Ghost Productions Appoints New CEO of Medical Animation & VR Studio
MAPLEWOOD, MN, September 20, 2020 /24-7PressRelease/ — Ghost Productions, a leading medical animation and vr surgery firm based in St. Paul, MN has announced that Laura Schulz, has been appointed its new CEO and President, effective immediately.
Schulz has worked with Ghost Productions for more than 9 years. She joined the company as a Project Manager, working with animators and other professionals to ensure timeliness and quality of deliverables. Throughout the years, Schulz received further training in her role and became a certified SCRUM Master as she quickly became an integral part of the Ghost Productions team.
In recognition of her importance to Ghost Productions, she has been selected as the next President of the company, and will guide it through the next phase of the company’s development, ensuring it remains a leader in the field of medical animation and establishes itself as pioneering innovator in 3D medical animation, surgical simulation and medical virtual reality.
The previous CEO and initial founder of Ghost Productions, Stephan Kuslich, has stepped down but still remains part of the company as the head of the Ghost Productions VR department. Kuslich is focusing his efforts to develop cutting-edge VR surgical simulation and medical training technology.
“The main core of our business – 3D medical animation – and the pioneering efforts of Ghost have helped make medical animation a standard communication tool for both medical marketing and procedural training,” says Schulz. “Medical animation is now fully established and no longer needs an entrepreneurial bleeding-edge innovator like Stephan. We need someone good at managing the production process, which is where my leadership style shines.”
Before joining Ghost Productions, Schulz was a commercial photographer, and she holds a BA in Advertising Photography from the prestigious Brooks Institute, CA. According to Schulz, this background helps her understand the client’s desire and convey their message to the production team in a language they understand.
“When I started at Ghost Productions, the quality was great, but we lacked organization and process,” says Schulz. “My methods have improved profitability, employee morale, and overall efficiency while maintaining 97% client satisfaction. We do more work in less time – but the quality remains as high as it’s ever been.”
Schulz credits her interest in technology in part to her parents who were both computer programmers at Burlington Northern Railroad. In the 80’s there was a larger percentage of women in tech then today, a fact that shocks Laura’s mother who recalls a time when at least 40% of the computer science workforce was women. She also credits her interest to one of her childhood hobbies – computer games – and she still plays games regularly. When asked about the challenges that women in tech face in this male-dominated industry, Schulz said that women who are confident and competent in what they do should be able to thrive in any industry.
“I honestly don’t think about it much,” says Schulz. “To be successful as a woman in tech, you have to work hard and challenge yourself continually to keep learning and finding new solutions. These are the same requirements my male predecessor had to meet. In tech, problems need solutions – and technical problems don’t care who you are.”
Schulz’s parents have always been major supporters of her interest in tech and have also influenced the managerial approach that she will bring to Ghost Productions as president, ensuring a healthy and robust corporate culture that puts people, namely its clients and employees first.
“My parents taught me the general philosophy of ‘work to live’ – and not the other way around. Ghost Productions is a company that respects work/life balance. We expect our employees to do their best at work and focus, and to take the time they need to relax. But when it’s time to complete a large project on a short deadline, the team always rallies to find solutions to get it done.”
In her new role as President, Schulz will be continuing to lead Ghost Productions to provide cutting-edge medical animations for customers, and will also be investing heavily in the VR products offered by the company, developing cutting-edge surgical simulation technology to revolutionize how medical products are demonstrated and how surgical training is conducted.
“Our VR department has already developed a software tool to remotely connect multiple users in a virtual surgical theater using virtual reality headsets,” says Schulz. “This tool helps surgical teams train together, and saves medical device sales reps lots of travel time and expenses. Now, our clients can send a VR headset to a surgeon overnight by mail, and their sales reps can join them in a virtual surgical demonstration – just like they would in an actual operating room or cadaver lab.”
But the VR tools currently offered by Ghost Productions are only the beginning, according to Schulz. “I will keep expanding the VR department and developing more proprietary software development tools. In the future, these tools will allow us to make realistic, highly-functional surgical simulations as commonplace for our clients as 3D animation currently is today.”
In addition, challenges of COVID-19 have forced adjustments to be made in the fields of medical communication and marketing. Remote work and collaboration are now commonplace, even in the medical field, where most medical conferences have now entered the virtual space for the foreseeable future.
“We envision a day when holographic AR glasses are as common as iPhones and allow us to fully exploit telepresence,” says Schulz. “I think that virtual telepresence will likely become a disruptive technology making 2D video conferencing methods like Zoom obsolete. In the future, we will be able to fully exploit telepresence in ways that differ little from actually being physically present in the same conference, classroom, or operating room.”
During Schulz’s transition into the role of President, COVID-19 has also forced some changes in the working culture of Ghost Productions during this time of transition. The many of firm’s staff members are now working remotely, and have embraced online conference calling and communication methods.
“The transition has been mostly seamless,” says Schulz. “Our biggest challenge is pushing massive amounts of data around for 3D rendered projects. As we move into the future of tech and remote work becomes even more commonplace, we will need to further optimize the methods by which we deal with large amounts of data. New technologies like GPU-based real-time rendering will help us and our clients achieve better interactivity with the content while reducing data size significantly.”
Though Ghost Productions will be focusing on cutting-edge VR development tools, it will not be losing its focus on high-quality medical animation. Schulz and the team at Ghost Productions are equally as interested in new innovations in 3D rendering and other advances that may push the limits of 3D medical animation.
“GPU-based 3D rendering is becoming a viable solution,” says Schulz. “And it will allow us to get results to our clients faster than ever before. In the future, being able to render animations in real-time would allow us to get instant feedback for both our producers and our clients, and could dramatically enhance both animation quality and productivity.”
While transitioning into her new role, Schulz will be responsible for making leadership decisions that will affect the future and culture of Ghost Productions, and is fully prepared to take on this responsibility, and take the actions needed to grow the company.
“If I need help, it’s my responsibility as a leader to delegate, hire, or acquire what Ghost Productions needs to get the job done, “says Schulz. “In my current role, I am often relying on my predecessor, Stephan Kuslich, to collaborate with me and research the right solutions. We’re working closely together at this time, and in the future, I will continually use his and everyone else’s skills, talents, and passion to ensure every decision that I make benefits Ghost Productions and our clients as much as possible.”
But though Schulz will now be the head of Ghost Productions and will be responsible for leading the company into the future, her day-to-day role will still have her deeply involved with the various projects taken on by the company.
“Communication is the skill I use the most – in a typical day, I balance communication between our production team, our clients, and our vendors. I also spend a lot of time studying and analyzing the trajectory of each project, ensuring they are getting done on time and remaining within budget.”
Ghost Productions has been a leader in 3D medical animation since it was founded in 1994, and the promotion of Schulz will ensure that the company continues to focus on this field and deliver excellent services, while also looking forward to cutting-edge VR innovations and other emerging technologies.
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