It’s often proven that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. The act of following in family footsteps can be seen among celebrities, artists, academics, athletes, chefs and businesspeople. It is even seen in digital signage, where the prominent Varrone family is known for having founded Exponation, LLC ten years ago.
“I’m pretty entrenched in it,” laughed Andrea Varrone, Sales Manager, The Digital Signage Expo, at Exponation, when asked about the digital place-based industry. “My father (Angelo Varrone, CEO of Exponation) founded GlobalShop with his former company, Shore Varrone. When he noticed digital signage coming around the bend, he enlisted Chris Gibbs (my brother-in-law and President of Exponation) to be his partner at Exponation and develop Digital Signage Expo. I have been in the industry for just shy of five years but it feels like much longer; I’ve watched it evolve quite drastically.”
Andrea didn’t always know she would end up in digital signage, as do many others who follow the lead of their kin. She studied Psychology in university, dabbled in Human Resources and then spent the bulk of her career selling real estate. Andrea admittedly did not know much about the technology side of the industry when she was approached by Exponation but has deeply enjoyed her learning experience since the transition. Now, she is referred to as a matchmaker of sorts thanks to her knack for recognizing her clients’ needs and facilitating the introduction of customers who have never met so that they may discuss business opportunities.
“So much has been changing so quickly,” stated Andrea regarding her time in the industry. “My dad developed DSE in the basement of his house, cold calling and trying to persuade folks to try something new. Other shows such as InfoComm and NAB were more recognized and digital signage was so new. 2013 marked the 10th anniversary of DSE, now the world’s largest international trade show dedicated to digital signage and OOH networks. Instead of simply hanging a screen on a wall, DOOH has become a fascinating medium for customer engagement and interactive technology that broadens horizons and possibilities.”
Another change has had to do with the perception of females, particularly at trade shows. For the first couple of years on the job, Andrea worked hard to demonstrate that she knew the industry and was able to help her clients. And while “booth babes” still exist, Andrea pointed out that she has been seeing an increase in female clients and trade show attendees, making women less of a rarity at digital place-based shows and events.
Andrea insists that the most vital way to remain informed and respected in the digital place-based space is to network, seek hands-on experience and grasp educational opportunities wherever possible. Last year, she completed the Digital Signage Certified Expert course which provided her with the knowledge to understand all the moving parts of the industry.
Where to from here? “Who knows!” laughed Andrea. “The industry is ever-changing; companies are buying, selling, merging and learning as they go. I certainly think the future is limitless. The way the world is advancing technology-wise is a great thing for digital signage. We’re ready and rooting for it.”
Andrea Varrone is the sales manager of Digital Signage Expo (DSE), the world’s largest trade show and conference dedicated to digital signage, interactive technology and out-of-home networks.
She joined Exponation, LLC (the owner and producer of DSE) in 2008 as a sales associate after successful (short) careers in the real estate and human resources fields. Andrea was promoted to Sales Manager in 2011 after achieving significant sales increases in her territory while demonstrating industry-focused initiative by helping to create and develop DSE’s very popular “Huddle” networking events.
As sales manager of DSE, she has helped this highly-popular event grow in size from 158 exhibitors and 48,650 net square feet of exhibit space in 2008 to 211 exhibitors (+34%) and 68,895 (+42%) net square feet in 2013. DSE 2013 shattered all-time records in every major measurement category.
Andrea successfully completed the Digital Signage Experts Group Certification Program in July 2012, adding the DSCE certification credential to her professional resume.
She is a graduate of the University of Georgia and resides in Atlanta.