Consulting-Specifying Engineer has announced the recipients of the 2017 40 Under 40 award. This award is given to 40 nonresidential building industry professionals age 40 and younger who stand out in a variety of personal and professional aspects in their lives.
TEECOM nominated Josh Srago for the CSE 40 Under 40 Award because of his demonstrated commitment to professional and community involvement. Like any good advocate, Josh has strong opinions about topics affecting the audiovisual design industry. He participates in industry organizations and events not only because he loves a good debate, but because he deeply and honestly cares about where the industry is headed.
The day the awards were announced, we sat down with Josh to learn more about his path to AV advocacy.
One of the things we learn about you in your 40 Under 40 profile is that you came to AV design through an unconventional route. Can you tell us a little about that and talk about the advantages and disadvantages of a non-traditional career path?
To a certain extent I came through a traditional route in that I, like many AV industry professionals, am a failed musician who has maintained doing it as a hobby.
But from a non-traditional route perspective: most people will go work for an integration firm, or some people will graduate from college with an electrical engineering degree and then they will move their way into the AV realm. I actually started with a manufacturer, after having run a facility for corporate AV. I just happened to get in at the facility when they were doing updates, so I was responsible for doing the design work, and that led me to find out about the opportunities in AV design. Working for the manufacturer gave me an opportunity to get a global perspective. The United States is a very interesting market in that respect, because it’s regional. Business in the northeast is run very differently than the Pacific Northwest, which is very different than Texas, which is different than California.
That experience gave me a broader view of the industry, which led me to want to learn how the execution worked. I went to work for an integrator for a while, and then came to consulting. So I took a much more circuitous path to get to the actual engineering at the scale that I do it now.
The good aspect is that I’m able to see the client’s perspective, the manufacturer’s perspective, the integrator’s perspective, and now the consultant’s perspective. So I can make the argument from every side of the table as to what is beneficial to the client in the long run. I understand how to prepare a manufacturer for a project and I understand what information is necessary for the integrators to execute efficiently, having been on all sides of that.
I know a lot of people who have done amazing work for their companies but sometimes they forget there are other players in the game and they lose perspective on the effects their decisions or their choices or actions have on those other people. It’s a much more painstaking process to go the route I went. I’ve never found it to be a negative thing. I’ve never found having more information about how the business works to be anything but beneficial.
You are passionate about certification in the industry, and have served on InfoComm’s international certification steering committee. Why is this area important to you and for the industry?
Certification is vital to the ongoing development and improving of quality. If there isn’t standardization of knowledge from a baseline perspective we cannot continue to drive successful projects and we cannot continue to innovate because everybody will be taking too many liberties based on their opinion of how it should be. Those are welcome in the AV industry, because it’s a creative industry, but we need to have a foundation of knowledge to start before you can improvise. Certification and standards are where that begins.
What advice do you have for people just starting out in the AV design industry?
Experience as much as you can. This industry is in a very precarious position as it searches for a new identity right now. The people that have held this industry up over the last 40 years and kept it to a high standard are beginning to retire and the number of people in the industry to step in and fill their shoes is not equal to those that are leaving. So we have a lot of opportunity right now for new ideas, creative ideas, but that requires a youthful audience that sees the opportunities for AV to become what it’s intended to be over the next five to ten years.
If you could be the star in any musical theater production ever, in history, what role would be your choice?
There’s always going to be a soft spot in my heart for the role of Javert in Les Miserables. He’s the villain, but still it’s always been one of my favorite characters… except for how it was butchered in the movie. But in this day and age, if you’d take what’s come up in the last two years with the resurgence in musical theater, I’d relish the opportunity to play George Washington in Hamilton. Or really any lead role in Hamilton. Each one has its own quirks and brilliance.
Congratulate Josh via the contact buttons on his TEECOM People Page.