Hilary Laney: President of Tri-Digital

My NativeAdVice:

How did you get into the Tech industry?

My dad, Mark Monrean, has been in the tech industry since the late eighties – specifically in digital media services. He founded Tri-Digital in 1993 with two other gentlemen and worked out of our basement. I suppose growing up with a tech company across the hall from me instilled a fascination with the industry. I did not actually come to this realization though until I was an adult and had the opportunity to work for his company after graduating college. Since joining in 2004, I have become very passionate about solving the challenges technology presents and seeing what is possible through experimentation with it.

Tell us about Tri-Digital. What inspired the idea and what is your vision for the company?

Tri-Digital is a mid-sized business that is growing quickly as our industry continues to expand. It is pretty incredible for me to think about my dad starting this business twenty years prior to the target market hitting its highest demand. In the beginning stages he worked closely with IBM and Microsoft to build a product called DigiClips©, which was a CD-ROM set containing hundreds of digital clips ranging from videos to sound bites. They released a second version the following year, both were a success, and provided them the finances required to take the company to the next level.

What strategic partnerships/marketing strategies have you implemented that have attributed to Tri-Digital's success?

I can confidently say the success of Tri-Digital is primarily attributed to the relationships we have established over the years. My dad has ingrained in me the importance of establishing authentic relationships in both my personal and business interactions. As a result, all of our clients have come to us through connections in the industry. It wasn’t until last year that we made the decision to focus a portion of our marketing and sales efforts outside of those relationships. We are currently working on establishing this marketing strategy and really look forward to seeing the results as we continue to grow our client base outside of the Puget Sound region.

What industry trends are you noticing and how do you capitalize on them?

We have seen a drastic increase in personal online video consumption since the launch of YouTube in 2005. It was at this time that we started encouraging our clients to make their corporate content available online versus distribution of DVDs to their attendees. Since then we have seen momentum build and has really locked in the expectation that corporate events make their content available online. It has become one of the necessities of an event experience, similar to having microphones in the room – attendees want access to the content. The highest demand for this definitely exists in the technical and medical industries, but I foresee it spreading across all industries in the next five years. I also think there will continue to be a growing need due to increasing costs of travel, environmental conservation requirements, and globalization of corporate companies across the world.

Life Motto?

I love what Richard Branson had to say once: “I don’t think of work as work and play as play. It’s all living.” This encompasses my own personal aspiration and that of what Tri-Digital is working to achieve for our clients. I foresee a future in business where people are not tied to the office for the better part of a day, sitting in long commutes between home and work; where the average working individual has full access to their professional requirements without having to abandon their personal aspirations, and children do not have to spend all day in a childcare facility because both parents are at work. I think society is getting there, but to achieve this we must continue to develop solutions that provide us this access without distracting us from the physical experience.

Tri-Digital's Motto?

Connecting businesses with people through digital media, leveraging the entrepreneurial initiative and innovation of our team members, while providing the highest level of customer service possible.

Your greatest success as CEO of Tri-Digital? Most difficult moment-how did you overcome and what did you learn?

My most difficult moment as President at Tri-Digital would have to be the decision to add a layer of management between the team and myself. At the time of this decision all signs were pointing to this being the right thing to do for the sake of the business. It was no longer possible for me to provide them with the support and guidance they needed to be successful while also driving the vision forward. Finding someone I could trust with my team members, and visibility into the business that nobody besides myself, my dad, and our Business Manager (Lila Williams) had ever been exposed to was extremely challenging. The risk was very high and we had limited resources, financial and human, to make it a success.

We brought in an Organizational Business consultant, Michael Godfrey, who was ultimately the person who helped us graduate from the small family business to the mid-size global player we are today. He worked with us on building a new hiring program, on-boarding process, and policies to help us attract the high-end candidates we were looking to hire. Ultimately we brought on our current Director of Operations, Robert Burton, and although there were definite bumps in the road for the first year, we have achieved a trust I never thought possible with someone from outside the friends and family circle we originally started with. Since joining the team 3 years ago he has more than doubled the team, managed the development and release of multiple new services, mentored some of my most valued team members into leadership positions within the organization, and helped push me into the role I have today.

