BUSINESS ANALYSIS: Q&A
BUSINESS ANALYSIS: Q&A
Will IT and networked AV talent bolster Asia’s industry growth?
The pro AV industry has been earmarked to grow to US$230 billion come 2030, with Asia commanding the lion’s share, according to an AVIXA report. We caught up with Bardy Hayes, principal consultant at AVL 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 AVL 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.
AND, WHAT ABOUT IN APAC MORE SPECIFICALLY?
Any gap in technological understanding and experience that may have existed between Asia and the West has disappeared. While the excellent standardisation and certification work that organisations like AVIXA has done is growing quickly in Asia, there seems to be a real shortage of CTS-certified technical/sales and management people. In terms of hotspots for AV talent, they are central SE Asia (Singapore, specifically), Mainland China and Japan.
Our recent emphasis on Asia so far is showing higher engagement from large audio and broadcast tech companies, but lighting talent search is also growing now. Since our history has been more audio-oriented, we haven’t seen as much interest from the video side, but we are confident of that changing.
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 AVL 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 IN APAC?
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.
WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES OF HIRING FOR A PRO AVL ROLE IN APAC, FROM A COMPANY’S PERSPECTIVE?
The difficult bit is not the type of role, but the scope of any regional role. I would venture to say that the differences between most countries throughout Asia is far more pronounced than between European countries. So, to find talent that is experienced, comfortable and connected in let’s say Indonesia, Japan, China and New Zealand is tough. Even just Korea and Japan – two countries that are so close geographically but so different socially and in world view.
The biggest challenge for AV corporations is culture. As Asia continues to grow in prosperity, status and influence, the days of local markets needing to adapt to western styles is on the wane and there is an increasing push back against companies that insist on behaving and doing business the way they do in the West. Now I am not referring to basic processes and best practices, nor of course ethics. I am speaking about good old human interaction. If an AV organisation outside APAC wants to maximise its success in Asia, they should consider adapting and assimilating into the ways of interacting, communicating, relating and doing business locally. Better understanding, more respect and being quick to listen are some of the areas we need to improve.