Innovative development programme delivers dynamic talent to the AV industryA year ago, three graduate recruits joined Reflex at the start of our unique training offering. Beginning with a 12-month programme that gives participants the flexibility to choose their own career paths within Reflex and then giving ongoing support in their chosen field, it’s designed to hone the young, dynamic talent that the AV industry needs to move forward. David Nurse, Nathan Scott and Tim Edwards have now completed their initial training and we caught up with them again to see how the last year has helped them develop and what choices they have made.

David chose the path of a service engineer because “it offers such a lot of variation, dealing with complex issues and travelling to different client’s sites” he says.

Meanwhile for Nathan, “the commissioning engineer role was an easy choice to make, I’m a ‘people person’ and in my role I’m working closely with the project managers and most importantly our clients”. It was important that Reflex trained Nathan so he can use his technical knowledge and he agrees “this technical knowledge gives me the ability to tune the system to make sure it’s performing the best it can”.

There were many reasons why Tim chose to pursue a path as a System Programmer. “I wanted to be able to understand the whole system down to programming level. Also, the process of working on new systems gives me more opportunities to work with the latest technology”, both were obviously important factors in his choice.

Delving further into how this unique approach to staff development, recruitment and graduate training has helped the graduates, their replies were illuminating.

Your training schedule is now completed – how do you feel?

David: I’m feeling great, having thoroughly enjoyed my first year with Reflex. Looking back, I remember examining a very complex looking schematic and not knowing what was going on. Now I can look at that same schematic and get right into troubleshooting with confidence.

Nathan: Relieved! It’s been a hard at times, especially the CTS but most definitely worth all the effort in the end. I’ve gained a wealth of knowledge about the AV world.

Tim: I have much the same feeling as when I graduated from university. Not so much a feeling of “I’ve completed something” as of “now I can start” – a bit like the guys in the London Marathon who have to run what looks like miles before they even cross the start line!

How do you feel about the flexible nature of your training?  What benefits did it bring?

David: During that first year, a lot of learning took place out on the job shadowing our service engineers. This flexible approach was beneficial to me as I tend to learn most by doing.

Nathan: The flexibility was key to my success. It was a huge benefit to be able to train whilst working out on site. It meant I could put into practice what I had just learned on the courses. For me it really helped the knowledge to stick.

Tim: Certainly, during the second half of my training, I felt that the opportunity to go out and work with different people from Reflex was crucial to reinforcing what I was learning at a theoretical level. Before that, most of my experience of AV had been smaller-scale, isolated jobs.

How have you used your training in the real life environment in your new position?

David: Nearly everything I do on site draws on the training in some way. For
example, connecting to equipment with a laptop, terminating connectors, or understanding product functions.

Nathan: I use it every day, from configuring a DSP to tweaking a program, they are all things I’ve learned to do from either manufactures training or from the Reflex team themselves.

Tim: There were quite a few foundation programming courses in my initial training. Since moving over to the programming department, I have continued onto some of the more advanced level courses such as Crestron, with a view to becoming a certified programmer. Naturally the skills I’ve learned so far on those courses help me every day.”

Have your perceptions of Reflex changed since you started your training?

David: I’ve developed a lot of respect for each sector of the company. Being a service engineer I don’t get involved in the business side of things but recognise how all the company’s departments fit together into a cohesive whole. An organisation is only as strong as the weakest link and in that respect Reflex is a strong company to work for.”

Nathan: I knew from day one Reflex is well known in the industry as one of the “top dogs” but I didn’t realise how well. Meeting people in the last year, whether clients, manufacturers or even sub-contractors, they all spoke positively about Reflex. I knew then I’d made the right decision.

Tim: I wouldn’t say my perceptions of Reflex specifically have changed. However, very early on in our training, I remember all three of us being quite surprised at the positive reaction we got from ‘industry people’ when they found out we worked for Reflex. Now that reaction makes more sense to me.

What excites you most about the technology industry at the moment?

David: Picking up my phone and using an app to get a milkshake delivered in 15 minutes by some guy riding a bicycle is pretty cool. The most exciting thing for me is how this technology can really make a difference in people’s everyday lives, using live data from roads and cars to ease traffic flow, sensors in structures that can save people’s lives. The possibilities are endless.

Nathan: Virtual reality seems to be developing daily; I’m excited to see what the future holds for this new tech and how it can be used in the AV world.

Tim: I think what excites me most is the choice that is afforded to us as technology advances. Some of the ‘wallpaper TVs’ that are coming out now look absolutely amazing and similarly, some of the impossibly small speakers that somehow manage to sound absolutely massive have an obvious place in AV!

If you won the lottery this weekend, what would you do?

David: I’d like to think I’d do something meaningful, help some people who are less fortunate than me. However, I would have some fun as well – probably involving a luxury yacht and a surf tour of Indonesia!

Nathan: How much are we talking? Could I buy the Maldives? I’d buy the Maldives. Reflex Team Building trip anyone?

Tim: Buy a house; fill it with all the latest tech and then jet off round the world until it’s all out of date!

Finally, for anyone wondering how they too can forge a career in the AV industry, our graduate recruits give one piece of advice.

“It’s certainly challenging but if you have enthusiasm even without experience, I’m sure you’ll find the right integrator” says David. “AV’s a great industry to be involved in and economically things are moving in a positive direction. So don’t be afraid to put yourself out there – I’m proof that you can learn the skills you need if you’re prepared to put in the effort.”

Nathan advises “If you’re interested in working in this industry its training programs like this that are key to breaking into it. They are rare so once you’ve found one, stick with it. It’s hard work but definitely worth it.”

Tim identifies the competitive advantage as “a solid understanding of networking and IT infrastructure, we are always hearing that lines between AV and IT are becoming more blurred, so this is a huge advantage to anyone who is new to AV.”

What would you ask the young, dynamic talent coming into the AV industry today? Join the debate using #askourgrads on Twitter or LinkedIn.