Most everyone in our industry will tell you: They love AV. They love the people, the tech, and the non-stop evolution. But it seems that most of all, they love telling you about it.
One Industry, Endless Possibilities
Whatever your background or skill set, you can have an amazingly varied career in Communications Technology – all without ever leaving the industry. See how the people profiled here have created their owns paths. Then imagine where yours might lead.
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Ernie BeckCapture Design Group, LLCSee Career Path
Ernie BeckCapture Design Group, LLCIndustry Experience: 9Discovering His Passion"There are few things other than sound and video systems that can immediately change someone’s mood. Seeing the impact of the work I do gives me tremendous satisfaction."
After one too many nights of having beer spilled on him, getting his ears blown out, and wondering how he was going to pay the rent, Ernie made the strategic decision to give up doing live sound at The Brass Monkey Bar and pivot instead to the world of AV.
“I got hired by Baltimore-based Design & Integration, Inc. as a field technician, pulling cable on installation projects,” says Ernie. “I took the opportunity, as it came with health insurance and a week of paid vacation, and I could leverage my AV background.” As it turned out, Ernie was a pretty lousy field technician, but after about six months he transitioned to the position of System Designer, a role much better suited to his talents. Another six months later, he earned his CTS (Certified Technical Specialist) certification, and suddenly everything started to click.
“Coming to understand the big picture of AV integration, combined with the confidence boost of CTS certification made all the difference,” he explains. “Within four years of joining the company, I’d been involved in major projects for the National Parks Service, the U.S. Marine Corps, and Johns Hopkins University, where I helped design instructional learning systems for their liberal arts campus. I really got lucky – while at the same time working my ass off. That combination is where I’ve always found my greatest opportunities.”
Blending his technical skills and customer service acumen proved to be a winning combination for Ernie at his next employer, industry behemoth AVI-SPL, where as an Account Manager he focused on strategic business planning and development within the Mid-Atlantic healthcare market. “This position consisted almost entirely of sales, however, and I longed for a balance with engineering and design,” says Ernie.
So he moved next to the global architecture firm RTKL, where he served as a consultant in the Technology Design Studio focusing on audiovisual collaboration and integrated building technology system design and planning. “Being exposed to the architectural process was a real game changer, and I worked on fantastic projects for organizations like the Wharton School and the Smithsonian institution.” But here, too, the balance was still a little off; his position turned out to be heavily focused on engineering. “So I returned to AV integration, taking a job at Pennsylavania-based Cenero as a Senior Sales Engineer, then transitioning to Major Account Executive.”
While at Cenero, Ernie took a more consultative approach to systems integration, serving some of Cenero’s largest enterprises accounts. But his entrepreneurial spirit and desire to improve the industry was starting to grow. He saw the talent and diversity gap in pro-AV and realized the industry had an accessibility issue. The on-ramp into pro-AV didn’t exist the way it did in other professions. He subsequently used his industry connections to turn his small pro-AV networking group into an official non-profit organization called Integrate Baltimore. “The move to make Integrate a non-profit solidified our purpose as a champion for growing pro-AV access. Our mission is to close the technology divide by increasing access to technology and careers in the pro-AV industry.”
Ernie, however, still loved the consulting and design process and wanted to maintain his place in the field as a subject matter expert, while finding a way to balance his for-profit and non-profit pursuits. So in August 2018, Ernie started his own consulting practice, Capture Design Group, where he serves as President and Principal Consultant. “This is the kind of work that I was meant to do,” says Ernie. “It’s what I’m best at – and most passionate about. And when you approach work from that perspective you can do great things.”
Ernie Beck’s Career Path
Industry Sector Job Titles End-User Customer Live Sound Engineer Integrator Field Technician Integrator Systems Designer Integrator Account Manager Consultant Firm Senior Designer / AV Consultant Integrator Senior Sales Engineer Integrator Major Account Executive Non-Profit Founder & Executive Director Consultant Firm Founder & Principal AV/IT Consultant Industry Sector Job Titles End-User Customer Integrator Consultant Firm Non-Profit Manufacturer Live Sound Engineer Field Technician Systems Designer Account Manager Senior Designer / AV Consultant Senior Sales Engineer Major Account Executive Founder & Executive Director Founder & Principal AV/IT Consultant
Alexis La BroiAvitecture, Inc.See Career Path
Alexis La BroiAvitecture, Inc.Industry Experience: 25The Rise of a Leader"There’s a lot of mobility in this industry, and as I’ve transitioned from live events to integration, I’ve been consistently supported by the Pro AV community."
Alexis entered Northwestern University intending to become an engineer. But one year into her studies, “I decided that it wasn’t for me. So I thought about what I loved, and it just so happened that I really enjoyed my work-study job in the AV department at the student union,” she explains. “So I switched my major to Communications and graduated with a focus on technical theater.”
She landed an internship at the Black Ensemble Theater in Chicago, but after graduation from college, Alexis started working for PSAV at the Renaissance Hotel downtown, providing AV consulting services for conferences and presentations. This was the start of a 20-year career in live events.
PSAV moved her to Washington, DC, where Alexis worked at various hotel properties planning the technology portion of events and providing technical guidance. Promoted to Director of Sales at Gaylord International, she managed a wide swath of financial operations, led a team of five sales managers to achieve almost $10M in sales in 2010, and trained all sales new hires and transfers, assisting in developing up to 20 sales managers in the region.
Next, Alexis went to work for AVI-SPL as a National Account Manager, and then Media Vision as Regional Sales Manager for the Mid Atlantic region. In that capacity, she provided conference microphone systems requiring language interpretation, voting/polling, assistive listening/audio distribution, and collaborative discussion solutions for government, corporations, associations and more.
“These were great experiences, but they led me to the realization that I really wanted to work for an integrator, so I moved next to Avitecture as a Systems Consultant,” she says. “I like consulting on and designing AV systems. Walking into an empty ballroom, and eight hours later seeing a full show was something I really enjoyed about live events. Designing AV installations is also something I enjoy – in part because of the same feeling of transformation. It happens over a longer period of time, but the change is just as dramatic. Whether I’m creating environments for attendees at an event or participants in a meeting, it’s all about giving people the power to communicate their ideas.”
Twenty-five years into her career, Alexis has achieved a high level of influence and visibility in an industry where women, and particularly women of color, have not traditionally been well represented. “I love this field because there’s no end of opportunities available to you. I only wish I’d seen more people like myself when I was younger because it could have speeded my progress,” she explains. “Now, I see one of my roles as being that role model. Because – like I always tell young people – if you see me, you can be me.”
Alexis La Broi’s Career Path
Industry Sector Job Titles Integrator Technician Integrator Assistant Director Integrator Director of Sales Integrator National Account Manager Manufacturer Regional Sales Manager – Mid Atlantic Integrator Avitecture Systems Consultant Industry Sector Job Titles Integrator Manufacturer Media Industry Association End-User Customer Technician Assistant Director Director of Sales National Account Manager Regional Sales Manager – Mid Atlantic Avitecture Systems Consultant
Justin WattsSee Career Path
Justin WattsIndustry Experience: 22 yearsReaching the Stratosphere"What got me into this industry – and keeps me here – is the creativity. It’s as much art as it is science. And every day brings new opportunities, new challenges, and new successes to celebrate."
Bell County, Texas didn’t offer a world of opportunities for AV-oriented young people, so Justin sought them out on his own, taking stagehand and soundboard gigs at local concerts, theatrical events and churches before landing a position at a broadcast TV station as a Master Control Operator.
