How I Fell into AV
Around 20 years ago, I secured my first job in AV following a business traineeship and subsequent sales roles at Dun and Bradstreet. I didn’t have a particular interest in Audio Visual and neither did I go specifically go looking for a role in the industry. A recruitment agency offered me the opportunity to apply for an account manager position at Sanyo. I was excited about the projection technology and the chance to work for such a global brand. Unfortunately, I lost out on the role to someone who came from a competitor and who had many years of AV industry experience. Despite this initial setback, I was lucky that Sanyo created a role for me as a Product Specialist. Two further sales roles at Sanyo and four years later, I took a short career break to travel the world and wanted to return to AV. I knew that what I was best at was people, and a role came up in AV recruitment. I immediately knew this was for me! I got to stay in an industry that I’d fallen into and in love with and I got to keep in touch with all my colleagues and customers.
Next came Woopjobs, and as they say, the rest is history!
The reason I’m writing this is that so many people I speak to lots of people who tell me that they “Fell into AV”, but why do we all stay, and what message should we be putting out to the next generation to make the AV industry a career choice as opposed to an “accidental” move?
I spoke to some industry gurus to find out what led them to AV and what has kept them here.
Lucy Baum, who started her AV/UC career at Imago ScanSource and has now started an exciting new chapter at Bluejeans, confirmed that she never imagined a career in this industry.
“I didn’t plan on getting into the AV industry when I was younger. I thought the world of AV sales would be too technical and incongruent with my background in pubs and clubs. I was wrong. Joining a distributor gave me the chance to learn from people who enjoyed what they did and wanted you to succeed. I got to work with so many different accounts. I was/am never bored, and with the industry we’re in, I don’t see that changing with innovations coming out every month.”
Business Development Manager Jordan Deemer from Barco told me that, straight from college, sales was for him. “I was hungry, ambitious and ready to start a career. Like many people living in Basingstoke, working for a distributor was somewhat of an inevitably. However, it was at Exertis where I was first introduced to “AV”, a category I hadn’t previously even heard of. Huge video walls, UHD projectors, interactive displays seemed so cutting edge that suddenly laptops weren’t interesting enough anymore!”
Jordan went on to tell me how the industry has completely evolved to be an integral part of a company’s strategy. As a result, he wanted to specialise further, delving deeper into the Digital Workplace. This was when he moved to Barco; for Jordan, it was a perfect fit to take that next step deeper into AV. Four years on, he hasn’t looked back. Jordan told me, “As accidents go, a career in AV has been a great one. The technology couldn’t be developing faster and working with key customers across EMEA, I couldn’t be closer to it.”
Chris Smith, UK Sales Director at Hypervsn, was working in recruitment when he fell into AV!
“I was asked to visit a company who were looking to use our recruitment services to fill some business development roles they had. They took me through to a meeting room, and on the wall was an Interactive Whiteboard. I had not seen one before; this was when education had started adopting interactivity in the classroom. The guy stood up and began to go through his company presentation, annotating over the top of his slides with extra information. As he was presenting, my mind was going through all of the different ways to use this technology. As he finished his presentation, he clicked a few buttons and sent all information across by email; It blew my mind. I started to ask questions about the technology. Could you use it this way? Can you do this with it? What about if you wanted to do this? At this point, something switched inside me, and he could see it as well; I had just talked myself into my first Audio Visual job.
I have never looked back; I have really enjoyed the past 15+yrs; I would never have pictured back then the experiences and opportunities I have had through working in this industry. No one day is the same; we meet people from all walks of life. You could find yourself working on projects with your favourite brands, favourite sports team. We cross so many different verticals. If someone had told me 25 years ago that I would now be playing around with 3D holographic displays, I would have laughed.”
Shure‘s Carys Green, I’ll quote her exactly here, “I fell into the AV industry entirely by accident having been made redundant from a sales role at a start-up software company in 2005. I asked a friend who worked in recruitment to help me find a new position, and he put me forward for an Account Manager role at AV distribution company Maverick. I didn’t know what AV was, and I didn’t know what a distribution company was. But I instantly loved the buzz and the fast pace of working on a busy sales desk, assisting customers with their orders, and helping to solve problems. The people were friendly and fun to work with; the technology was exciting and innovative.”
