AV Insider Spotlight : Prashant Govindan, Senior Director – Harman Professional (India & Sri Lanka)

Every 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 Prashant Govindan .
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Here is a brief intro about him.
Prashant Govindan has worked in the Audiovisual industry for over 12 years. He started in 2004 in the ProAudio field. He is currently senior director of Harman Professional for the region of India and Sri Lanka.

Please note that all opinions and views that are expressed below are his own and he is speaking in his personal capacity.

1.Describe your journey in the AV industry? How did it start?

I started with Architectural Audio as the India Country Manager for India in 2004. Architectural Audio was a leading distributor of installed audio and control brands in Asia such as Peavey MediaMatrix, Symetrix, Polycom Installed Audio products, Clockaudio microphones, Quad Industrial loudspeakers and Xantech Control Systems.

I joined Architectural Audio after a career in programming, project management and solution sales working for software firms developing custom software for supply chain, web-ERP, content management and logistics. This change was necessitated by a realization that I was not enjoying my 9 to 5 job fully and I the feeling that I should be exploring opportunities in emerging business areas. Though I had no formal training in audio or video, I was always fascinated by audio engineering and am an electronic and computer networking hobbyist. So, when the opportunity to get involved in professional audio knocked, I jumped right in.

Through the journey I realized that the field of digital signal processing (DSP) applied to professional audio would change the industry’s landscape and coupled with networked audio would revolutionize the way we implemented audio in enterprise projects. My background in computer engineering gave me the understanding of the potential of this new technology and how applications such as sound reinforcement and distance conferencing would rapidly adopt DSP based solutions.

Somewhere along the way, Biamp Systems happened and working with Biamp gave me the insight of how DSP and networked audio would be at the center of installed audio moving forward. At Biamp, my horizons expanded on the business side as well working in the markets in India, Middle East and Africa. I grew business in these regions by about 200% in the five years I was with Biamp Systems and was instrumental in iconic projects such as the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Jeddah, The Princess Noura University in Riyadh and Sidra Hospital complex in Qatar in addition to several large hospitality and corporate projects in India and the Middle East. In India I was closely involved and implementation of the audio processing in the National Knowledge Network classrooms in IITs and NITs across the country.

An opportunity to lead sales for the world’s largest audio manufacturer led me to accept the role of Sales Director at Harman Professional in India. I have led Harman Professional in India from what was essentially a distributor-led operation to a direct sales model and successfully grew the business three-fold in the time I have been here. My current role of Sr. Director of operations at Harman for India and Sri Lanka is essentially a leadership role with Engineering, R&D, Sales & Marketing, Finance, Supply Chain, Applications and Service reporting into me. From being a sales professional for about 8 years to running all aspects of the business, I now have a complete view of the business that now encompasses all functions, a wide range of products and solutions covering audio, video and lighting and a managing a vast geography that covers India, Sri Lanka and Maldives. I could not have asked for a more fulfilling and satisfying career.

Reflecting back, I think I have been very lucky and have had the good wishes and support of my family, peers, customers and channel partners – many of whom are now close friends. I am grateful to the community for giving me the trust and the opportunities to serve them.

2.What do you think is the challenges that are facing a new person who wants to join the industry.

Looking back at my career, I think the challenges are different from what used to be. Anyone who aspires to join and be successful needs to have passion and needs to thoroughly enjoy being in audio, video, control and lighting. It does not matter if the candidate does not fully understand the technology, what really matters is the willingness to commit to learn continuously. Also as with any other industry, customer oriented-ness is a key attitude that will ensure growth and success.

 [RELATED] : If you have missed any of the previous interviews, please click here.

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3.What are the positives of working in this industry

The professional AV industry is probably one of the most exciting place to be in right now given the convergence of technology and the growth in the industry. I believe the multidisciplinary nature of the industry and the overall skills deficit that we have currently make this industry amongst one of the first for any newcomer to look at. While I think the sunrise phase in the industry has passed, there is huge opportunity for professionals from all domains to find their calling; be it engineers, finance & management professionals, creative designers or sales and marketing professionals – there is space for professionals from all disciplines. Having said that, we are currently seeing a large amount of lateral hires coming in from parallel industries such as telecom, software, facilities, fine arts and so on who are attracted by the career opportunities that this industry offers.

4.What in your opinion would you change in the industry? What are the negatives that are prevalent ?