Leveraging that experience, he went to work next for Anadarko Petroleum. “I pushed the proverbial AV cart at first, since the company didn’t have an integrated projection solution,” says Justin. The resourcefulness and problem-solving skills he cultivated there prepared him for his next position, at British Petroleum, where Justin started out as an IT analyst in operations and rose to become the Data and Collaboration Systems Support Lead for trade floor operations. Next he moved to Apache Corporation and the position of IT/AV Program Manager, responsible for design, development and delivery of IT/AV-related technology-based programs.
Then the oil market crashed. Good thing Google came calling, because in 2015 Justin went to work for the tech giant as a Program Manager in its corporate engineering group, overseeing all AV deployment on a global scale. His experience there included six months in the company’s satellite division. “I installed radio technology on physical satellites, interfaced with the Air Force and NASA from the company’s mission control center; it was a fantastic experience.” Through Google, Justin was enabled to work on projects around the world, including Singapore, India, Paris, Munich, Norway, and more
His next move took him to Houston and positions first at the nation’s fourth-largest AV integrator, AVI Systems, then at a construction company called Marek. “I’ve always tried to maintain a balance between my AV and IT experience,” he says, “and these were good experiences for me.”
But when Facebook asked Justin to become its Global Service Delivery Manager, he had to take it. “I’ve been afforded a lot of opportunities,” he says. “From the day I began, I’ve had almost every single job you can have in this industry, and now I find myself in charge of the maintenance, care and feeding of one of the largest video systems on Earth.”
Justin Watts’s Career Path
Industry Sector Job Titles Consultant Firm AV Contractor Media Master Control Operator Integrator IT Analyst End-User Customer IT&S Analyst End-User Customer Data and Collaboration Systems Support Lead End-User Customer IT/AV Program Manager End-User Customer Corporate Security Analyst End-User Customer Program Manager – AV Engineering Integrator Technical Services Manager End-User Customer IT Project Manager End-User Customer IT Operations Manager End-User Customer Global Operations Service Delivery Lead Industry Sector Job Titles Consultant Firm Media Integrator End-User Customer Manufacturer AV Contractor Master Control Operator IT Analyst IT&S Analyst Data and Collaboration Systems Support Lead IT/AV Program Manager Corporate Security Analyst Program Manager – AV Engineering Technical Services Manager IT Project Manager IT Operations Manager Global Operations Service Delivery Lead
Alesia HendleyAccess NetworksSee Career Path
Alesia HendleyAccess NetworksIndustry Experience: 7 yearsEngineering a Career"When I entered this field, I thought audio engineering was largely limited to music, but there’s a whole world out there to explore. If you’re passionate about what you do, this industry gives you the opportunity to pursue your interests from multiple angles."
Audio engineering might not have been a calling for Alesia Hendley, but she definitely had a talent for running AV at her father’s church, where by the age of 14 she was doing full-blown production work, handling everything from streaming visuals to sound recording.
To help establish herself as a freelancer after her family moved to Houston, Alesia enrolled at the MediaTech Institute. “It was a great experience, but most of it was dedicated to studio work, and at that point I saw myself working front-of-house for Beyoncé, so while working as an audio engineer and producer for artists, I pivoted to live events, going to work for the Phoenix Design Group, handling stage, lighting and audio-visuals in multiple venues – everything from fashion shows to corporate gigs,” she explains.
During her stretch there, Alesia also took a position as AV Operator at The Berry Center in Houston, operating various AV systems within the multi-purpose sports complex. “Hours were long. I wasn’t driving all over, but I was doing lots of teardowns, resets and actual operation of the events, sometimes 18 hours a day,” she says.
“At the same time, I started writing about my experiences for various magazines and began building my own personal brand in the AV space. This really connected me to people in the industry. One of them was the CEO of Access Networks, who in 2018 hired me as an Associate Sales Engineer.” For Alesia, one of the benefits of working with Access Networks is the company’s position as a bridge between the worlds of AV and IT. “This is the direction our world is going, and I love being at the center of it.”
All the while, Alesia has kept up with writing, and today she also hosts a podcast called Digital Signage Stories. In addition, she has been active in various industry groups, including co-heading the AVIXA Women’s Council’s Houston branch. Until recently, Alesia also helmed the Texas Chapter Head of SoundGirls.org, a group devoted to inspiring and empowering the next generation of women in audio. “The opportunities are out there, and part of my job is to raise awareness about them.”
Alesia Hendley’s Career Path
Industry Sector Job Titles End-User Customer Audio Engineer/Media Coordinator End-User Customer Freelance Audio Engineer End-User Customer AV Tech > AV Operator Media Multimedia Journalist Media Director of Social Media / Co-host / Podcast Logistics & Show Host Integrator Associate Sales Engineer Industry Sector Job Titles End-User Customer Media Integrator Manufacturer Industry Association Audio Engineer/Media Coordinator Freelance Audio Engineer AV Tech > AV Operator Multimedia Journalist Director of Social Media / Co-host / Podcast Logistics & Show Host Associate Sales Engineer
Savannah WashburnNational Systems Contractors AssociationSee Career Path
Savannah WashburnNational Systems Contractors AssociationIndustry Experience: 2 yearsPlanning for the Future"This industry is like one big family, and every day is a learning opportunity."
Not only had Savannah never intended to work in AV, she entered the industry with absolutely zero knowledge of it. “I had just graduated with my Associate degree in Business Administrative Management, and had signed on with a temporary employment firm,” says Savannah. “They assigned me to the National Systems Contractors Association, but wouldn’t tell me where I was headed until the day before I was due to report. So I walked into the NSCA knowing absolutely nothing about what it did.”
The discovery was a happy one. “I loved it there. The people were great, the organization was interesting, and I dove right into the work.” Initially helping out with member relations, Savannah proved to be a versatile asset who could provide value across the organization, including in events management.
“We had someone running events, but he had moved to part-time status and was working remotely,” explains Savannah. “As NSCA grew, it became clear that we needed someone in the position full-time. I was already immersed in the work, so the transition was pretty smooth.”
Among her responsibilities as Events Manager, Savannah coordinates two major annual events for NSCA: the winter Business & Leadership Conference and the fall Pivot to Profit event. She also assists with NSCA Educational Foundation events and initiatives, including ones related to the Ignite initiative. “NSCA’s growth parallels that of the industry itself,” says Savannah, “which makes every day an adventure.”
Savannah Washburn’s Career Path
Industry Sector Job Titles Industry Association Member Relations & Events Coordinator Industry Association Events Manager Industry Sector Job Titles Industry Association Manufacturer Media Integrator End-User Customer Member Relations & Events Coordinator Events Manager
Neil WilliamsAVI-SPLSee Career Path
Neil WilliamsAVI-SPLIndustry Experience: 8 yearsPowering People"If you have a passion for creativity and bringing experiences to life, this is a fantastic industry that’s evolving quickly into a high-tech sector that touches every aspect of our lives."
Historically, Human Resources wasn’t considered a viable career objective. Schools didn’t even bother teaching it. But all that has changed. Today HR has come to be seen as integral to advancing business strategies, and is even considered a profit center.
What spurred the transformation? The AV industry can give credit to people like Neil Williams, a leader in organizational change.
Like so many people in our industry, however, Neil didn’t plan on a career in AV. “I had an interest in workforce strategy right from the start,” says Neil, “But I knew nothing about AV. In fact, my first professional position was as an HR assistant at a hospice.” Neil knew what he wanted to achieve, however, and his desire to affect change for a fast-growing, dynamic company led him to AVI-SPL, one of the world’s leading digital workplace services providers.
“Immediately, I became fascinated with the industry. It’s evolving so fast, and from a millennial perspective, I see it basically as future proof. After all, by 2020 half the workforce will be digital natives, and they’re only going to require more technology going forward,” says Neil.
