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 Paul Konikowski .
Here is a brief intro about him.
Paul Konikowski has worked in the Audiovisual industry for over 10 years. He is currently working as Design Engineering Manager.
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?
I started doing IT support as a co-op job in high school and college. By the time I graduated from Georgia Tech, I was more interested in music than computers, so I got a part time job working for a local professional sound reinforcement company. I worked a lot of local jazz festivals, graduation ceremonies, symphony concerts, and rock shows. After a few years of working at live events,I moved into the world of AV installation, first as a technician, and then as an associate engineer. In 2007, I moved from Connecticut to the San Francisco Bay, area where I have worked as an engineer, consultant, technical marketer, and multimedia solutions architect. I was recently hired as the Design Engineering Manager by PCD, an integration firm in Santa Rosa, CA.
2.What do you think are the challenges that are facing a new person who wants to join the industry.
I think the biggest challenge is that there are few ways to gain experience without being thrown into the fire, so to speak. Infocomm certifications certainly help fill the knowledge gaps but there are not many colleges teaching the real world skills needed to complete the job. You have to have the ambition to put yourself into the proper training, the courage to get out of your comfort zone, and knowledge of when to ask for help. And as Daniel Newman wrote in one of my all time favorite blog posts, “you can’t teach give a shit”
3.What are the positives of working in this industry
Unlimited tweekers? It’s certainty not a boring industry, each project is different and you are constantly being faced with new challenges. There are plenty of interesting people and products so there is never a dull moment. The positivity comes from the people, not the gear. There is a certain competitive camaraderie with other #AVtweeps in the industry.
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4.What in your opinion would you change in the industry? What are the negatives that are prevalent ?
The biggest problem with the AV industry in my opinion is the lack of internal training. Manufacturers do their best to educate, but let’s be honest, those training sessions are usually pretty painful to sit through. Plus they only teach you about one brand or product line. Infocomm has come a long way in terms of training materials, but consultation andintegration firms are reluctant to spend the money on training. They see travel and training as an expense they can avoid, instead of an investment in their future. There should be mandatory training hours per year for all employees, both internal cross training, and external classes. Employees should be rewarded with pay increases for attending the classes and passing the tests. Annual reviews and raises should actually happen annually; far too often the employer ignores the anniversary dates, and doesn’t give a proper review.
5.Describe your ideal client? What do you wish clients to know before hiring you.
I find the ideal clients to work with are those with experience in construction projects, because they already understand the work flow, budgets, and project team, and they know how to work through proper channels when it comes to change orders, RFIs (Request For Information), ASIs (Architects Supplemental Instructions), or submittals. The easiest clients to work with tend to be large-scale developers, general contractors, electricians, or owners reps that understand lead times and logistics. The more unpredictable clients tend to be on smaller jobs, private schools or houses of worship, where the owner, music leader or IT support person is suddenly tasked with cost estimating and construction project management. Many people who are new to the industry have unrealistic schedules that cause unneeded havoc. It is important to set proper expectations and milestone dates, including time and budget for the inevitable changes along the way. If this is your first project, consider hiring an audiovisual consultant to help guide you through the process.
6.If you were going to start over, what would you do differently ?
I would become a demolition crane operator, marry a wealthy, older woman, and trade oil futures. But seriously, I am pretty happy with my job experience, and I wouldn’t change much; maybe rewrite a couple emails that could have been worded better, or take back a few things I said in haste. Anyone whom I have worked with knows I often “lack tact”. #guilty #workingonit
7.Describe a typical work day for you. What are your daily disciplines?
Ideally, I start my day with a cup of coffee, a half of a cucumber, reading, prayer, yoga, and mindful mediation. I find if I start my day doing all of those things, I usually have a great day, no matter what I am doing. But most days I can’t find the time to complete this morning “routine” before heading into the office. Once there, I try to work an hour at a time, only checking emails and placing calls during the first hour, at lunch, and the last hour of the day. This keeps the other six hours dedicated to meetings and actual work. Some days I travel to job sites to meet with prospective clients, or to check the infrastructure on a project. I always go out for lunch, because breaks are important. At the end of the work day, I do my best to leave on time, and ‘leave the work at work’. The work/life balance is extremely important, and it’s easy to get sucked into the chaos. You have to rise above it.
8.Describe the apps and gear that you use daily which makes you more productive?
My office door: closing it makes me more productive. Interruptions are part of the business, but if you can minimize the distractions by closing a door, putting on headphones, turning off email notifications, and/or telecommuting, you can get a lot more accomplished. As for apps, Google Maps and Waze help me to avoid traffic, and cloud-based file sharing has drastically changed internal and external workflows. Nowadays, anyone can access any file from anywhere, provided they have internet access; that alone is a big help to this industry.
9. How do you stay relevant in this industry.
It’s all about training and networking. You have to adapt or die. I do my best to attend Infocomm and similar regional trade shows, to see new products, and get my CTS-D renewal credits. I look forward to seeing my peers at these events and learning about trends in the industry. Lots of products look good online or in a brochure; but you don’t hear the horror stories, or the latest gossip, unless you attend the industry events in person.
10. List out the ways certifications has helped you in your work.
When I was an audiovisual installer, I knew I eventually wanted to be an engineer. I had an engineering degree, but did not have the experience or CAD skills needed to be an engineer. I took an Autocad class at a local community college, and then got CTS certified on my own. That CTS cert helped me to land my first associate engineering job, where I eventually earned my CTS-D, as well as other certificates from various manufacturers. The CTS-D cert has opened up multiple opportunities in my career, and the Infocomm standards are crucial to the industry, because it puts everyone on the same page. I also earned LEED Green Associate accreditation to learn more about green buildings. The LEED training is important when you work with architects and MEP engineers, and the local chapter meetings were great for networking. Unfortunately, I did not earn enough renewal credits, and I let my LEED Green Associate accreditation expire a few years ago. I recommend the LEED training to everyone in AV.
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