TEECOM’s latest addition to our Audiovisual Design team, Josh Srago, shares his experience on his journey of how he ended up at TEECOM. You can read more of his work at his website www.soundreason.org, AVNation, Commercial Integrator magazine, or InfoComm All Voices. Josh will also be presenting at this year’s InfoComm Connections event in San Jose, CA.
Ascending the Ivory Tower
I have been told that my career path in the audiovisual industry was a bit of a strange one. Starting as an onsite technician for venues, working for a manufacturer where I spent four years as the consultant liaison and training manager, a few years doing engineering for an integration firm, and now, as a dear friend so affectionately put it, “sitting in the ivory tower,” having recently joined TEECOM, a technological engineering and consulting group. It was a less traditional path for this industry but was ultimately one that I chose at every turn.
I’ve written several times about the brilliant minds that lead the way in the AV industry. Often, but not always, these professionals are found in consulting offices. During my four year stint traversing the continent and logging hundreds of thousands of air miles visiting these groups of individuals I learned that there is an endless variety of how the groups designing some of the most complex technology solutions around the world operate and run. The key takeaway being that while the end results might be similar not all consulting groups are the same.
There are no two identical consulting offices, even ones that brandish the same name on the door. Disciplines can range from specific types of audiovisual environments like corporate, higher education, or healthcare to house of worship, theatrical, or other large entertainment venues. Service offerings can be specific to audiovisual technology or include groups for security, telecommunication services, wireless network design, and acoustics that all partner together to offer the architect or client a one-stop shop for all their technological engineering needs. But the disparity between all the companies out there extends far beyond their service offerings.
One Key Advantage
Getting to spend as much time as I did with as many different consultants and designing integrators gave me one key advantage as I looked to the future of my career – I got to witness the variety of models, as well as how the individuals interacted with each other and their partners. In some cases it may have been merely an hour of time to never return again while other groups welcomed me back regularly to talk projects, products, and theoretical examples.
That sampling of time, however brief, was a demonstration of the company culture and the individuals that created it. I faced the stereotype of the overbearing, know-it-all consultant more than once and saw the way that co-workers reacted to that environment. I also saw groups like TEECOM where there was no deferring to a key individual to be the voice of the group because all voices, questions, and interactions were seen equally and to the benefit of the group.
When it came time for me to look at my next career step after the position with the manufacturer my first phone call was to the AV group lead at TEECOM. I knew three years before actually getting hired by TEECOM that I wanted to be a part of this team. The open dialogue and willingness to see the variety of options that exist and discuss all the opportunities regardless of industry longevity was the ultimate draw for me.
Joining the TEECOM Team
Three years later, when TEECOM reached the point of needing to add a new AV engineer to their team my phone rang inquiring if I’d be interested in that same opportunity I sought previously. I didn’t know how closely my perceptions of the organization turned out to match the reality. The leadership in the groups exists to keep people on task and assignments distributed, but the individual professional development opportunities are unlike anything I’ve experienced to date with in house mentoring, paid training throughout the year, and an open mind to participating in industry activities.
Within the organization there are ongoing chances to learn from the experience of long term industry veterans, not only in my own discipline, but also in how it interacts with the other disciplines. The advantage of working with others across knowledge bases only means the ability to bring more technology together in the design phase resulting in a cohesive solution for the end users. The same applies to personal interest in training with each individual encouraged to expand their knowledge base through assigned projects, incentivized certifications, and in house training.
Personal and Professional Growth
Every job that I’ve set foot in over the course of my career has been a path to personal and professional growth. I never know what’s coming next in my career. I gave up on planning exactly where I wanted to be in 1, 5, or 10 years because I never knew what opportunities were going to present themselves that I may never have considered. I just started to take each chance as it came and experience it for what it was. It didn’t have to be permanent, but there had to be a take away from the opportunity.
Now I find myself having ascended to a position that is often considered to be the upper echelon in the audiovisual industry, the so-called ivory tower – for better or worse – where I’m encouraged to think outside the box, develop myself, work with others to aid in their development, and to objectively discuss and debate the technology and its potential. I won’t deny that the kind of environment that encourages this activity exists in several places, but I will certainly say that it’s much harder to find it than you might think.