In addition to its powerful business offerings, AVI-SPL stood out for its receptiveness to rethinking HR. “We have concentrated our HR goals on providing our people with the right resources and tools to elevate their personal and professional success,” he says. From increasing the company’s focus on people analytics, learning development and training development, to instituting a new talent management strategy, Neil has been instrumental in efforts both to attract new talent and retain valued employees.
Today Neil’s responsibilities extend to several areas. As Director of Human Resources, he’s AVI-SPL’s global HR business partner for its service line of business. He also oversees the talent acquisition process, and is actively involved in compensation and performance management issues.
“In partnership with the VP of HR, I help ensure that our HR strategy aligns with our business strategy,” says Neil, “because when they’re in sync, we unleash powerful forces for growth.”
Neil Williams’s Career Path
Industry Sector Job Titles Integrator HR Generalist Integrator HR Manager/HRBP Integrator HR Director Industry Sector Job Titles Integrator Manufacturer Media Industry Association End-User Customer HR Generalist HR Manager/HRBP HR Director
Michael BridwellDana InnovationsSee Career Path
Michael BridwellDana InnovationsIndustry Experience: 11 yearsMaking His Own Opportunity"How much do I love this industry? I’d be thrilled if my own kids went into it."
What’s more impressive – Michael’s ability to see the future, or plan for it?
It was the year 2007. The owner of a successful marketing and business consulting company, Michael had more than six years of professional achievement under his belt. But when the first evidence of the upcoming 2008 Great Recession presented itself, he sensed a need to prepare and adapt. “A lot of my work was in the real estate sector, and I could see that it was weakening,” says Michael, “so I looked at areas with strong growth potential, and I identified health care and technology as possibilities for a career change.” In short order, he had interviews with a hospital and a high-tech company in the AV industry.
AV won out. “The firm was called Digital Projection International,” Michael says. “I knew nothing about their projection technology initially, but the openness and drive of the company – just seeing engineers solving problems in real time – drew me in. When they offered me the position of Marketing Communications Manager, I didn’t hesitate to say yes.”
The move paid off for Michael. “I got a chance to help grow our business across channels, and I was the beneficiary of a ridiculous amount of mentorship. The opportunity and encouragement propelled me forward.”
From Digital Projection International, then to Screen Innovations, and now in his current position at Dana Innovations, where he is Director of Commercial Sales, Michael has flourished professionally. “I joined a 35-year-old company that hadn’t previously been in the commercial channel, and they’ve given me the opportunity to develop sales processes and programs, cultivate partnerships, hire sales people, and grow our businesses in totally new ways.
“I’m tremendously gratified to be in the AV. This is a field that’s filled with free thinkers and entrepreneurs. If you want to apply your creativity and have control over your destiny, I can’t imagine a better industry to be in.”
Michael Bridwell’s Career Path
Industry Sector Job Titles Manufacturer Marketing Communications Manager Manufacturer Director, Marketing Manufacturer Vice President, Marketing & Home Entertainment Manufacturer Vice President, Sales & Marketing Manufacturer Director, Commercial Sales Industry Sector Job Titles Manufacturer Media Integrator Industry Association End-User Customer Marketing Communications Manager Director, Marketing Vice President, Marketing & Home Entertainment Vice President, Sales & Marketing Director, Commercial Sales
Max JohnsonNational Systems Contractors AssociationSee Career Path
Max JohnsonNational Systems Contractors AssociationIndustry Experience: 2 yearsGuiding an Industry"The industry is really welcoming. Even competing integrators come together to learn from each other, and I love being a part of that."
Fresh from earning his B.B.A. in Marketing from the University of Iowa Tippie College of Business, Max landed the position of Digital Marketing Coordinator at Cedar Rapids-based de Novo Marketing. One of his clients was the National Systems Contractors Association (NSCA), a business resource, advisor and voice for pro AV/Security integrators across the United States and Canada.
Among the projects Max led was a series of YouTube videos for NSCA, in which the association’s director answered questions from integrators around the country. In the course of working on the videos, Max not only cultivated his skills in production, marketing and analytics, he developed a deep understanding of the AV/Security industry. So it didn’t come as much of a surprise when NSCA asked him to sign on as its Sales and Marketing Specialist.
“One of my chief areas of responsibility involves ensuring NSCA members are aware of all the resources that we provide, from industry benchmarking and metrics data to tools that help them grow their businesses,” says Max. In addition to working with member integrators, Max also focuses on growing NSCA revenue, developing and maintaining its customer relationships, and expanding the organization’s customer base.
“This is a great time to be working in this industry,” Max says. “Every day I get the chance to hone my marketing skills while immersing myself in a sector that’s growing rapidly and doing amazing things with technology.”
Max Johnson’s Career Path
Industry Sector Job Titles Marketing/Other Digital Strategy Coordinator Industry Association Sales and Marketing Specialist Industry Sector Job Titles Marketing/Other Industry Association Manufacturer Media Integrator Digital Strategy Coordinator Sales and Marketing Specialist
Tobi TunglConference Technologies, Inc.See Career Path
Tobi TunglConference Technologies, Inc.Industry Experience: 18An Ambition to Grow"We create really cool experiences every day. Seeing my clients’ eyes light up when it all comes together is something I never get tired of."
After graduating from high school, Tobi just cut to the chase. “I didn’t go to college; I wanted to work.”
Through his brother, Tobi was directed to SequoiaNET, a dot.com company that hired him as a cabling technician. When the business was purchased three years later by Analysts International Corporation (AIC), he got promoted to Cabling Project Manager, a position that took Tobi out of the field environment and into a pre-sale and project management realm. In that capacity, he opened an AIC office in Lansing, Michigan. “We started from scratch,” says Tobi, “hunting for clients and building a team of technicians, and we saw rapid growth.”
Then AIC got acquired and Tobi took a position at NETech Corporation. “They didn’t do anything related to AV or structured cabling,” says Tobi, “so I approached the owner about expanding our capabilities, and became manager of the new Media Solutions Division. It grew right away – so fast it was hard to keep up, but I learned a ton.”
The skills he gained made Tobi an ideal candidate to get snapped up by Bluewater Technology, a large Michigan-based AV integrator. As Vice President of Integration, he built the division from 27 people to 75, and increased sales nearly fourfold with offices in Michigan, Ohio, and Indianapolis, and a presence in Chicago.
Throughout his career, Tobi had been in touch with the leadership at Conference Technologies, and in 2018 the company hired him as a director, leading change, growth, operational efficiencies and owning strategic relationships in its West Michigan area. “What I love about this position is the opportunity it provides to pursue my two principal professional passions – creating teams in which every member can realize their potential, and being able to lead client relationships,” explains Tobi.
Though he passed on a university education, Tobi has steadily amassed professional credentials over the course of his career, including Certified Technology Specialist (CTS), Certified Technology Specialist Design (CTS-D), Registered Communications Distribution Designer (RCDD) and DigitalMedia Certified Designer 4K (DMC-D) certifications. “This is an industry that’s always changing, and as a leader it’s my responsibility to keep on learning.”
Tobi Tungl’s Career Path
Industry Sector Job Titles Integrator Cabling Technician Integrator Cabling Project Manager Integrator Business Area Manager, Pre-Sales Integrator Media Solutions Manager Integrator Vice President, Integration Integrator Director Industry Sector Job Titles Integrator Manufacturer Media Industry Association End-User Customer Cabling Technician Cabling Project Manager Business Area Manager, Pre-Sales Media Solutions Manager Vice President, Integration Director
Kaleo LeeOperations ManagerSee Career Path
Kaleo LeeOperations Manager:"This is an industry where you can really put your creativity to use to find the best solution within a given set of constraints and requirements."
