important to have more women working in STEM?
If we look at what’s being developed at the moment, like AI (Artificial Intelligence - robots that think like humans) for example, the majority of those working in that area are men. So its only natural that AI will grow to have more masculine emotions and traits as men naturally have a different idea of what is important.
So we need women and diverse ways of thinking to make sure that there is better representation for the future.
Kat is co-founder & Head of VR/AR (Virtual/Augmented Reality) at Wrestler. She's passionate about storytelling with new technology to make people feel awesome in the real world! You can follow Kat on Twitter or Instagram.
This profile is part of our series of girls and women in STEM.View all profiles