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Getting to know you: Rob Smith, Shure

Tell us a bit about your background in the AV industry.
I initially worked for a small AV company for about 17 years, ultimately becoming a director. I then moved across to Electrosonic and became general manager for the service business, after which I started working for HB Communications and opened up their EMEA operation. So I had around 25 years of AV experience before moving to Shure.

You joined Shure relatively recently – what attracted you to the company?
I’d been a customer of Shure’s for years, so I was well aware of the brand, products and reputation. An opportunity arose to be part of the company following the reorganisation, which interested me. The final thing that persuaded me was the atmosphere at the head office in Waltham Abbey – as soon as I stepped through the door for my interview, I could sense that everyone was enjoying their work and could feel the positive atmosphere. That clinched it for me. Since then, I’ve visited many of the 30+ Shure offices across the world and it’s the same positive atmosphere in every office, which is really cool.

What products are currently proving the most popular at Shure?
The Microflex Advance Array microphone range – we’re building them as fast as we’re selling them – they’re that popular, particularly in the UK. There’s also been big interest in Microflex Complete and Microflex Complete Wireless since they were demonstrated at ISE. Microflex Wireless is particularly popular in Central London with all the wireless congestion. Stalwarts include Shure ULX-D, which continues to grow and Axient Digital, which has been great for Shure; its applications are limitless.

There’s been a recent push towards standardisation of AV kit across many large organisations. What benefits does this offer end users
Standardisation of AV equipment offers the end user the same audio and video clarity and performance, whether the meeting takes place in London, Tokyo or anywhere else in the world. Coupled with that, the old model of supporting AV systems doesn’t work in an enterprise deployment model, where you have to standardise the rooms and put in remote monitoring and pick products where you’ve got a manufacturer that can support them globally. You can’t have a niche product, only available in Brazil, and try to deploy that globally. It just wouldn’t work.

What advice would you give to businesses investing in AV?
Look for a company that understands the nature of the AV business and engages with it, through a good partner network or global presence, or companies working in a niche which they pretty much own. Companies working to the old ‘general’ AV model just won’t survive in the future. The IT/AV convergence has happened; that’s the world we live in, and you need to identify a company with a knowledge and understanding of both markets.

Outside of work, how do you like to spend your time?
My wife and I spend a lot of time travelling, which is something that we both really enjoy. We also like going for walks, too.

Finally, tell us something about yourself which might surprise people…
Before the AV industry I spent 10 years in the RAF as an avionics engineer working on Tornados. However the only time I’ve been in a helicopter was when the RNLI had to rescue me after falling out of my boat…!

Rob Smith is senior director, integrated systems sales, Shure