Kaleo wins the award for Earliest Start in AV. “I was probably six years old when my dad first had me vacuuming at our family business, The Audio Visual Company (AVCO) of Hawaii,” laughs Kaleo. “And from that point on, I always had some kind of job.”
Yet Kaleo never considered an actual career position there. In fact, after earning his BS in Aerospace Studies from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Prescott, he enlisted in the army, and it was during a period of leave prior to deployment that Kaleo took a job as a technician at AVCO simply to pick up some extra cash. During his two tours in Iraq as an infantry officer, however, Kaleo cultivated an array of leadership and management skills that he believed could be put to use upon his return. So three years after leaving home, “I resumed my job as a technician, but pitched my dad to become his technical manager – a role where I could bring greater consistency to the way we executed,” he says. When the Great Recession hit Hawaii in 2010 (a few years after the rest of the country), AVCO needed sales leadership, and again Kaleo stepped in to rebuild growth momentum at the company.
He continued to work for AVCO remotely after moving to California some years later, and then transitioned to a position at BrightSign, one of America’s leading digital signage manufacturers. As the company’s Southwest region Sales Manager, Kaleo enjoys the bonus of having his home state of Hawaii as part of the territory, so he’s always able to keep a watchful eye on the family business.
Kaleo Lee’s Career Path
Industry Sector Job Titles Integrator Technician Integrator Technical Manager Integrator Vice President, Technical Operations Integrator Vice President, Sales & Business Development Manufacturer Sales Manager – Southwest Industry Sector Job Titles Integrator Manufacturer Media Industry Association End-User Customer Technician Technical Manager Vice President, Technical Operations Vice President, Sales & Business Development Sales Manager – Southwest
Thuy ToOperations ManagerSee Career Path
Thuy ToOperations ManagerIndustry Experience: 4Accounting For Talent"I love being part of an industry that’s always evolving, not just technologically but culturally."
Thuy always pictured herself as an auditor, and in pursuit of that goal she went to work for an accounting and finance temp agency. Several months after getting assigned to ClearTech, she accepted a full-time position as an Accounting Specialist at the southern California-based AV integrator.
“From the day I started, however, I wasn’t just doing accounting,” she explains. “I was active in various departments, wearing a number of hats.” Reflecting her broad range of capabilities and widening responsibilities, Thuy rose to become ClearTech’s Operations Manager. “I not only ensure everyone – employees, subcontractors, vendors – gets paid. I oversee all contracts. I account for every dollar that comes in, and make sure that every dollar that goes out is strategically well-spent.”
Thuy’s position has not only given her a fuller picture of her employer, but also the world in which it operates. “I’ve really come to love the character of this industry,” she says. “The technology is ever-changing, and that keeps us on our toes. But also the culture has evolved. There’s more awareness and diversity, something that’s very apparent when I attend industry events and see how much effort is being put into how we can attract and retain the most talented people.”
Thuy To’s Career Path
Industry Sector Job Titles Integrator Temporary Accounting Employee Integrator Accounting Specialist Integrator Operations Manager Industry Sector Job Titles Integrator Manufacturer Media Industry Association End-User Customer Temporary Accounting Employee Accounting Specialist Operations Manager
Dayna BaumannControl ConceptsSee Career Path
Dayna BaumannControl ConceptsIndustry Experience: 3.5A Relationship to Success"Our industry is big, but it feels like a small family. Not just in my company but outside of it, people are always available to offer advice and assistance."
After working as a clientele account manager in retail, Dayna brought her skills to Control Concepts, Inc., where she is the company’s Customer Relationship Manager in charge of facilitating and growing loyal relationships among clients.
For Dayna, those relationships begin early, with the management of initial details surrounding bids for prospective clients who have requested quotes. Her responsibilities continue throughout the project…and never really end. “Our focus is on establishing long-term relationships,” she says, “and that includes follow-up and after care measures – being available to answer questions, resolve issues, perform troubleshooting, and help manage maintenance and support agreements.”
Dayna also helps to develop, execute and manage marketing efforts through social media, and she represents Control Concepts at trade shows and technology showcases. As time has passed, her position has become increasingly public-facing and sales-focused, and the company has enthusiastically supported her with professional education. Most recently, Dayna earned the InfoComm Recognized AV Technologist Certificate.
“Wherever you land in this industry, the fact that things are always changing provides lots of room for growth. It’s great for people who don’t want to pigeonhole themselves,” she explains. While advancing within the company, Dayna has steadily increased her presence outside it by participating in a number of organizations, including the AVIXA Women’s Council, Young AV group, and Diversity Council.
Dayna Baumann’s Career Path
Industry Sector Job Titles Manufacturer Account Manager Manufacturer Customer Relationship Manager Industry Sector Job Titles Manufacturer Media Integrator Industry Association End-User Customer Account Manager Customer Relationship Manager
Victoria FerrariNetrixSee Career Path
Victoria FerrariNetrixIndustry Experience: 19Back, Forth & Ever Upward"This is an industry where you can use both your left and right brain. It’s technical, but also artistic."
All Victoria wanted was a summer job. But within six months of taking a receptionist position at an AV technology manufacturer called Boeckeler, she was promoted to sales and marketing, and even begin doing technical support. “The company involved me in every aspect of the business, including manufacturing and R&D,” says Victoria, “and I loved it all.”
Then she attended her first trade show. “Seeing all the incredible technology on display, I was sold on the industry.” She began managing trade show activity, while diving deeper into sales and marketing.
Five years later, Victoria moved out of state and took a job in the IT industry at Accudata, starting in inside sales before rising to a managerial position overseeing a team of ten. Then her old employer came calling with an offer to relocate and become National Sales Manager. Her growing desire for more industry exposure subsequently led Victoria to Los Angeles-based Stewart Filmscreen, but her tenure was cut short by a family move to Houston. There she sought out an integrator by the name of Synergy CT, now a unit of IT technology integrator Netrix LLC, where she became a Senior Account Executive.
“My career has really come full circle,” Victoria says. “As AV and IT converge, I’m increasingly cross-selling to customers who profit from the full breadth of my expertise. It’s a very consultative environment, and I’m honored to be a advisor in the center of it.”
Victoria Ferrari’s Career Path
Industry Sector Job Titles Manufacturer Receptionist Manufacturer Technical Support Lead & Tradeshow Manager Manufacturer North America Sales & Marketing Manager Manufacturer Western Regional Sales Manager Manufacturer Account Manager Integrator Senior Account Executive Industry Sector Job Titles Manufacturer Integrator Media Industry Association End-User Customer Receptionist Technical Support Lead & Tradeshow Manager North America Sales & Marketing Manager Western Regional Sales Manager Account Manager Senior Account Executive
Gina SansiveroAtlasIEDSee Career Path
Gina SansiveroAtlasIEDIndustry Experience: 14A Happy Discovery"The people in this industry are wonderful. They’re smart, respectful and supportive in a way that makes you want to work with them and for them."
Rent, student loans – they may be two of the most powerful motivators for taking a leap into a field you never considered. They’re what drove Gina, a psychology graduate, to apply for the position of Marketing Coordinator at an R&D firm in the optics industry.
“It was called eele Laboratories, and they developed many products, including one in particular that utilized an innovative design for a user-replaceable projector lamp. In part I got the job because they wanted someone with no preconceptions who could bring a fresh perspective to it. That, I had!” says Gina. Soon she rose to the position of Marketing Manager, then Sales and Marketing Manager, and when eele spun off the manufacturing unit as Projector Lamp Services, Gina became a Partner with responsibilities over sales and marketing teams.
As technological change brought a decline in the use of traditional projector lamp technology, Gina moved on to another manufacturer called FSR, where for almost five years she held the position of Director of Business Development, Education, focusing on growing brand awareness and demand generation within the higher education vertical. Then AtlasIED came calling with an offer to become its Vice President of Marketing and Corporate Communications.
