Written by Kelly Punzalan
Edited by Lauren Fajardo and Cebo Cruz
Interviewed by Bea Rondon
Despite rising numbers of women in animation, the industry is still heavily male-dominated, with only 23.2% of jobs in the field held by women according to Animation Career Review. Marla Rausch thankfully did not have to endure the less-than-ideal treatment that many women in the technology industry are used to. Throughout her career, people naturally had formed biases and misconceptions towards her based on traditional gender stereotypes, but with hard work and the unwavering support of her husband and children, Rausch gained their respect and built meaningful professional relationships.
Prior to becoming the CEO and president of Animation Vertigo, Marla Rausch obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication at the University of the Philippines – Diliman, majoring in Journalism, then ultimately worked as a motion capture tracker in the animation field. At the beginning of her career, clients often mistook her for a sales or marketing representative solely because of her sex. Rausch considers herself fortunate since this kind of assumption was the only form of discrimination she faced. She describes her experience as “relatively uneventful” compared to other women who have been harassed and bullied.
One of the challenges Rausch faced as an entrepreneur was handling a business with young children in the picture. Starting her company in the Philippines with her family residing in the United States separated her from her 2-year-old and 5-year-old for some period of time. This also meant frequently travelling from the Philippines to the U.S., not to mention the fact that she and her husband financed the company from the ground up. Instead of discouraging her, these obstacles pushed her even further to be a model of ambition and achievement for her children.
This go-getter attitude was inspired by Bernarditas de Castro-Muller, Rausch’s late grandmother and mentor. As a respected diplomat who had a hand in the negotiations for climate change in developing countries with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), de Castro-Muller was truly a force to be reckoned with.
“She was independent, strong-willed, stubborn – she didn’t conform to the traditional Asian woman stereotype even at a young age. She made me realize that I can make a difference and I can do it my way. She always had expectations from me and my cousins, and I’ve often felt the need to ensure to live up to them.”
Now a thriving business for nearly 15 years, Animation Vertigo works on motion capture animation and post-production for films, television, and video games. The company has clients from all over the world and has produced notable works such as Mortal Kombat X, Activision’s Call of Duty franchise, and Injustice: Gods Among Us. Rausch plans to take the company to the next level by becoming more involved in the growing animation industry here in the Philippines.
As a female CEO, Rausch makes it a point to advocate for women and gender equality in the workplace. At Animation Vertigo, they aim to promote a culture wherein one’s skills and strengths are valued, wherein quality of work and performance is given importance over gender biases.
Like Nike’s famous slogan, Rausch’s advice for girls who want to make it in the big and challenging world of tech is to just do it. Fear is something everyone experiences, but it shouldn’t be a reason to hold back.
“Don’t be afraid to fail because everyone does, take a moment to reflect on failure but get up and do it again. If you believe it hard enough and want something badly enough, nothing should be able to stop you. Find mentors, ask questions, don’t be afraid to learn, but do it.”