Next up in our ‘meet the Pro AV Power 20’ series, we profile Kevin McLoughlin who proudly sits at 15 in this year’s rankings. Kevin has spent 25 years in the AV industry, currently working as AV manager at the Royal Society of Medicine in London, facilitating the delivery of education to medical professionals and supporting corporate events to provide revenue for the charity. He was the recipient of our Outstanding Contribution award at the 2019 AV Technology Awards.
How did you first get involved in the AV marketplace?
It’s the industry cliché: by accident. I worked in hotels’ conference and meetings departments, dabbled in the AV systems and set-ups for the meeting spaces and when I saw a job ad for ‘Audio Visual Technician’ in the London Wardour Street Job centre I thought it sounded interesting and cool. Twenty-five years later, it’s many times more interesting and cooler than it was then.
What would you say are the most significant changes/developments to have taken place in the industry during your time?
The analogue to digital change was a big one. Learning new troubleshooting skills and realising much of your knowledge and experience is redundant is a norm for technology, but that was a ‘biggy’.
What personal and professional achievements are you most proud of?
In my job, I (along with some fabulous colleagues) took the AV department from obscurity to the award winning, lead in marketing, USP of our venue. In my extra-curricular activities, I am very proud of how I (also along with fabulous colleagues) have contributed to the growth of the AV User Group into a global and highly respected end user forum for the industry.
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Do you have a philosophy that you live by professionally? If so, what is it and how has it helped you in your career, the businesses you’ve worked with, and the wider industry?
I am very fond of the Twitter platform for interacting and engaging with the global AV community. On twitter there is a hashtag #AVGivesBack, this fits in with my ethos over the last decade and I intend it to be entwined with everything I do for the rest of my involvement with AV. The AV community is overflowing with good people, who if brought together can achieve amazing altruistic projects to help the industry and beyond. I will be looking at ways I can support and facilitate this through any means possible.
Prior to the outbreak of the global pandemic, what would you say were the biggest areas of technological or operational challenge for the AV industry?
A common theme in the last 18 months has been a skills shortage and discussion on where the next generation of AV professionals is coming from. Post-pandemic, this will once again be an issue when business levels return to ‘normal’. There will need to be multi-faceted combined industry initiatives to meet this challenge, it shouldn’t be difficult; AV is very cool and exciting and should be an easy sell.
What impact has the pandemic had on you and your business, and what do you think will be the longer term impact of this extraordinary period on our sector?
I work for a charity (Royal Society of Medicine), which relies heavily on the revenue from the 1 Wimpole Street venue; this has of course completely evaporated and presented the obvious challenges connected with this. I am very proud of my employer for not letting go of any staff due to the pandemic and also topping up all wages to 100 per cent for staff in furlough and looking after zero-hours staff accordingly.
The events industry will go through a transitional stage post-lockdown but I have a feeling people are desperate to meet face to face again and that the industry will quickly re-establish high levels of activity.
For me, being furloughed challenged my personal identity, which I soon realised was intrinsically linked to my job. I have in some ways re-invented myself but also feel that I could have done so much more with the time if I could have come to terms with the situation sooner. I have, however, done away with 12 per cent of excess ‘body’ that I was carrying around!
What needs to change in the industry? What do we as a community need to get better at?
I am actively involved in the AVIXA Diversity Council so I would focus on this. Our industry would be better if its workforce was more diverse, with corresponding new ideas, new solutions and also representative of our customers and the society we live in.
In your opinion, what will be the biggest driver(s) of change for the AV market in the next five years?
The industry is so fascinating and exciting because it’s changing constantly, in so many ways it is unrecognisable from the AV industry I joined in 1995. I have two young sons and the connection between AV and esports and esports arenas and related university courses was an easy win to show how the industry is relevant to them.
Finally, what would be your message to those starting out their careers in the AV community?
‘Community’ is the right word here. To me there is so much more than just a ‘job’ in AV; the wider community has helped me develop as a professional and a person. AV people are interesting, clever, resourceful and fun to be with. My advice would be to get out into the wider community through social media, through industry organisations and groups, see the bigger picture and have fun.
Who’s had the greatest influence on your career?
When I first became an AV Manager I felt very alone; an imposter and unsure what my strategy should be. I reached out with many emails to venues all over London asking to meet and tap into others’ experience and knowledge. Ben Pain, Deborah Jones and Derek Chalmers were the only ones that responded, but they were all I needed to open many doors to the wider community, and grow in confidence in my role, for this I will be forever grateful.
Who did/do you look up to as a role model professionally?
An icon of the industry is Greg Jeffreys from Visual Displays Ltd. Running successful businesses, former president of InfoComm/AVIXA, perennial AV standards creator and advocate, unrelenting in giving back to the AV community, fascinating, witty and empathic in conversation and an all-around good egg. If you don’t know him personally, you should.
How do you measure success?
What’s your biggest professional regret?
I regret not getting involved in the wider AV community when I was a technician, training more and taking a deeper interest. I only really woke up ten years later when I became the manager of an AV team.
If you were a teenager today, what profession would you go into?
I have two boys, 11 and 8, I would recommend to them that they expose themselves to as much diversity as possible to open their minds and the opportunities in front of them.