“This was an opportunity to go back to my roots in marketing and develop a team that I could support and grow,” says Gina. “I love the leadership role, and am thrilled they thought of me. But that’s how this industry works. Whether you’re on the integrator, consulting or manufacturer side, it’s easy to develop relationships that will lead you forward.”
Gina Sansivero’s Career Path
Industry Sector Job Titles Manufacturer Marketing Assistant (paid internship) Manufacturer Marketing Coordinator Manufacturer Marketing Manager Manufacturer Sales & Marketing Manager Manufacturer Sales & Marketing Manager Manufacturer Partner, Sales & Marketing Manufacturer Director of Business Development, Education Manufacturer Vice President of Marketing and Corporate Communications Industry Sector Job Titles Manufacturer Media Integrator Industry Association End-User Customer Marketing Assistant (paid internship) Marketing Coordinator Marketing Manager Sales & Marketing Manager Sales & Marketing Manager Partner, Sales & Marketing Director of Business Development, Education Vice President of Marketing and Corporate Communications
Hope RothRiordan Brothers IntegrationSee Career Path
Hope RothRiordan Brothers IntegrationIndustry Experience: 14Programming a Career"One thing that impresses me about this industry is how welcoming and open people are; they’re always willing to help me learn and add to my experience."
Hope earned her B.S. in Computer Science just in time for the bursting of the dot.com bubble in 2004. But if the timing wasn’t ideal for beginning a programming career, it worked out perfectly in leading her to our industry.
“My first job in the field was as a Classroom Technology Support Specialist at Tufts University,” she says. “At one point I met a sales rep for a manufacturer called Crestron, who suggested I learn how to program the gear I was operating and maintaining.” Taking his advice to heart, Hope began taking classes in the field. Subsequently, she took a job as a technician at Verrex, a commercial integrator, and when a controls programming position opened at the company, she went for it. Next, she moved to OneVision Resources for a short time, and then to Riordan Brothers, where she holds the position of Lead Programmer.
“We do complex projects involving integrated environments in the residential and hospitality sectors,” she explains. “I love the challenge of figuring out how to do complicated integrations as efficiently as possible, and I never get tired of seeing how enthusiastically our clients react to the results.”
Hope Roth’s Career Path
Industry Sector Job Titles End-User Customer Classroom Technology Support Specialist Integrator Onsite Technician Integrator Control Systems Programmer Integrator Programming Specialist Integrator Lead Programmer Industry Sector Job Titles End-User Customer Integrator Manufacturer Media Industry Association Classroom Technology Support Specialist Onsite Technician Control Systems Programmer Programming Specialist Lead Programmer
Lauren SimmenAMETEK: ESP, SurgeX and PowervarSee Career Path
Lauren SimmenAMETEK: ESP, SurgeX and PowervarIndustry Experience: 14An Unexpected Path"I can’t quite put my finger on it, but something about this industry sucks you in. It’s partly the people – who are really interesting – and partly the freedom you have to take your career in any number of directions."
“Coming out of college, I planned on going into PR, and found a position with a firm that happened to specialize in residential AV technology,” says Lauren. “I had no particular interest in the field and initially treated the job as a placeholder, but the more time I spent with dealers and manufacturers, the more I came to love the industry and its people.” Starting first as an Account Coordinator, then rising to Senior Account Executive, Lauren got exposed to a broad swath of Communication Technology. “Eventually, I grew curious about what it would be like to work on the manufacturing side, and the only way to do that was to move on in my career.”
When a manufacturer by the name of SurgeX came calling, Lauren joined up as its Communication and Partner Support Director. “My unofficial title, however, was Utility Infielder, because I did a bit of everything, from marketing and inside sales to product development, customer service, and field staff support for our regional managers,” she says. “As we grew, I moved into a full-time sales role as Regional Sales Manager, which I did for couple of years before becoming Director of Marketing.” That’s the position Lauren holds today, not only for SurgeX but for the parent company’s sister brands, ESP and Powervar.
“My running joke is that AV is like the Hotel California – you can check out, but you can never leave. I know very few people who’ve actually left it, I think because our knowledge and experience is applicable across the range of players, from dealers to manufacturers and consultants,” says Lauren. “In our industry, you can always take a new job, but you’re never starting from zero.”
Lauren Simmen’s Career Path
Industry Sector Job Titles Marketing/Other Account Coordinator Marketing/Other Senior Account Executive Manufacturer Communications and Partner Support Director Manufacturer Regional Sales Manager Manufacturer Manager, Marketing Manufacturer Director, Marketing Industry Sector Job Titles Marketing/Other Manufacturer Media Integrator Industry Association Account Coordinator Senior Account Executive Communications and Partner Support Director Regional Sales Manager Manager, Marketing Director, Marketing
Mike BrandesQ-SYS Video Solutions – QSCSee Career Path
Mike BrandesQ-SYS Video Solutions – QSCIndustry Experience: 15 yearsA World of Possibilities"This industry has options for everyone. I work with people whose backgrounds range from electrical engineering to theater."
After studying audio production in college, Mike landed a job as Technical Director of World Help’s Children of the World Choir, managing technical and logistical aspects of a 250+ city tour with over 400 performances annually.
Next he became a Media Specialist for Palm Beach Atlantic University, designing and installing AV systems in over 100 rooms spread across three campuses. Reaching the point where he was ready for something new, Mike applied “on a whim” for a position with Vaddio, a Minneapolis-based manufacturer of pan-tilt-zoom cameras and peripherals. In his role as Field Applications Engineer, he helped build Vaddio’s sales engineering team. “I had no plans to leave, but then I was contacted by an audio company called QSC, which wanted to get into the video space, and I seized the opportunity to help build their business,” says Mike.
At QSC, Mike exercises both his technical skills and his business acumen, assessing potential markets and making the business case for developing products targeted to them. Nearly three years into his tenure there, he’s played an instrumental role in introducing a number of well-received products for this fast-growing industry player.
Mike Brandes’s Career Path
Industry Sector Job Titles End-User Customer Technical Director End-User Customer Media Specialist Manufacturer Systems Application Engineer Manufacturer Product Manager, Q-SYS Video Solutions Industry Sector Job Titles End-User Customer Manufacturer Media Integrator Industry Association Technical Director Media Specialist Systems Application Engineer Product Manager, Q-SYS Video Solutions
Renee BensonNEC Display SolutionsSee Career Path
Renee BensonNEC Display SolutionsIndustry Experience: 10 yearsConnecting to Success"I love the camaraderie in our industry. You get a sense of friendship and family very quickly, and you receive support from all corners as you progress in your career."
After beginning her professional life in the IT world during the heady days of the dot.com boom, Renee entered the AV industry as an Account Manager at Troxell Communications, a supplier of audio/video products to business and education markets.
From there she moved to Central Marketing, Inc., a manufacturing representative firm for pro-AV presentation products, total room solutions and digital signage technologies, in the role of Territory Manager. Three years later, Renee came across an opportunity in distribution with Almo Professional A/V, where she rose to the position of Senior Account Manager serving pro A/V integrators, dealers and consultants.
As time passed, says Renee, “I found myself gravitating toward manufacturers, so I started looking for opportunities I really respected. Leveraging the professional relationships I’d cultivated, I found an ideal match at NEC Display Solutions, which I joined as an Account Manager serving the education market. This is a perfect build on the experience and connections I had amassed over the years, and I enjoy getting great products into the hands of a wide range of people.”