I think as with any new industry, there is a serious skills deficit here. This is affecting the quality of deliverables and the overall customer experience. Also this skews the talent/skills demand-supply equation in favor of job seekers very often with little or no relevant skills. The need of the hour therefore is to push through with accelerated learning and development programs at all levels. While there are organizations such as Infocomm that have started doing this, we need to ramp up training exponentially for us to see quick results. In this manufacturers and industry bodies can contribute heavily. While I think things have gotten better over the last decade, we could put more effort and focus on building skills and improving knowledge levels.Prashant Govindan 15.Describe your ideal client? What do you wish clients to know before hiring you.

The ideal client would be one that is a partner in the project. There is an increasingly growing school of thought that instead of being on opposite sides of the table as in a vendor-customer relationship; it would be mutually beneficial if we viewed each other as partners working towards the same goal – successful deployment of the project. Since we don’t directly work with end-customers, I cannot comment on the second question. However as an industry professional I would comment that it would be helpful for the customers to not only look at cost of the project (in terms of material and services) but also look at the credentials of the contracting company and the reputation for quality work and after sales support.

6.If you were going to start over, what would you do differently ?

Nothing different. I think my journey has been exciting and very rewarding and I would go about it exactly as I did in the past.

7.Describe a typical work day for you. What are your daily disciplines?

In my current role, I manage the overall business and operations at Harman Professional India. Most days, I start with quick updates from my team followed by addressing any immediate issues that need to be resolved. I don’t like to linger on problems – I get them out of the way as soon as I can.

I like to use my mornings to get a snapshot of the business and form action plans. Anything creative needs to be done with in the morning and anything routine in the afternoon. Evenings are for customer meetings and interactions in a relaxed setting.

I also like to talk to end-customers directly and I ensure that I have an hour at least to speak to a new customer. Over the course of the day several customers reach us on our helpline number and this comes to me as part of the lead-generation program. I pick up a couple of customers contacts randomly and talk to them to understand their background, their business and what they are expecting from us. Sometimes it’s an irate customer who is complaining about a product or our service and for me this presents a challenge to turn their negative experience into a positive one. This is a great learning experience for me personally and the insights I’ve gathered from these interactions are invaluable.

The other thing that I am passionate about is music and music education. In India, though we have a rich musical tradition, we have never really explored music as a serious career up until now. There is immense talent out there and as an industry leader we provide opportunities to artistes and bands that are just starting out. We do this through music sponsorships and endorsements and I get very closely involved in these initiatives.

8.Describe the apps and gear that you use daily which makes you more productive?

The one app that I have figured I can’t live without is Evernote. I have to have an evernote tab open when I am working and the versatility of the app is incredible. I use Dropbox for storage and use Scannable for all forms of document scanning. I can’t remember the last time I used a real scanner! I am usually listening to “Apple Music” or “Gaana” when in India and on “Spotify” when I am in the US. I used to carry around all my music on my ipod but I just stream it now. I need to have music around me and another interesting music app is the “Aweditorium” which is amazing for discovering new music from very talented but lesser known artistes. For entertainment, I am on YouTube or NetFlix. I am an active user of Zomato in India and Yelp in the US for restaurant reviews. Audio apps which I use extensively for work include the ViSi remote app from Soundcraft, the HiQnet motion control app, dbx Venu360 app, SRX connect app from JBL and powered by Crown app.

My gear includes my iphones, a Lenovo thinkpad X230 which is my work laptop and a Mac Book Pro for my music and entertainment apps. I also use an ipad mini which is great for taking notes, casual surfing and as a second computer at my desk. I also have a collection of headphones ranging from the incredible AKG K3000i reference in-ear monitors to the Harman Kardon Soho that I use when I travel. I also have a JBL Flip and a Harman Kardon Esquire mini for music and as a speakerphone. At home I use a Mac Mini as my media center and player hooked up to my TV. My main entertainment system at home is a pair of stereo JBL 4312E vintage monitors hooked up to Crown XLS 1500 amplifier and a Project Carbon turntable. Being in the professional AV industry definitely has its perks especially when it comes to access to gear!

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Please drop your questions in the comments below and i will make sure that he sees them.

For more information about Prashant Govindan , please find a few links.
LinkedIn
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Next week we will be featuring another AV Insider so please stay tuned.

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Ajish Raju

About Ajish Raju

Ajish Raju is co-founder and Chief Evangelist of Favante. He loves traveling, trying new cuisines and gadgets. Reach him at ajish@ajishraju.me