Sixteen years later, Carys is still in the industry, having worked for a number of systems integrators; She recently joined Shure, a manufacturer of microphones. “The AV industry is like family to me now. I love the ever-changing technology we sell, the way we all interact with technology not only at work but in retail and leisure continues to evolve and adapt, and it’s exciting that no day, week, month or year are ever the same.”
I went on to ask Carys what she felt was needed to help people find the industry and allow them to pick it rather than stumbling into it! “It would be great to educate young people through school career events, social media and higher education as to the opportunities this industry can offer, allowing people to actively look to enter an AV workplace rather than fall into one as I did!”
Rachael Hamilton of AV Magazine fame, who now runs “IAR“, a dedicated AV consultancy to help AV businesses improve their sales and brand growth, started her career journey by studying broadcast journalism and politics at university. “I hoped to become a foreign correspondent having grown up in Libya. Sadly, I was unable to find a job in broadcast, so I fell into magazine sales back home in Derby. I knew I needed to be in London to get a journalism job, so I applied for an account manager role at AV Magazine in 2007 and got it, thinking if I work closer to their editorial team, I can make the jump, but once in AV, I found my passion for it. A short subtitle in broadcast further reaffirmed my love for AV, and I soon worked my way up the career ladder at AV Magazine. In 2020 having achieved everything I could at AV Magazine, I decided to jump ship and leverage the knowledge, experience, qualifications I acquired and connections I had made to set up my own company IAR.”
I asked Rachael what made her stay in AV. “I’ve spent more than a third of my life in AV! I think that speaks volumes about how I feel about the industry. What you do find in AV, unlike any other industry’s is that once you’re in, you don’t leave. There’s so much passion in everyone you meet, and it makes you feel like you’re part of something special. I spent my entire career working at AV Mag, which is unheard of in publishing. My bosses frequently asked me whether I wanted to progress my career and run multiple magazines across various markets outside of AV, but I always declined; my heart was in AV. I’ve grown up in AV, and I have been extremely fortunate over the years to have people from across the industry take me under their wing to educate me. There is an overwhelming amount of support running across the sector. It’s where my friends are”
Rachael, like many of us, does see a need to encourage younger people into AV.
“No one outside the industry knows what the AV industry is. Most people working in AV cannot define what AV means. We all have different definitions – so how can we expect to attract the next generation into our industry? We have a vast skills shortage which is well known, but there is little being done from businesses to address this – there are a few businesses out there working on this, but they are doing this in silos. The entire industry needs to back this problem to futureproof the industry for all of us working in it. There is a considerable amount of STEM graduates with transferable skills, but they aren’t going to come into AV as there’s no awareness or career paths to bring them through.”
Rachael continued by telling me the four things she believes needs to happen to achieve this.
- A dedicated outreach programme to build awareness of AV at school, college and university level. Influencing the student, teacher and parent about AV and the career opportunities within it.
- AV businesses creating apprenticeship and career path opportunities within their organisation and utilising their apprenticeship levy.
- A training organisation to be formed that would have apprenticeship and graduate training for AV, ready to be placed in AV organisations.
- An AV careers company needs to be formed. To act as an intermediary between educational establishments and AV businesses.
Our industry boosts people from all backgrounds; however, regardless of what brought them to the industry, they all promote the same reasons for staying. People and technology. The industry is both charming and exciting. Audiovisual technology makes a difference in peoples lives, and that provides a feel-good factor. It’s tangible, and we can see it in everyday life.
So, my question is: if it’s the people and technology that makes this industry great! Then how do we highlight the benefits of our industry to the next generation without waiting for them to fall into it?
Woopjobs would love to know your ideas on what we need to do. So, if you have any thoughts, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. This article will be a two-parter with the next one based on your responses.
I HATE MY JOB
This year has been pretty awful, not just because of COVID-19, but due to you hating your job! Did we hit a nerve? It’s ok to admit you don’t love what you do! We know that you feel guilty even thinking about it what with some of your friends losing their businesses, relatives losing the job they’ve been in for 20 years and others losing much more due to this horrible pandemic.
There is no denying that the unemployment rate has gone through the roof but, staying at a company that makes you feel miserable can have a lasting effect on your sense of self-worth.
So what do you do if you hate your job, and want to scratch the eyes out of co-workers?
