Each week, I am highlighting on some of the incredible people who are in the Audio Video Industry. As this blog is mostly about AV insiders, today we are profiling Jason McGraw.
Here is a brief intro about him.
Jason McGraw has worked in the audiovisual industry for over 20 years. He is currently working as senior vice president of expositions at InfoComm International.
Please drop your questions in the comments below and I will make sure that he sees them.
1. Describe your journey in the AV industry? How did it start?
All through high school I was involved in theater doing sound, lights, building sets, acting and singing. I sang and played guitar in my church folk group. I also developed a passion for photography, which I still enjoy today. In college, I was in a few bands, had a sound system and mixed and recorded live shows for many local bands in Fairfax, Va. around George Mason University where I went to school. My good friends in emmet swimming were signed by Sony/Epic and I mixed many of their shows back in the early ’90s. I’ve always loved live entertainment and technology; I consider myself somewhat of a geek. I like fixing and setting up computers and AV systems; I volunteer at my kids’ high school theater to occasionally help them troubleshoot AV issues. It was only natural for me to be drawn to working in the AV industry when I first joined InfoComm in 1990.
2. What do you think are the challenges facing a new person who wants to join the industry?
The technology landscape keeps changing and it’s challenging to keep abreast of the latest and greatest products and solutions from our industry manufacturers. Fortunately, I think most younger professionals are quite IT savvy these days and can easily adapt. It’s also clear that our industry is shifting from hardware based systems to hybrid systems today that increasingly incorporate software and cloud based solutions. Having knowledge of networks and programming are becoming essential for the AV workforce. I also believe that creative individuals are also playing an increasingly important role in the industry as the need for content is growing exponentially. Joining InfoComm and attending our events is a great way for young professionals to gain the knowledge they need and networking opportunities to accelerate their careers.
3. What are the positives of working in this industry?
We live in the most exciting times in human history! AV technologies are essential in nearly all facets of our daily lives. There is so much opportunity and potential for AV solutions to entertain, inform, influence and enrich the human experience. We are a rapidly expanding global industry with seemingly unlimited potential. Besides our tech is cool! Our industry makes magical experiences a reality every day. Who wouldn’t want to be involved!?!
4. What in your opinion would you change in the industry? What are the negatives that are prevalent?
I would like to see more interoperability of products, platforms and systems that will allow more flexibility in designing solutions, increasing customer satisfaction and efficiency. Separately, you hear stories all the time about poor quality installations that can negatively affect customers’ experiences and the public’s perception of our industry. The knowledge, training and standards are available to correct many of these deficiencies; I’d like to see more firms follow the lead of our APEX member companies who have demonstrated a commitment to training their personnel, performing quality work and adhering to InfoComm’s ANSI/ISO standards.
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5. If you were going to start over, what would you do differently?
Gosh, when I was growing up, personal computers were barely in their infancy, cell phones didn’t exist and no one had even heard of the Internet. And I’m only 50 years old. Had I known then what we experience today, I should have learned more about software programming and kept up with it. Or I should have stuck to my long hair, mustache and snakeskin cowboy boots from the ’80s and hit the road in a rock band. But honestly, I love what I do managing trade shows and I’ve been so fortunate to work in such a dynamic industry. I’ve traveled the world, seen amazing things and met and worked with terrific people. What more could I ask for? I don’t think I would have changed much, it’s been a great ride so far!
6. Describe a typical work day for you. What are your daily disciplines?
I think of each day as a new opportunity to make progress towards goals and making a difference. Sometimes its small things, sometimes its big – but moving the needle is important for me. I often feel like I’m racing against the clock; time is not limitless. We all have deadlines and working on the June show where the dates are set in stone is a prime example. I spend a fair amount of time in meetings working with my colleagues here at InfoComm planning our next show or the shows we’ll do years from now. I like to laugh and keep things light. Starting my day with a Diet Coke is essential. Getting a call from my wife at each day at 4:00 p.m. asking when I’ll be home and if I can pick up our kids from dance or taekwondo is a welcomed distraction.
7. Describe the apps and gear that you use daily which makes you more productive?
Listening to Fox Business News on my Sirius XM radio in my car on the way to work. My iPhone 6s Plus (looking forward to getting the next iPhone (8 or 10, whatever they’ll call it) that has a bigger screen since I can’t read anything up close without cheaters. My Dell laptop (time for a new one). Microsoft Office and Outlook. Getting up to speed on SharePoint, WebEx and using Skype for Business more.
8. How do you stay relevant in this industry?
I regularly read every rAVe publication! (Shameless plug for Gary, Sara and the entire rAVe team!) I spend time speaking with our members, exhibitors and industry partners on a daily basis. I read a lot each day online and in print (in addition to rAVe, I get nearly every trade industry pub and newsletter out there) to keep abreast of what’s happening in our industry, the economy and the world that may affect our events or will help us take things to the next level. I learned a long time ago that things change quickly and what you did last time is nice, but not necessarily what’s going to work next. You need to be flexible and keep pushing forward.