Meeting Topic: PAMA Panel
Moderator Name: Karen Dunn - KMD Production
Speaker Name: John Maier/CEO of Blue Microphones, Greg Beebe/Director of Professional Audio for Sennheiser, Karam Kaul/VP Global Product Line Management Professional Audio Harman International, Joe Andrulis/Executive VP Corporate Development Biamp
Meeting Location: Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences 1205 N. Fiesta Blvd Gilbert Az via ZOOM
Networking is described as one of the most important, if not the most important, skills that a student can develop before setting foot in the pro audio industry. Karen Dunn from KMD Productions has made it her mission to help students achieve that skill by bringing industry professionals and students together virtually over Zoom!
Karen began with introductions and a layout of the four topics that would be covered by each panelist during the presentation:
1. A day in the life
2. The business and the industry
3. What's in it for me as a student?
4. What to expect in the interview process
To start, Greg Beebe began by answering the question, "What is PAMA?" PAMA stands for Pro Audio Manufacturers Alliance. He described this organization as a group of audio enthusiasts, primarily dedicated to educating and passing on audio enthusiasm. In addition, PAMA deciphers business trends, promotes brands, participates in outreach programs, and donates to struggling parts of the industry.
Each presenter then described a day in the life of their job at their company. Discussion began as "pre covid" and ended "post covid", describing the changes that came with that transition. Presenters discussed the many things that are requirements of their role, how they joined their particular industry, and how long they've been with their company. A couple of the presenters talked about how their fascination with the engineering of audio products and the way they're built led to their current roles. Each of the panelists spoke to where their company wants to go in the future, what the market is like, and what they believe current needs are.
The conversation then shifted to business and the industry. John Maier with Blue spoke first. (John Maier is CEO of Blue, and is a designer of award winning and critically acclaimed microphones, headphones and accessories!) John said that it all started for him with a love and passion for mics. Blue's first mic was the Bottle. Currently retailing for $4000, this mic is described as "an entire mic locker in one". John explained that the products sold by Blue are for the enjoyment of the staff just as much as the consumer and that they get just as many recommendations from employees as customers. Blue sells to two main markets - recording studios and desktop users.
Greg Beebe with Sennheiser spoke next. (Greg Beebe has worked with Sennheiser in various roles since 1992. He is currently the Director Professional Audio.) Greg started out in a lighthearted way by letting us know that he originally took the job with Sennheiser to be near the beach! However, he wound up loving it so much more than he thought he would. Sennheiser is celebrating its 75th anniversary, and is family owned. Sennheiser sells three "units" - Consumer units (headphones, sound bars etc) business communications units and pro audio units (live sound, theater, broadcast, film etc.). Greg discussed that the environment at Sennheiser is very free for exploration and utilizes the passion to create.
Karam Kaul with HARMAN spoke next. (Karam Kaul is the Vice President of Product Development at HARMAN International, a global leader in professional audio and lighting solutions, connected car technology, consumer audio, and design and analytics.) HARMAN is a very large company with many facets, primarily focused on installed sound. Karam described HARMAN as "technical products for technical people". The mission of HARMAN is "What new things can we do with audio?" Consumers are looking for new things, pushing boundaries. How can companies exceed expectations? How can we do more with less?
That's the primary drive for HARMAN. Karam also let us know that HARMAN is actually a subsidiary of Samsung!
Joe Andrulis from Biamp spoke last. (Joe Andrulis is the Executive Vice President of Corporate Development at Biamp.) Joe echoed most of what had been said from the other panelists, but added that being committed and driven were traits that got him where he is today. He remarked that you might not be smartest at something, but you can be the most committed. Biamp is global and diverse and also primarily focuses on installed systems.
The last two topics were geared towards the students in attendance. "What's in it for me?" was the next question and while answers varied, there were some running themes.
All panelists remarked that positions are open on a constant basis and in addition to pre existing positions, new ones are created all the time based upon need. Most commonly, openings will be in costumer support, marketing, engineering, and product management for entry level positions.
The last question answered by the panelists, was what to expect in the interview process. Again, while answers varied from company to company, overarching themes remained constant: Prepare yourself, present yourself well and be genuine. An interview is not something you win; the point is to find a perfect match. Have the ability to think for yourself. Have questions, research those who are interviewing you. Be bold, say yes to everything, don't ever say "it's not my job." Most critically, remember that networking is 80% of your destiny.
The meeting concluded with some Q&A from students.
Written By: CRAS AES Chair - Julianna Shepherd