Renee Benson’s Career Path
Industry Sector Job Titles Integrator Account Executive Independent Rep Territory Manager Distributor Account Executive Distributor Senior Account Manager Manufacturer Account Manager, Vertical Sales – Education Industry Sector Job Titles Integrator Independent Rep Distributor Manufacturer Media Account Executive Territory Manager Account Executive Senior Account Manager Account Manager, Vertical Sales – Education
Kyleen DonahueTierney Brothers, Inc.See Career Path
Kyleen DonahueTierney Brothers, Inc.Industry Experience: 18 yearsFrom Front Desk to Top Management"I love the challenge of working in an ever-changing industry. Every day is an opportunity to tackle something new."
Kyleen didn’t intend on a career in this industry – she majored in kinesiology and coaching. But an interest in technology prompted her to take a receptionist position at an AV integrator by the name of Tierney, and before she found herself working as a Systems Integration Coordinator, providing installation schedules to customers, coordinating jobs, and working with installers, subcontractors and project managers.
Hungry for more knowledge on the technology side, she joined the Technical Services Department as a Coordinator, working hands-on in equipment servicing and repair. From there, Kyleen was promoted to Technical Service Manager, in charge of a team of six.
Noticing a pattern to the kinds of service calls she was receiving, Kyleen identified an opportunity to help customers troubleshoot issues on their own. Conducting technical services training classes was so satisfying that she put together a business plan to create the position of Professional Development Consultant. The position grew to the point that Tierney began offering training not just to customers, but to competitors as a “white label” product.
As time progressed, digital signage technology came into its own, and Kyleen discovered that she had an affinity for it. Tierney offered her the flexibility to focus on that area, and she became Director of Digital Signage, creating an entirely new department within the company where she could use her skills and experience to build solutions for customers. Along the way, Kyleen earned her CTS (Certified Technology Specialist) certification.
She also volunteers with AVIXA Council, co-leads the Career Empowerment Alliance Group, and in 2018 was named by Commercial Integrator to its “40 Under 40” list of business leaders.
Kyleen Donahue’s Career Path
Industry Sector Job Titles Integrator Receptionist Integrator Systems Integration Coordinator Integrator Technical Services Coordinator Integrator Technical Services Manager Integrator Professional Development Consultant Integrator Director of Digital Signage Industry Sector Job Titles Integrator Manufacturer Media Industry Association End-User Customer Receptionist Systems Integration Coordinator Technical Services Coordinator Technical Services Manager Professional Development Consultant Director of Digital Signage
Derek DerksLegrand AV BrandsSee Career Path
Derek DerksLegrand AV BrandsIndustry Experience: 17 yearsGrowing with the Industry"I’m the prototypical AV geek, and for me this industry aligns directly with things I have a great interest in. And especially with the smart phone revolution, the whole space is exploding. The technology we work with permeates people’s lives."
Derek entered the industry as a Design Engineer at Chief Manufacturing (later renamed Milestone AV Technologies, now a part of Legrand AV), where he co-developed a line of LCD monitor desk, wall and ceiling mounts for the workstation and AV contractor markets. From there, he was promoted to Product Manager, a position that was all about trying to identify trends, develop new products, manage product life cycles, craft marketing messaging, and manage product positioning within markets – “pretty much everything to do with shepherding and growing a product line within a given industry,” says Derek.
Next he moved into business development and focused on long-term planning, building out 3 and 5-year strategy roadmaps for how to grow as an organization. He also led a core team for the Daylight brand as a senior sales and engineering leader. In this capacity he developed and executed on a strategy for the simulation market (used in pilot training, oil and gas exploration and more), focusing on customer experience, digital experience, design thinking, and much more.
Then Derek took a role as Director of Customer Care for one of the company’s offices in Minnesota. Today, as VP of Customer Care, Derek works with three support offices in North America and the company’s European office to develop best practices in creating exceptional customer experiences.
Derek Derks’s Career Path
Industry Sector Job Titles Manufacturer Design Engineer Manufacturer Project Manager Manufacturer Business Development Manager Manufacturer Director of Customer Care Manufacturer Sr. Director of Customer Care Manufacturer VP – Customer Care Industry Sector Job Titles Manufacturer Media Integrator Industry Association End-User Customer Design Engineer Project Manager Business Development Manager Director of Customer Care Sr. Director of Customer Care VP – Customer Care
Steve EmspakShen Milsom & Wilke, LLCSee Career Path
Steve EmspakShen Milsom & Wilke, LLCIndustry Experience: 46 yearsAn Industry Pioneer"There are no dull moments in this industry. Every day you have the opportunity to make life better for people by giving them collaborative tools to work better, faster and smarter."
We should all have as awesome a first job as Steve Emspak.
“After earning an Associate degree in electronics, I got hired by GLI, probably the first company dedicated to manufacturing disco equipment, first for clubs and later in roller rinks,” says Steve.
After ten years, he was lured away by a cutting-edge company called USATCO, a manufacturer of video projectors that pushed the boundaries of what was technologically possible at the time. Leveraging his experience in audio and video, Steve next moved to an audiovisual integrator by the name of Barsky & Associates as Vice President of Operations. “The projects we worked on were phenomenal,” he says. A standout among them: the AT&T network operations center, which in 1986 was the first installation of video projectors in a data application in a 24/7 environment.
One of his clients at Barsky was a consulting firm called Shen Milsom & Associates (later renamed Shen Milsom & Wilke), which in 1988 hired Steve as an Associate. He was the company’s ninth employee. Today, as Partner, he helps oversee a staff of 250 at a pioneering, global consulting firm whose expertise extends from acoustics, AV/multimedia and IT, to physical security and medical equipment planning. At SM&W, Steve focuses on the conceptualization and team management of complex projects including command and control, emergency operations, and network operations centers.
He’s also a member of the International Communications Industries Association (AVIXA) and NSCA, where he holds a position on the Education Foundation’s Board of Directors.
Steve Emspak’s Career Path
Industry Sector Job Titles Manufacturer Engineer Manufacturer Sales Manager Integrator VP, Operation Consultant Firm Associate Consultant Firm Partner Industry Sector Job Titles Manufacturer Integrator Consultant Firm Media Industry Association Engineer Sales Manager VP, Operation Associate Partner
Brian Van Der HagenAVI Systems, Inc.See Career Path
Brian Van Der HagenAVI Systems, Inc.Industry Experience: 28 yearsA Path to Leadership"If you’re worried about doing the same thing every day, Communications Technology is for you because there’s always something new coming up. It never, ever gets boring."
Fresh out of college, Brian had no particular interest in the AV industry; he just needed a job. And he found one at a Minneapolis-based integrator called Blumberg Communications, first as an Inside Sales Specialist and subsequently in Outside Sales, selling audiovisual systems to clients in the downtown business district.
After two years, Brian moved into Systems Sales, selling integrated systems for conference, training and board rooms. It was at this point that Brian committed himself to the industry. “I decided I liked the tech, I liked the people, I liked solving problems,” he explains.
Around that time, Brian also decided that he needed to enhance his technical knowledge, so he took the position of Technical Services Manager at AVI Systems, managing engineers, programmers, installers and the service department.
“After getting a sense of how AVI worked, I wanted to see how other companies functioned, so I went to work for an independent rep company called Visitec as a Regional Sales Manager, covering multiple states and representing a range of projects.”
Coming out of Visitec, Brian moved to a manufacturer called AMX, where he immersed himself in direct sales and then worked in a more consultative capacity for large corporate enterprises. After a stint at RTI Corporation as General Manager of Commercial Sales, Brian returned to Visitec as Senior Manager of Collaboration Sales.
Three years later, he returned to AVI as its Learning and Development Manager, charged with retooling the company’s sales structure. Today, Brian is an Area Vice President for AVI. “I’d always wanted to run my own company or business,” he says, “and today I’m running an industry leader’s largest and most profitable division.”