Admit it to yourself and talk it through.
Talk to a friend or family member about the issues and how it makes you feel, then write down all the problems and work through how you might be able to overcome them. When we hate one element of our jobs we tend to see everything else negatively, by writing them down, most people are then able to see what problems are actually problems and what are merely fuelling the fire.
Note down the physical issues caused by not loving your job.
Is your job causing you to have issues sleeping, tenseness in one or more parts of your body, stress headaches etc.? Now check that all these issues are related to the stress of hating your job or are there other issues that might be more of a problem and that those aren’t effecting you and causing you anxiety.
Now you have focused on your feelings and are more transparent on what the issues are; it is time to look at removing them.
Go back to your list of reasons why you hate your current job and make a column on what it would take for each issue to go away. If you know it’s impossible to make these amends; you now know it’s time to start seeking another opportunity.
However, if several of the issues could be addressed and you would be happy in your role, then you should work out a plan to address those issues, be it people or the situation. Once we remove emotion and look logically at problems, they often aren’t as bad as we first think.
If you still feel miserable and that your job is causing you more stress then you feel comfortable with then contact Denise or Jenny here at Woopjobs, we are here to offer advice and will do our best to turn your frown upside down.
We canvas the diverging views of senior managers at Ascentae, LG and Maverick AV Solutions on the changing requirements for AV candidates brought about by the pandemic.
Let’s Keep Our Glasses Half Full!
With the worries, uncertainty, and functional changes resulting from COVID-19, we will all need to develop new ways of working and coping. As an industry, we are better placed than many when it comes to home working, but how do we keep positive and work around the new family norm?
It’s easy for our minds to race to the worse possible outcome right now, whether this is losing a loved one, losing our jobs, the long-term effects this will have on the world economy. No one can blame us for having a higher level of anxiety and feeling stressed. Now is the time to pause and to consciously try to regain perspective before accepting the worst-case scenario. We’re not suggesting putting your head in the sand – we’re well aware that these are some of the toughest times many of us will face. However, it is the time to aim for a mindset of ‘realistic optimism’, as an optimistic outlook is more likely to boost your resilience and motivation in stressful situations.
What is Realistic Optimism?
Being realistic and optimistic means being cautiously hopeful that things will work out and focusing on a good outcome. A realistic will finds out the facts and acknowledges the challenges and constraints they face. A person who is optimistic will recognise that many situations have a range of possible interpretations and choose to focus on the positive, not the negative. Someone with a “realistic Optimism’ is aware of the positives as well as the negatives in each situation and actively look for future opportunities, focusing on what they can control rather than what they have no influence over.
Focus on Facts
To build this more resilient mindset and avoid getting overanxious, it helps to look out for and consider some positive facts alongside the seemly overwhelmingly negative ones. For example:
- A significant number of employers within the AV industry are adopting a ‘business as usual’ attitude, adapting rapidly to working from home policy and changing environment. There are still many jobs being advertised, and companies that are confident they have the resources to continue growing after the impact of the virus has become manageable.
- Indications from countries such as China who were affected earlier are that the effects are time-limited, and so we can plan for after the summer.
Be Kind to Yourself
Now is the time to put the ‘family first.’ If your family is sick, or you currently have children at home all day, your priorities will inevitably shift. That’s OK. Maybe work isn’t 9-5 now, or you have to take shifts with your partner to cover childcare. That’s OK, be kind to yourself, forget perfect parenting, and be flexible about adjustments you all need to make. Try to establish a routine that works for everyone and support those colleagues whose situations might be more difficult than your own.
For those of you with more time on your hands now, we have seen from many companies in our industry offers of support, training, and even free evaluation products to help with up-skilling and improving your chance of a triumphant return to work! Contact Denise or Jenny or check the resources section below which we will keep updating for you.
Coronavirus (COVID-19): advice for employers and employees
Coronavirus (COVID-19): advice for employers and employees
Parents worried about children’s anxiety
For Parents worried about children’s anxiety during this period, here is a link to a document put together by Reading University’s Emerging Minds team https://emergingminds.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/COVID19_advice-for-parents-and-carers_20.3_.pdf?fbclid=IwAR3ivRCWGje9BjY6hS9PfcLA8Srl6CDX9p6LSmwhTIJT0f9I8K9LXbkI8KI
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