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 Zvonimir Prokic. Here is his brief introduction.
Zvonimir Prokic is the Head of Programming at Platinum Vision LLC, U.A.E.
1. Describe your journey in the AV industry? How did it start?
Well it was a tough one but I would not change it at all. It started with my cousins Commodore 64, endless game loading screens and the boards unfortunate demise, me annoying my family to get me a computer and my brother finally getting me this Cyrix beast at a speedy 187 MHz that I broke in a matter of weeks… I was devastated when he told me some crazy amount he paid for repair, but I made sure I dismantled it the very next day, learn everything I could in the shortest possible period and never let this happen again. This specific event always reminded me of what I need to do in order to stay one step ahead. Ten years later I told my brother what kind of impact that moment had on me, to what he just laughed and told me he actually brought it to a friend and paid nothing… after initial few seconds of “WHAT?!” I sincerely thanked him.
Back in the 90’s I was mostly interested in computer sciences and thought that this is where I will eventually end up. However I ended up in Dubai water park making burgers, which was not ideal, but due to a rough period in my country I had no choice. When I moved to training department they did allow me to cross-train with IT guys and by doing that i barely had any time left, as I worked six days a week and on the seventh I was at IT department helping out, but it was quite rewarding. Once I had enough money I pushed all my savings towards Cisco trainings and soon after I heard from a good friend that there is this company called Crestron that is searching for someone and that I should definitely go. Not knowing much about AV i went through their website for a few minutes (until 3am in the morning) and was quite impressed by the gear they offer and what it could do. Interview went well and all of a sudden I was sitting in their offices. I remember being given a pro2, some audio/video distribution gear and thinking to myself “you are going to give me all this stuff to play with, and pay me for it?! I am never leaving this place!”. After that, there was no turning back.
2. What do you think are the challenges that are facing a new person who wants to join the industry?
A new person today might be expected to know much more that it was required 10-15 years back and during my early days I did come across people that did not want to share their knowledge, but I believe it should not be difficult if you are passionate about what you do. There is always that someone who will help and advise you, if you just search in the right places. Also don’t be afraid to reach for the other end of the spectrum, if you are only a technician, try to learn about networks or programming and vice versa, programmers should try to understand how hardware behaves live, or how it is all interconnected. Only with a solid overall knowledge can you make a system stable and advance your career.
3. What are the positives of working in this industry?
Fun, just plain good fun! This industry took me from yachts to huge villas, amazing cinemas, hotels on islands and so many other wonderful places that I could never have seen, if not for this great industry of ours. As it is so diverse it keeps us constantly exploring new ideas, which is quite great as we always stay up to date.
[RELATED] : If you have missed any of my previous interviews, please click here.
4. What in your opinion would you change in the industry? What are the negatives that are prevalent?
I believe refusal to adapt to change is one of the biggest issues in our line of work. By that I don’t think just about the integrators, unfortunately we have seen many big and small names in the industry sold and then picked apart slowly over the years, but if they just opened up a little I think it would have made a difference.
Just look at what the Raspberry Pi Foundation did and how it entered several markets at once with the smallest of boards, caused a flood of clones, yet still stays dominant.
Looking at companies like Google and Apple you can see how gradually they move towards our industry and whether we want to or not change is coming. Is this good or bad? In my opinion it will cause a shift in what we need to do and how, which will push many back to the drawing board, but on the long run when dust settles benefits will be visible and I think, many.
5. Describe your ideal client? What do you wish clients to know before hiring you?
Looking back I dealt with clients at both ends of the spectrum, from know-it-all’s to the ones that have no idea about it, or why they are paying for a programmer that fidgets with his laptop in the corner of the rack room… He’s probably just playing Pac-man… In both cases it would be good if they were more familiar with what we do. Just to explain, in both cases we try to educate and show through a demo what they will get, however only once the project is done and they pick up their phone in some random airport or country to check security cameras, water heaters, AC, Lighting, media or some other random thing at their home, do they truly understand. This is why repeat clients are the best, they know what they want and they know what to expect.
Although, to be honest, over the years our industry gained a fair amount of needed popularity and our clients today are way more exposed to it then your average Joe was, 15 years back.
6. If you were going to start over, what would you do differently?
I have no regrets with the choices I made and paths taken. You do the best you can with the choices that are given and move forward. While it does sound like a cliché, I would like to think that it is a good guiding principle. Or maybe this one, from the immortal words by one of the first AI villains, HALL 9000 “I am putting myself to the fullest possible use, which is all I think that any conscious entity can ever hope to do.”
7. Describe a typical work day for you. What are your daily disciplines?
Due to the nature of my job I find myself in a very mercurial position where tasks would constantly change. While I do keep a project list and prioritize, my day changes based on the needs of my team. I could be programming today and helping my colleagues do the same, just to find myself in a rack room tomorrow with our rack builders and senior engineers troubleshooting some random glitch. Additionally I do not shy away from helping project managers and or our technical team, as this allows greater transparency and makes my job easier on the long run.
8. Describe the apps and gear that you use daily which makes you more productive?
First interaction is always with my phone, then outlook, followed by few sessions of remote desktop assistance or Crestron software, notepad++, putty, CAD and occasionally tinkering in Linux terminal. Oh yes and let us not forget those great moments when I have to chop something with my trusty Leatherman, which are rare these days, but always exciting.
9. How do you stay relevant in this industry?
Like most, I try to go through various online sources and monitor gadgets released, visit a trade show, or meet some old friends in the same business. Additionally I find that social media groups for AV integrators and programmers also give a unique insight into real life scenarios and issues that people encounter. After seeing how this social Hive Mind has helped me on many occasions I decided just recently to contribute more than usual by starting a YouTube channel which I hope will assist someone or at least entertain people from time to time. Furthermore it is nice seeing how people assist others and it is even better being a part of that collective and contributing in any way you can. This way you are exposed and seen by some people that you might never meet in your regular circles and are updated on current events in a great way.
To know more about him or his business, please connect with him on Linkedin.
Also please drop your questions in the comments below and I will make sure that he sees them.