Brian Van Der Hagen’s Career Path
Industry Sector Job Titles Integrator Inside Sales Specialist Integrator Outside Sales Specialist Integrator Systems Sales Integrator Technical Services Manager Independent Rep Regional Sales Manager Manufacturer Regional Sales Manager Manufacturer Director, Strategic Sales Manufacturer General Manager, Commercial Sales Independent Rep Senior Manager, Collaboration Sales Independent Rep Business Development Manager Manufacturer Manager of Training and Development Manufacturer Area Vice President Industry Sector Job Titles Integrator Independent Rep Manufacturer Media Industry Association Inside Sales Specialist Outside Sales Specialist Systems Sales Technical Services Manager Regional Sales Manager Regional Sales Manager Director, Strategic Sales General Manager, Commercial Sales Senior Manager, Collaboration Sales Business Development Manager Manager of Training and Development Area Vice President
Joe PerezClearTech MediaSee Career Path
Joe PerezClearTech MediaIndustry Experience: 24 yearsFrom Apple to Outer Space"This isn’t just a growing industry, it’s one that offers hundreds of different opportunities – and not just in technology. I would encourage anyone to investigate it because you can choose practically any career path you like. And it’s always changing."
Getting hired as an Integration Technician by IWERKS ENTERTAINMENT (now called SimEx-Iwerks Entertainment) marked the beginning of a fascinating – and pioneering – career for Joe Perez.
“IWERKS was the company responsible for the ultimate 3D Simulation Ride Experience,” says Joe, “and it was there that I discovered my passion for technology – assembling, integrating, testing and calibrating a wide variety of cutting-edge systems.”
Next Joe moved to MCSi as an Installation and Project Manager, serving as many as 20 clients at a time. Perhaps the most noteworthy of them: Apple Computer, whose secret NEXXUS Project, housed in a hidden Silicon Valley warehouse, gave Joe the opportunity to help develop the company’s first retail store.
That project and several subsequent ones marked a “watershed” career change for him. “I have been so fortunate to have been able to work on very high-profile installations like the USAF’s Western Range Operations Control Center, where I co-designed and led the installation of a fully automated AV Control system used in the control center that launches space rockets.” While at Hoffman, Joe also oversaw design, installation and project management of several new venues within the sprawling hilltop Getty Villa Museum. Concurrent with that: the installation of AV technology at the 10,258-seat Galen Center sports arena at USC.
Eventually, Joe left Hoffman to start his own AV consulting business, AV Logic, but in the wake of the 2008 Great Recession, he put his own venture on hiatus and accepted the position of Director of Technical Services for Anderson Audiovisual, which had just acquired Hoffman.
One of his customers was ClearTech Media, which later offered Joe the position of Director of Technical Services. Today, as Partner and Chief Technology Officer at ClearTech, he collaborates with clients on an entirely new generation of groundbreaking technology projects – including the development of new conference room standards for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Joe Perez’s Career Path
Industry Sector Job Titles Integrator Installation Technician Integrator Installation Manager / Project Manager Integrator Project Manager / Director of Technical Services Consultant Firm Principal – AV Consultant / Designer Integrator Director of Technical Services Integrator Chief Technology Officer Industry Sector Job Titles Integrator Consultant Firm Manufacturer Media Industry Association Installation Technician Installation Manager / Project Manager Project Manager / Director of Technical Services Principal – AV Consultant / Designer Director of Technical Services Chief Technology Officer
Dawn MeadeNorthrop GrummanSee Career Path
Dawn MeadeNorthrop GrummanIndustry Experience: 22 yearsPlaying with Big Kid Toys"I just adore this industry. It’s interesting, technologically challenging and at the center of communication – and you get paid to play with big-kid toys."
Think you need to be a computer science or engineering major to enter this industry? Dawn double majored in English and Dance.
After a short-term stint at an ad agency where she learned how to write HTML, Dawn did freelance web work at a firm called Advanced Video Systems. Wowed by the technology, she applied for an opening in sales, got the job, then steadily advanced to the point where she became Director of Marketing and a part owner – all in less than ten years. During this time, she also earned her MBA and a Master of Science degree in Technology Management, as well as her Certified Technology Specialist credential.
Next Dawn moved to another integrator called Net-AV, where she served as Director of Marketing, working closely with the chief of sales. After leaving Net-AV, she worked for a short time at a visual solutions/digital signage company called Gable, and subsequently joined Northrup Grumman, where as a Senior AV Architect and Project Manager for its Mission Systems sector, she designs and specs projects around the world.
Along the way, Dawn has maintained her own industry blog, AVDAWN.com. She also blogs and hosts a podcast for AVNation.tv, and writes for industry publications, including System Contractors News.
Dawn Meade’s Career Path
Industry Sector Job Titles Integrator Freelance Web Designer Integrator Sales Representative Integrator Director of Marketing Integrator Director of Marketing Integrator Communications Manager End-User Customer Senior AV Architect / Project Manager – Mission Systems Industry Sector Job Titles Integrator End-User Customer Manufacturer Media Industry Association Freelance Web Designer Sales Representative Director of Marketing Director of Marketing Communications Manager Senior AV Architect / Project Manager – Mission Systems
Tim AlbrightAVNation Media, Inc.See Career Path
Tim AlbrightAVNation Media, Inc.Industry Experience: 13 yearsA Communications Technology Thought Leader"Our industry is at the intersection of art and science, creating some of the coolest experiences anywhere. Moreover, constant change makes it a truly exciting career choice."
After a career in broadcasting, Tim entered the Communications Technology industry as a TV Engineer at Lewis & Clark Community College. Before long, he became Manager of Media Electronics, responsible for AV at all the school’s campuses. “I was an AV designer, engineer, installer and control systems programmer,” says Tim.
Next he became a Control Programmer, Design/Engineer at Missouri-based Modern Communications, where he worked as the primary programmer for Crestron products, and was also a DSP programmer, design/engineer, and system commissioning expert. Leveraging that experience, he moved to an independent programming and design/consulting firm called Innovad, where he served as Director of Operations.
Parallel to this, Tim started AVNation TV, a volunteer effort that created high quality broadcasts for the Communications Technology industry. “AVNation began as a weekly news digest, but grew to a point where it needed all my attention, so I left Innovad and devoted myself full-time to the venture.”
Today AVNation, with Tim Albright at the helm as President, enables industry professionals to share firsthand knowledge with their colleagues and customers across North America and the world.
Tim Albright’s Career Path
Industry Sector Job Titles Media TV/Radio producer and on-air personality End-User Customer Manager, Media Electronics Integrator Control Programmer, Design/Engineer Consultant Firm Director of Operations Media President Industry Sector Job Titles Media End-User Customer Integrator Consultant Firm Manufacturer TV/Radio producer and on-air personality Manager, Media Electronics Control Programmer, Design/Engineer Director of Operations President
Leanne SutcliffeTierney Brothers, Inc.See Career Path
Leanne SutcliffeTierney Brothers, Inc.Industry Experience: 7 yearsMastering the Education Market"This industry has a great culture, with a work-hard-play-hard mentality that’s really rewarding. And because the technology is always evolving, this is a field where it’s never the same day over and over."
While still a college student, Leanne entered the Communications Technology industry as a marketing intern at Vaddio, a Minnesota-based manufacturer of PTZ cameras and peripherals.
When an Order Entry position opened up in Vaddio’s sales department, she seized the opportunity, which soon developed into an Inside Sales role involving order processing, providing quotes and pricing, and helping outside sales reps at industry trade shows among a host of other activities. While amassing experience, she also gained her CTS industry certification.
