BUSINESS ANALYSIS: Q&A
BUSINESS ANALYSIS: Q&A
Will IT and networked AV knowledge drive future talent?
Educating the next wave of pro audio professionals was one of many topical themes discussed at this year’s AES New York show. We caught up with Bardy Hayes, principal consultant at AV recruitment consultancy, Interfacio, on the changing needs of the industry.
WHERE ARE THE LARGEST TALENT GAPS IN THE PRO AUDIO SECTOR AT PRESENT?
This varies region by region, but it is no secret that there is a large shift in the level and type of technical requirements for sales and support professionals. The demand and understanding required to effectively market, promote and sell have definitely shifted towards digitally controlled and networked products. The easy answer is just to look for IT guys to fill those roles; however, the highest demand is for IT-savvy pro AV professionals who also have a fundamental understanding of audio, video, display and control. Having said that, acoustics knowledge, production best practices and hands-on, real-time skills are still very desirable. My advice to any person that will listen – and there aren’t many – is that integration technology is not only very progressive and challenging but is growing both vertically in size and horizontally in scope across AV and industries beyond it. Embrace IT, networking, control, and you will never have trouble finding a position or adding value in the sector you are passionate about.
HOW DO YOU THINK AV ROLES HAVE CHANGED OVER THE LAST FIVE YEARS WITH GROWING IT CONVERGENCE?
The way I see it, the laws of physics haven’t changed. How sound waves behave in a given space is still the same; how our brain interprets those sounds hasn’t changed either. How to compose and place elements in a piece of art hasn’t improved since the Renaissance, and our colour blending isn’t transcending Van Gogh’s. What is constantly changing is scale, power and resolution. So, the tools have changed, but the overall objectives have not. We want experiences that sound and look pleasing and we want to be able to understand what is being communicated. I think that to be successful in the AV field you still need to start with the fundamentals but embrace and immerse yourself into the incredible array of tools at our disposal today. And, to always embrace change. One thing that is beyond dispute: today’s audio, lighting and video tools will become obsolete during our time.
WHICH AV SUB-SECTORS ARE YOU SEEING THE MOST RECRUITMENT SPEND FROM?
My perspective is skewed, due to my industry background and contacts base, but I am definitely seeing more activity in the sound reinforcement side, both portable/touring and install and lighting. The biggest spend is going on the control/processing side of the integration sectors.
WHAT DESIRABLE EXPERIENCE ARE YOU SEEING COMMONLY SOUGHT BY PRO AUDIO COMPANIES?
As our industry continues to mature from its heady rock ‘n’ roll heritage, I see companies steering away from its shoot-from-the-hip past – real science is supplementing and even replacing intuition and trial and error in acoustic and electronic design. Plus, certification and best practices are a welcome change to some of the messy and sometimes even dangerous practices some of us grew up with. I am very happy that no ‘around the back’ photos of my original touring racks survived. I would hate for them to be compared to some of the amazing (and can I say beautiful?) racks. AV companies today are looking for candidates with better and better education – true understanding and fluency of physics on the audio side, and certification and standardisation on the installation and commission sides. Professionals that want the best AV jobs need to always improve their real-world and certifiable skills and that process should never end.
IN THE AREAS OF PRO AUDIO, SENIOR MANAGEMENT, SALES AND MARKETING, CAREER MOVES LOOK TO BE INCREASINGLY BY WORD OF MOUTH. WOULD YOU AGREE? AND, IS THIS SOMETHING EXCLUSIVE TO THE INDUSTRY?
There is disagreement on where the borders lie that encompass our market segment but, even including commercial video, architectural lighting and the overlap into consumer audio, we work in a small, and some might say incestuous, sector. I regularly end up sitting on a plane beside someone who works for a company that is larger than our entire industry.
The question involves two major factors – how a company continues to innovate and grow, combined with the theory that an executive needs to regularly change companies to progress his or her career. There is lots of evidence on both sides of that discussion. New blood, fresh perspectives and evolution are healthy for our industry. And you can see that, in many cases, a change of company can open up paths for promotion that may have been unavailable to a person in their current space. Too much change and disruption can also be harmful to a business, but even that concept has been famously disputed. This continuous migration in pro audio seems to be spread across all our sub-sectors – and perhaps across all progressive industries. I believe that, generally, it is healthy.
Another healthy thing is mixing up the gene pool. We’re always looking to identify and bring in less visible fresh talent and also non-AVL industry people to our clients. With the basic skill set, of course, we believe this infusion adds to innovation and progress in the industry. I think doing a lot more than just recycling existing known names is critical. It’s the main rationale behind what we do.