At Dell Technologies, we’re passionate about ensuring equal opportunities for all. We believe that diversity equals power, and one of our social impact goals is by 2030, half of our global workforce and 40 per cent of our global people leaders will be women.
To help promote the wide-ranging benefits of a diverse workforce, the Dell Technologies ANZ Women In Action Employee Resource Group launched a series of virtual STEAM webinars aimed at high school students from across Australia and New Zealand, exposing young minds to the success stories of various men and women, while showcasing the vast array of career opportunities available to them in science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics.
In September, students from dozens of high schools across Australia and New Zealand heard from Jessica D’Ali, Technical Director at Animal Logic, one of the world’s leading independent creative digital studios that has been producing award winning design, visual effects and animation for 30 years. Jessica shared her personal experiences and career journey in the animation industry, working on high profile, internationally acclaimed films including Peter Rabbit 2.
Drawn To Animation
From a young age, driven by her passion for films, Jessica knew she wanted to be involved in the creation of animated films. “They made me feel so happy, and I wanted to make others feel happy, the same way they did to me,” she explained.
In Year 9, Jessica decided to take on Information Software & Technology (IST) at high school. While she didn’t have any interest in working with computers at the time, she picked up the subject because one of the units was focused around digital media and animation.
By Year 10, Jessica had applied for work experience at Animal Logic, and when she wasn’t chosen, she reconsidered her career goals and began to look at a career in software engineering.
A year later, Jessica attended the National Computer Science School, and despite her initial hesitance, it was an eye-opening experience for her. She elaborated, “It changed my perception of the industry. It made me realise how diverse the STEAM industry is, and that it’s about working in teams to help others.”
She went on to study Information Technology (IT) at University of Technology Sydney (UTS), doing a mix of programming and communication, or in other words, “bridging the gap between the client and the technology.” During this time, she worked in various positions, including an IT Project Manager at Westpac, which she believes was an important experience, as knowing what you’re not interested in is just as important as knowing what fields you do want to work in.
Finding The Right Path
In 2017, Jessica applied for the UTS Animal Logic Academy, a custom built digital-production studio on the UTS campus, where, during the one-year course, she learnt how to write software specifically for animation and VFX, resulting in her receiving a Master of Animation and Visualisation.
After graduating, she began working at Method Studios, where she put her skills to use in blockbuster movies such as Skyscraper and Outlaw King, and recalled the thrill and excitement of seeing her name appear in the credits on the big screen. In 2018, she achieved her childhood dream after securing a full-time role at Animal Logic to work on the production of Peter Rabbit 2, before moving on to DC League of Super-Pets. Jessica is now working on a new project as a Lead Technical Director.
In her role as a Technical Director, she works in a team that is responsible for coding software solutions that enable animators to achieve their creative goals. As part of providing technical support for artists, Jessica develops the code that allows them to express their visions in the most efficient way possible.
Her job involves coordinating with all the various art and animation departments to find out what can be done to make their jobs simpler and more effective, and swiftly finding solutions to challenges to ensure production doesn’t grind to a halt.
Speaking on the trajectory of her career, Jessica said “From a very young age, I wanted to work with animated movies, and I never would’ve guessed that science and technology would get me there. I just stuck with what I was naturally good at, and the opportunities started to present themselves.”
Students from across ANZ were enthralled with Jessica’s journey to achieving her goals, and asked her various questions ranging from the ins and outs of being a Technical Director, the key skills needed for the workforce of the future, to the most rewarding part of working in the animation process.
Her passion for animation shone through, and the positive feedback from all schools involved demonstrated just how diverse a career in STEAM can be.
The Dell Technologies’ Employee Resource Groups (ERG) are communities where members with common interests or backgrounds bring their collective voices together to drive impact. The Women in Action ANZ ERG aims to support, develop and champion females in the technology industry across Australia and New Zealand. Looking to share your personal journey with the next generation of STEAM workers? Contact email@example.com to find out how you can get involved.