Spotlight: Sharath Abraham – Engineering Manager at AVI-SPL
In my biweekly blog series, I am highlighting some of the incredible people who work for the Audio Video Industry. In this post, we are profiling Sharath Abraham. Here is a brief introduction.
Sharath Abraham is working currently as Engineering Manager at AVI-SPL.
1. Describe your journey in the AV industry? How did it start?
My journey in the AV Industry started unintentionally. After graduating from NJIT in 2011 with my BS in Information Technology I took a job with a company called Computer Science Corporation in South New Jersey where I was hired as a Technical Analyst. During my time at that company I was involved with integrating SAP for a client along with editing and maintaining macros for Excel Sheets. After about a year I just didn’t get any joy out of going into work every day so I quit my job and posted on Facebook asking if anyone had any leads to jobs. Luckily, my friend from college worked at Crestron and told me to apply so I applied for the Application Engineering role. After my interview I didn’t think I got the position but I got the call back and then my journey started at Crestron headquarters in Rockleigh, NJ.
2. How does a fresher conquer this industry?
A fresher conquers this industry by always being curious and willing to learn. One thing I learned about the AV industry is that there is always something new to learn or even get better at. Even though analog video and audio and pretty much phased out you still need to understand the basics and then work your way towards the more complicated niches. Even in the AV industry you must develop a foundation and build on that every year. That way you can be part of more conversations as a problem solver. It also allows you to network with people in the industry because you can talk shop while hanging out.
3. What are the positives of working in this industry?
The positives of this industry are the people and the never-ending opportunity to learn something new from someone. I may be biased with my answer on this because I am very social, so I put myself out there. By doing that I have met such amazing people with such vast amount of knowledge.
The other positive of working in this industry is that you have two avenues to choose from. Residential or Commercial. With those two avenues you can then get better at subjects within those worlds or even use your skills to be a part of both worlds.
You also notice a lot of things while you are out in public at different venues that you wouldn’t have noticed before such as speakers in an airport or a video wall buidlings. My wife hates when I stare at AV equipment in public, but I love to think about the whole process of how everything came together.
[RELATED] : If you have missed any of my previous interviews, please click here.
4. What in your opinion would you change in the industry?
One thing I would change is to get the AV Industry in front of students when they are in high school or college. From the stories I have heard from other colleagues everyone pretty much got into this industry by accident. No one has ever responded, to me at least, that they wanted to be in the industry since college or high school.
I mentioned this in another podcast, but I think the way to get fresh minds and new blood is for companies in the AV Industry to partner with colleges to attend their career fair. Additionally, the companies should also partner with organizations such as the National Society of Black Engineers, National Society of Professional Engineers, and Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers. That would also allow the industry to become more diverse as well.
5. Describe your ideal client? What do you wish clients to know before hiring you?
My ideal client would be a client that is willing to communicate openly and accept the fact that I know what I am doing as well knowing I have an amazing team behind me. I know doctors hate when you go to them and self-diagnose yourself even though they are the ones that went through medical school. In the same way I would want my client to trust me that what I am saying is the best solution to the issue.
That is of course on the basis that the clients properly vetted me of course. Clients should know that my goal is not product selling but problem solving. There are solutions to every problem, but proper time and research must be done to make sure we come up with the right solution. And the reason a client would work with AVI-SPL and my self is to know that we have already done most of the research for you but we are also willing to explain so that our clients understand as well.
6. Describe a typical day in your life?
A typical workday for me is similar to most in the industry where the first thing I do when I wake up is check my phone and my emails. Then after checking on my dog, Chutney, I either work from home or sometimes head into the office.
During the workday I check in on my team members regarding projects they are working on via Teams but also check in with my Operations Manager as well. Then as the day progresses with meetings, I spend some time where I focus on one item.
One of the hardest parts about being a manager is that I get pulled into multiple things throughout the day so on my calendar I have time set out to focus. I use that time to sometimes research a product for a client or some training for somethings that’s not Crestron. After 3 months at AVI-SPL I still have a lot to learn about products from other manufacturers.
Then once the day is over, I spend time with Chutney and my wife and go for a walk. Then right before bed I hop on my Peloton for a 30 minute workout, shower, and go to bed. Then…REPEAT!
7. Describe the apps and gear that you use daily which makes you more productive?
The one app I used constantly throughout the day is Microsoft Teams. I use that on my laptop as well as my phone. Microsoft Teams helps me stay in touch with all my team members and the rest of the management team. With Teams I can discuss projects, collaborate on action items for deliverables, as well as knowledge share. It also allows me to communicate with AVI-SPL co-workers from other offices. Microsoft To Do app is also very useful because sometimes I just add random things to the list and then I get reminder later.
One app I also use throughout the day is Spotify. In the morning I have a playlist I play to get motivated for the day. The playlist has tracks such a Survival of the Fittest by Mobb Deep and Shake it Out by Florence and the Machine. Throughout the day I switch the playlists depending on what I am doing as well. Sometimes work gets a little hectic so I use music to get away for a couple of minutes to get my head back into work mode.
I have also been learning new ways to utilize Power BI to visualize data better. I am currently enrolled in a Udemy class to learn more ways to use it properly so that I can make decisions faster with a couple of clicks.
8. How does someone stay relevant in this industry? Who are your role models in this industry?
The way to stay relevant is to always be curious. With that curiosity it leads to new learning opportunities in which you can expand your knowledge. When I worked at Crestron, I was asked to do things I was never really good at, but I knew with my attitude and ability to pick things up quickly I could make it happen. That allowed me to meet people in other departments and fosters relationships I have to this day.
Social media in any form also helps you get an idea of where the industry is at as well. For instance, if you go on LinkedIn 1 out of every 5 posts relates to something in the Unified Collaboration word. You do not necessarily have to be active and engage, but you do get more bang for the buck by being engaged.
I have a couple of role models in the industry that I typically go to for advice. Cory Stene and Glenn Pernick hired me back in the day and gave me a chance. From that moment they gave me multiple opportunities to grow in Crestron and guided me towards success by providing me with resources.
Once I joined the sales team at Crestron I was initially scared but during my time as the Technical Director I was able to meet and work alongside Jeff Stachura and Dan O’Donnell. They helped me understand a lot about the sales side of things in the AV Industry and to this day I reach out to them for advice.
Now that I am with AVI-SPL and my Operations Manager, John Scaramella is someone who I have the most upmost respect from. I have so much to learn from him and I am so happy to be a part of this team. I have learned something new from him every single day.
In the AV Industry one person that has given me amazing advice is Chris Neto. This started all the way back from when we met at InfoComm. Ever since they I just followed his trail regarding social media presence.
9. If you were not in this industry, what would you be doing instead?
If I were not in the AV Industry, I would probably be working for a company in the IT department. My dream when I was little was to make it to the NBA, but the dream ended once high school ended. I would think if I had the chance, I could work for the NBA but in a technical role.
If that didn’t pan out, I think I would want to learn how to become a professional dog trainer. This is only because of my dog Chutney!
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