One of Vaddio’s customers was Tierney, a provider of interactive technology solutions clients used to address their business and educational issues. They offered her a position as a Purchasing Agent in Tierney’s educational equipment sector. After three years in that role, Leanne wanted to get back into sales; and by that point, she had an ideal background to become a K-12 Account Executive.
“It’s my dream job,” she says. “I love working with the end users. I know all the vendors. And I learn something new every day.” Better yet, Leanne is still at the dawn of her career in an industry that’s growing by the day.
Leanne Sutcliffe’s Career Path
Industry Sector Job Titles Manufacturer Marketing Intern Manufacturer Order Entry Integrator Inside Sales Integrator Purchasing Agent Integrator K-12 Account Executive Industry Sector Job Titles Manufacturer Integrator Media Industry Association End-User Customer Marketing Intern Order Entry Inside Sales Purchasing Agent K-12 Account Executive
Tony CouzelisHarman ProfessionalSee Career Path
Tony CouzelisHarman ProfessionalIndustry Experience: 25 yearsTechnology, Expressed Creatively."I love this industry because it’s so relevant. Every day people see, touch, and feel the work we do. It’s not obscure; everyone can relate to it in one respect or another."
Entering the industry immediately after earning his BS in Electrical Engineering, Tony spent the first years of his career designing circuit boards at AMX Corporation, a manufacturer of high-end touchscreen controllers for a multitude of installations.
Immersing himself in various types of hardware design and picking up more specific skills – like radio frequency technology for wireless – along the way, he rose through the ranks and subsequently moved into a managerial role. Tony supervised three employees initially, then led larger teams when he started up AMX’s Sustaining Engineering Group – a division that focused on how to improve on existing products by enhancing their features and performance.
Next he moved to a general management engineering role, supervising not just electrical engineers, but mechanical and software engineers as well. Discovering that he enjoyed interacting with larger groups, Tony began spending more time in the field, providing technical help at trade shows and other events, and this work morphed into an opportunity within the marketing division, which needed a technically skilled person as a liaison to engineering.
Leveraging not just his technical and communication skills but also his creative side, Tony began to focus on the event side of the business – designing, installing and operating technology that showcased the company’s products to dramatic effect. Today, as Senior Manager of Events and Installations, Tony not only oversees trade shows, but designs showrooms, experience centers and other permanent installations around the world.
Tony Couzelis’s Career Path
Industry Sector Job Titles Manufacturer Electrical Engineer Manufacturer Electrical Engineering Manager Manufacturer Director, Product Engineering Manufacturer Director, Market Engineering Manufacturer Senior Manager, Events & Installations Industry Sector Job Titles Manufacturer Media Integrator Industry Association End-User Customer Electrical Engineer Electrical Engineering Manager Director, Product Engineering Director, Market Engineering Senior Manager, Events & Installations
Stephanie JohnsonVaddioSee Career Path
Stephanie JohnsonVaddioIndustry Experience: 5 yearsSucceeding From Scratch"What I love about this field is how much you can do within it. It’s easy to gravitate toward an aspect of the field that excites you, and to explore new areas as trends and technologies develop."
After beginning her working life as a chef, Stephanie was ready for a new challenge, so she leveraged her people skills, love of technology and problem-solving acumen to become a Tech Support specialist at Vaddio, a Minnesota-based manufacturer of pan-tilt-zoom cameras and peripherals.
The experience and CTS industry certification she gained propelled her to a Level 2 Tech Support position. Tech workers with growth potential at Vaddio often find their next position in Applications Engineering, which offers an elevated level of support.
From there, Stephanie charted her own course. Identifying a need for a more systemized approach to training, she became Vaddio’s Applications Engineer-Training Coordinator, enhancing her employer’s ability to meet customer needs while helping coworkers advance in their careers.
Stephanie Johnson’s Career Path
Industry Sector Job Titles Manufacturer Tech Support Manufacturer Tech Support Level 2 Manufacturer Applications Engineer – Training Coordinator Industry Sector Job Titles Manufacturer Media Integrator Industry Association End-User Customer Tech Support Tech Support Level 2 Applications Engineer – Training Coordinator
Kelly PerkinsNSCA Education FoundationSee Career Path
Kelly PerkinsNSCA Education FoundationIndustry Experience: 11 yearsAn Education Leader"Two things I love about this field: The technology is super cool, and the people are great. They really like what they do, and all that positive energy gives the industry a great vibe."
It was the height of the recession. Kelly needed a job. A Minnesota-based camera manufacturer by the name of Vaddio was hiring. And a match was made.
“Vaddio basically needed someone to help with trade shows,” says Kelly, “and it turned out that I came aboard at a great time because the company was on a growth streak.” As Vaddio grew, so did Kelly’s responsibilities. Rising from specialist to management, she oversaw global product and brand marketing/communications, trade shows and internal/external events, and media/public relations, as well as research/analysis, annual budgets and creative development for marketing. She also earned her Certified Technology Specialist (CTS) certification.
When Vaddio was sold, Kelly took a position with one of its customers, AVI Systems. Running its marketing department, she helped shepherd the company to become the nation’s fourth-largest AV integrator. Along the way, she participated in a number of industry initiatives, and subsequently decided to devote herself full-time to raising awareness about career opportunities in Communications Technology.
Today as NSCA Education Foundation Program Director, she’s responsible for the development, direction and implementation of strategic initiatives including a variety of scholarship, educational and research programs.
Kelly Perkins’s Career Path
Industry Sector Job Titles Manufacturer Marketing Communications Specialist Manufacturer Marketing Communications Manager Integrator Marketing & Communications Director Industry Association Program Director Industry Sector Job Titles Manufacturer Integrator Industry Association Media End-User Customer Marketing Communications Specialist Marketing Communications Manager Marketing & Communications Director Program Director
Megan A. DuttaSystems Contractor NewsSee Career Path
Megan A. DuttaSystems Contractor NewsIndustry Experience: 13 yearsA Passion for the Audiovisual Industry"As you advance in your career, you’ll find that the people in this industry are tremendously supportive. They lift as they climb."
Megan had been working for a real estate association when she saw an ad for a position at Peerless-AV, a Chicago-area communications solutions provider. Ironically, one of the things that attracted her attention was the company’s proximity to where she lived – because soon they had her traveling across the globe, first as a Trade Show Coordinator, then as Tradeshow & Events Manager.
Along the way, Megan saw plenty of opportunities to expand her responsibilities. Twitter and Facebook were just beginning to become staples of marketing, so she tackled those platforms for Peerless-AV. She also handled PR and advertising, and initiated an innovative program to promote senior company officials as industry thought leaders. Eventually she came to run the marketing department.
After 11 years, however, Megan was ready for new challenges, so when she learned that the influential industry trade publication, Systems Contractor News, needed a new editor, she applied for the position. Today, as Content Director for SCN, Megan has become a respected industry thought leader in her own right.
Megan A. Dutta’s Career Path
Industry Sector Job Titles Manufacturer Tradeshow Coordinator Manufacturer Tradeshow & Events Manager Manufacturer Marketing Communications Project Manager Manufacturer Marketing Communications Manager Media Editor Media Content Director Industry Sector Job Titles Manufacturer Media Integrator Industry Association End-User Customer Tradeshow Coordinator Tradeshow & Events Manager Marketing Communications Project Manager Marketing Communications Manager Editor Content Director
Start Here, Go Anyplace
Great salaries, benefits and opportunities are just part of what make this industry awesome. Even better, you don’t need specialized skills and experience to get started. That’s because you’re in the driver’s seat – and Ignite is your on-ramp.
Sparking Careers at Legrand
The Ignite team visited the Legrand AV intern crew in Minneapolis, MN. Listen to Reid Dahl and Page Stanberry talk about why they love working for a Communications Technology manufacturer.