Your advice to an aspiring entrepreneur?

I would advise anyone who is an aspiring entrepreneur to spend some time soul-searching that desire to be absolutely sure it is what they really want. Pursuing this path will challenge anyone in ways they could never imagine or prepare themselves for. All the schooling, reading, and conversations they have will only take them so far – the rest is up to instinct and the ability to stay true to your heart no matter what anyone around you says.

Describe the ideal experience using Tri-Digital.

I must first say that ALL experiences with Tri-Digital are ideal – we specialize in delivering AWESOME!

Seriously though, the true ideal experience with our team is bringing us into your organization to partner on a series of events year-over-year to develop a long-term strategy of building a consistent virtual audience. The partnership over a long period of time is where we really shine because it gives us the opportunity to understand your needs, the expectations of your audience, and work with you to develop custom solutions to meet these needs and expectations. Just like any event experience, it takes time to build a reputation that attracts the size and type of audience you are looking to achieve.

How do you motivate your employees?

My team is motivated by providing the highest quality of work for our clients and trusting the Leadership team will reward them for this accomplishment. We offer a long list of benefits, which include unlimited paid time off for every team member and allocated budget for each department to participate in team outings of their choosing.

I also work really hard to remain connected with my growing team by holding quarterly team meetings outside the office and hosting a one-on-one with each person every six months. The team meetings allow me to connect with everyone in a group setting to focus on the long-term goals for the business. The one-on-ones provide everyone the opportunity to speak directly with the leader of the organization to express their concerns, aspirations, confusions, uncertainties, excitement, and most of all their ideas for how they would like to improve themselves and the company.

Lastly, I would like to think I motivate by example. Since beginning my career with Tri-Digital at age 24 I have worked hard every day and put the business first. In those eleven years I have worked my way from being an Administrative Assistant managing the front desk for my dad and his partner to a Project Manager on largescale corporate events, and ultimately to President and Leader of almost 30 team members. It is this path my dad gave me encouragement to pursue, that has taught me to empower my employees to pave their own way through their careers. I feel honored that most of their paths continue to journey through Tri-Digital and hope that will continue for years to come.

One food and drink left on earth, what would you choose?

Kumamoto Oysters on the half shell with a bottle of Domaine Saint AIX Rose.

What literature is on your bed stand?

“Managing the Millennials” written by Mick Ukleja, Chip Espinoza, and Craig Rusch

Role model - business and personal?

They are one and the same for me - my two fathers and my grandfather on my mom’s side. All entrepreneurs, all loyal men, all successful, and all people who empower me to accomplish whatever I put my mind to.

Current passion?

This sounds extremely cliché, so please note that you have been forewarned. LIFE! This is the only thing that encompasses everything fueling me – my husband, ten year old son, daughter who we will be meeting sometime in September, Tri-Digital and the incredible team of people who I consider my second family, backpacking 45 miles west to east across the Cascade mountain range, snowboarding, surfing, gardening, painting, updating our mid-century rambler in north Seattle room-by-room, seeing any band perform live, SEA-HAWKS, road trips around our beautiful northwest region, learning as much as I can about anything and everything to ensure my continued growth as an individual and a leader.

Favorite travel destination?

For Tri-Digital, I love going to any new city so I can explore during my downtime and try new restaurants with my team.

With my family, I always love going back to my husband’s childhood home on Oahu to visit his parents and lifelong friends. Ohana Mau Loa.

On my own, France will always hold a special place in my heart.

What's next for Tri-Digital?

Although we are a service-based company, the time has arrived to provide our clients with two proprietary products set to launch later this year and in early 2016. We have been building up to the development and release of these products over the past several years, so it is a goal our entire team is very proud to be reaching. I cannot yet release information about these products, but I can tell you our hope is to evolve the way corporate event content is consumed!






(Photo Credit: Nikki Closer Photograpy)