Autodesk’s acquisition of Discreet Logic in 1999 established our leading role as a software provider to the media and entertainment industry. It also brought us exceptional talent, including Diana Colella, whose two-decade rise at Autodesk has now reached a new peak. I’m excited to share that Diana has been promoted to Senior Vice President of Autodesk’s Media & Entertainment (M&E) vertical solutions group, which oversees for our collection of tools used in both film and television production and videogame development. In her new role, Diana is responsible for increasing the visibility and strategic focus of our M&E efforts, and ultimately, leading our growth in the industry.
Diana began her career at Autodesk as a finance business partner but rapidly deepened her organizational experience through a broad range of roles including in product management, product design, worldwide support and services, sales, and operations. In addition to her deep knowledge of the M&E industry, Diana has led several high-profile cross-industry initiatives, including the launch of the One AutoCAD vertical toolset and the Genuine program to increase licensing compliance.
Her resume and track record are impeccable, but it’s the intangibles that set her apart. Diana is a shining example of the culture we strive to build at Autodesk, especially her relentless pursuit of the best outcome with anything she does. She’s also notable for being the first female Autodesk executive based in Canada and outside the US. I had a chance to talk with her about her trailblazing career.
Give us the 10-second overview of your career at Autodesk.
I have steadily built experience in a range of functional areas over the past 20-plus years at Autodesk. I started in M&E but have gained diverse knowledge in many other roles and projects. Each one has prepared me for this new stage.
What are three career moments that are most memorable to you?
The first is our transformation to subscription. I’m proud that M&E was the first and fastest to adopt the new model. I was also part of the launch of One AutoCAD, which streamlined use of and access to the software across industries. Lastly, I had a big hand in democratizing creative finishing, taking it from a hardware and software business to software only.
You’ve reinvented yourself in your career many times over. What’s your advice for doing so and advancing your career?
My philosophy is simple: follow the work, not the titles. I have always jumped at the chance to get involved in different projects for which I may not have had the precise background or experience. Every effort allowed me to learn from others and set me up for my next career move.
Tell us what you’re most excited about in your new position.
It’s truly an exciting time in the M&E industry, which has always had to innovate and respond to changing market dynamics. Now more than ever. The pandemic has disrupted the industry. The cloud is accelerating faster than any of us would have imagined. I am eager to see Autodesk seize on new opportunities and play a bigger part in the industry.
You’ve worked in the M&E industry for more than 20 years. How have you seen the industry evolve?
Historically, business model innovation has started in M&E. The best example is music. I came of age with cassette tapes and later CDs. Back then, who would have thought we would be streaming and paying monthly for music? M&E drove the change from systems-based products – using both hardware and software – to software only. It also led the shift from perpetual licenses to subscription. The next evolution is licensing based on consumption. Where the industry has been slower is harnessing the power of the cloud, but with the pandemic, that is changing fast now too.
How does it feel to be the first female Canadian executive at Autodesk?
I am super proud to be the first female exec from Canada and from outside of the US. I want to bring a diverse international point of view to the table. It means a lot to me to be an example for other women in the company. I’m proof that hard work and wise career choices over many years can bring opportunity at Autodesk.
What’s your favorite 2020/pandemic splurge?
Renovating a section of my home to make remote working easier.
What’s one word that describes you?
Courageous. This is the Autodesk value that I am very passionate about. Without courage, it is hard to make decisions, build strong relationships, and ensure diversity and inclusivity. I am so proud of Autodesk’s work around courage and really believe it has changed our company culture for the better.
Diana is based out of Montreal, Quebec. Prior to Autodesk, she worked as an auditor at KPMG and holds a Bachelor of Commerce in Accounting from Concordia University and an MBA from McGill/HEC University.
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