Meet the Panelist: Josh Henning of Etsy

Meet the Panelist: Josh Henning of Etsy

For the third year in a row, SCN has partnered with SYMCO to present technology user panels at the manufacturer rep’s Regional Technology Showcases in Boston and New York City during October. Details and registration are available here.

  • On October 22, the tech showcase lands in New York City. Let’s catch up with one of the panelists.

Josh Henning is the manager of AV at Etsy, where he has led a team effort to quickly and efficiently scale conferencing, events, and webcasting technology and operations as the company has grown from a start-up to a global public enterprise. In addition to following trends in technology, Josh believes that open communication, creative thinking, sustainability, and empathy are essential in providing the best AV solutions and support for fellow Etsians.

Before joining Etsy, Josh worked in streaming operations for ESPN3 at MLB Advanced Media. He began his career in Chicago, where he produced short commercial web videos on LEED building projects, and directed a grant-funded documentary on industrial emissions, environment, and community.

What has been the most surprising shift in technology since your career began?

I guess my simple answer is the importance of streaming media. It's something I kind of fell into while working for the University of Illinois AV team back when RealPlayer was still a thing and YouTube was a novelty site for pirated TV shows. Webcasting and VOD solutions are now essential AV. However, my sincere — and somewhat cloying — answer is that AV technology has become easy enough to operate that it's made more sense for me to hire great communicators and creative thinkers that align with Etsy's values than to look for people with specific hardware/software experience. Teammates and contractors that understand how to craft what our community needs, with sustainability and efficiency in mind, impress me more than those with the coolest new tech ideas.

What is the biggest change you're seeing in the workflow within your organization?

In less than two years, we've quickly gone from four VC systems in New York to 54 global ones. People were once impressed with their basic functionality and convenience, but now room systems are heavily relied upon. We've become a larger and more global company, meetings include more people, and it's tougher to just switch to a laptop if a room system has issues. We've been moving toward better monitoring solutions and improved audio hardware.

What do you think of when you think of AV technology?

Images of projectors and classroom overheads still come to mind [laughs], but AV technology is everywhere you look or listen now. I still consider it all production tools to help people communicate their messages more clearly and effectively.

What technology is the next must-have within your organization?

I'm pretty excited to roll out a room reservation tool for the new headquarters we'll be moving into next year. We have an open office floor plan, which is great, but it puts conference room space at a premium. We're frequently opening our laptops in hallways to see if we have a room booked, or if the empty one we're standing near is open for something ad hoc. Touchscreens that integrate with our Gcal system will be a relief for us. Motion sensors that can release rooms, and make sure we're saving energy on lighting, will make it even better.

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