Recently, I sat down with Maureen Mead, Business Development Manager for Almo Professional A/V, founder of the AVIXA Women’s Council local chapter in the Baltimore area, oh, and AVIXA Certified Technical Specialist (CTS) and NEWLY accredited CTS-I. Her CTS accomplishments allow her to join the small club of women who hold these distinguished accreditations.
But why did this busy mother of four pursue CTS certification and involvement in the AVIXA Women’s Council? How has this helped her both personally and professionally? What is her advice to other women currently in the industry or those interested in potentially pursuing a career in Pro AV? Read on to learn more…
Melody: Tell us about your background, Maureen. How did you get here?
Maureen: Well, I have a background in athletic game day production and programming. As Director of Operations, I was very involved in the technical aspects of set up/break down for sporting events. This intrigued me to learn even more about the audio visual industry. I took a position in inside sales at Almo Professional A/V, then eventually moved into my current role as Business Development Manager.
Melody: How did you become interested in AVIXA?
Maureen: When I started at Almo, I began noticing initials behind names and wanted to learn more about what they meant. I did some research on AVIXA and immediately became a member. Through AVIXA, I was able to take online courses, participate in webinars and get connected with other women in the industry. Every door I went through, I realized there was so much more and I wanted to keep learning!
Learn more about AVIXA membership here.
Melody: What motivated you to get your CTS certification?
Maureen: I wanted to be a solutions center for partners, not just take orders. I received a lot of encouragement from fellow AVIXA women and after looking further into it, I realized it was absolutely something I could do. I started a self-taught course and was able to learn the material at my own pace. There is a huge library of helpful videos and other information available to members on the AVIXA website and this made it easier for me to find what I needed to keep moving forward.
Melody: When did you become certified?
Maureen: I started the journey toward CTS certification in June 2016 and put June 1, 2017 on my calendar as my goal date to become certified. This is something I encourage everyone to do…set a test date! We all have busy lives and it’s easy to get off track but if you keep the goal somewhere you can see it every day, you’re more likely to keep pushing toward it. I went in and took my test and left as a CTS certification holder! I saw how this credential validated me in the field and this inspired me to go further so I immediately applied to take the CTS-I test and started the preparation process all over again. Not many women in the industry have both designations so I’m pretty proud of this!
Melody: Why is it important for a professional in the industry to be CTS-certified?
Maureen: It definitely adds validation to your professional role. Everyone in the Pro AV industry knows what CTS certification is. If you see CTS behind someone’s name, you know they are serious about their job and our industry. This was important to me, especially being a woman in a male-oriented industry (although this is evolving!). When my role at Almo changed from inside sales to business development, I was out in the field more spec’ing jobs, meeting vendors and getting involved in the technical aspects of a project. I was able to immediately use the knowledge I gained through my CTS certification training and provide more value to our reseller and integrator partners.
Melody: Can you give an example of how having your CTS certification has helped you on the job?
Maureen: Not too long ago, I was at an industry trade show and an attendee started a conversation with me about a project. This person seemed to be mocking me as if I didn’t understand what they were saying until someone came up behind me and whispered over my shoulder “she’s CTS certified.” The attendee said “Oohhhh” and the tone of the conversation immediately changed. Their opinion of how they were going to communicate the details of their project completely shifted and I got the real story about the mechanics behind everything, instead of just a birds-eye view. And I was able to provide valuable input based on my training.
Melody: What do you think are the greatest benefits to AVIXA membership?
Maureen: There are so many! As far as education goes, there are countless valuable courses available free of cost, which is helpful because the further you go into education of any kind, the more expensive it can become! With an AVIXA membership, you are also part of a close-knit community of professionals with a common interest – they become a support group and a sounding board when you need answers. It’s refreshing to know there is a credible group of AV professionals already assembled. It makes sense to want to join forces with them and become a part of this team.
Melody: What is your involvement in the Women’s Council?
Maureen: I began by meeting with the Women’s Council chapter based in DC. But it’s a bit of a drive and the truth is there are already so many talented AV professionals right here in Baltimore. I applied for a chapter here and am currently in the process of selecting officers. There are so many options and paths a professional can take in this industry – it doesn’t have to be technical. We have AV women in sales, marketing, editorial and other thought leadership positions. The AVIXA Women’s council is really a family within a family. I feel that being part of an AVIXA Women’s Council will definitely enrich your career.
More details about the AVIXA Women’s Council events can be found here.
Learn ways to connect locally with other women in Pro AV here.