Photo from New Years Eve 2021


As the fireworks start to go off around the world and we all look forward to what 2021 has in store, we are reflecting on a year that none of us saw coming, and which has challenged us to re-examine everything that we know. At the heart of what we do are people – Individuals looking at their own development and career journeys as well as teams working for great brands and businesses. This will continue as we head into the New Year, as businesses start to find renewed momentum, focus and hopefully growth, depending on great individuals working effectively in high-performing teams. But for a minute, we’d like to look back, remember and share some of our particular highlights from 2020.

The year started with the usual energy, camaraderie, music and noise in Anaheim at Namm2020 when there was no real hint of what lay in store for the world. “Bigger and better than ever” is how we billed it at the time, although that’s a little hard to remember now. Hot of the heels of winter Namm, came ISE, and the last time for this now immense show in Amsterdam. The weather played its part to disrupt proceedings at the start and Coronavirus was only really a passing sideshow, with certain Chinese companies staying away and travel restrictions imposed by a small number of others. But 24 hours in, the ISE2020 was as active and busy as ever with all the talk being about consolidation within the maturing AV solutions and integrator market. All of this overshadowing the rapid changes that were to come in the weeks that followed.

In March, our friends at Pro AVL Central took time out before the first UK lockdown kicked in to visit our offices in South West London to meet with Isabelle Wear and Jo Hutchins. Together with Pro AVL’s Sue Gould, they chatted about the role of women in the industry, how it has evolved, and the opportunities available to women in audio, video and lighting in 2020.

The Role of Women In Today’s AV Industry podcast with Sue, Isabelle and Jo was featured in the first of our Weekly News Updates which we published as March rolled into April. We have continued to produce for these weekly updates for the whole of the rest of 2020, sharing a selection of relevant technology, staffing and business news from around the world.

For the next few weeks, we were trying to take in the enormity of what was starting to transpire around us across the industry and in the wider world. Overnight, recruitment became an irrelevance, and quickly it was clear that as our industry’s lights went out, our many friends and clients around the world would need a very different kind of support. Initially our focus turned to taking action to protect the business through an uncertain time ahead and support our team where we could. Small business financial support from the government together with the Job Retention ‘furlough’ Scheme as well the support of a number of our key suppliers allowed us to steer a path through those choppy and unclear waters and for all of this we are extremely grateful.

After the cancellation of MusikMesse and Prolight and Sound in Frankfurt at the start of April, we watched with close interest as NAB was the first of the big tradeshows to take on the challenge of relaunching itself into the virtual domain. Other events that followed included the virtual European Audio Engineering Society Convention in Vienna in May and the larger scale Infocomm online event and sessions in June. We wrote about these and the wider issues and challenges of the virtual tradeshow in our series of articles Tradeshows In The New Universe and Part 2: Lessons From The Show Floor.

During this time we were very aware of the shock and disruption that our clients and other businesses across the entertainment technology, and Pro AV sectors were experiencing and in May we launched our Market Temperature Check survey to examine how people and businesses were seeing the outlook in their own sector and regional focus, and also gauge what attitudes there were towards the continued investment, development and support in individuals and teams. Thank you to all who took part in the survey, a summary of the results of which can be found here.  

As we moved into the summer we continued to take stock of what our clients were going through, whilst also attempting to provide support where we could to individuals who were surrounded by new uncertainties. Of particular concern during this time, has been the plight of the young and those just looking to start out in their careers. After studying or training, it has been especially difficult for these people to suddenly be facing an industry where the usual demand for new talent appears to have suddenly evaporated. Through the year we have continued to work with the next generation of young talent looking to come into the industry and in June, Isabelle again worked with the University of Le Mans to support students on the International Masters Degree in ElectroAcoustics Programme through a series of career development sessions. Later in November we were again invited to participate in the Production Futures event in the UK which took place online this year where Richard and Dani delivered a number of interactive group career sessions with aspiring production managers, lighting and sound engineers.  

A little earlier in the year Richard was invited to speak with the Leaders Council of Great Britain and Northern Ireland where he had an opportunity to highlight the immense challenges faced by the live events industry whilst at the same time speaking about how as a recruitment business we have been trying hard to provide support where we can through these difficult times. You can here the whole of this interview as a podcast here In Conversation: Richard Wear. For any cricket fans out there, the second part of this episode features an interview with former England captain and now chairman of selectors Andrew Strauss!

Continuing to look at how we can best support those already in roles and looking to develop their careers, this time with a focus on R&D, in September Jo published a very useful article on a subject that we often find ourselves talking about with engineers, the dilemma of whether and when to look to transition from the bench to the manager’s desk – When to transition from technical to leadership.

Most recently, Isabelle and Richard were honoured to be invited to participate in the #WeMakeEvents Speakeasy sessions where we met up with PLASA MD Peter Heath of PLASA and Meg Hastings of 2Can Productions Ltd for a series of career support chats sharing tips for CVs, applying for jobs,  interviews and longer term career planning. These sessions will be going live within the Speakeasy platform early in the New Year.

Throughout the year, Bardy, Jo, Isabelle and Richard have all continued to work with clients and individuals around the world, and although the volume of activity has been dramatically down we are still proud to have placed a number of people into some key strategic roles, in China, Europe, the UK and in the US across R&D, sales, marketing and product management. It has probably never been more satisfying as it has during this year to help individuals discover and secure their next role and to help businesses find and hire a key member into their team. A selection of searches we have worked on in recent months can be found here and we are excitedly looking forward to what 2021 has in store.

We know that people and teams will continue more than ever to be at the heart of business success and with this in mind we are putting the final touches to a series of new ‘InTeams’ programs that Isabelle will be rolling out in the New Year. More to come very soon on this….

In closing, we would like to thank our team and all of our friends, customers and partners around the world for your support.  

Wishing you all a happy, healthy and positive year ahead.

Isabelle and Richard Wear