The future is now and this year’s class of SCN The Nine is ready for it.
They’re bold—they take risks, like Matt Gajowniczek did starting his integration company when he was still a college student.
They seek to build relationships, but do it differently than those who have come before them. The majority of this year’s class is active in the #AVTweeps community on social media and have met prospective customers, employers, and mentors because of it. Just ask Kev Talbot, who has seen his network grow twofold since he began actively participating in industry Twitter chats.
They seek to understand. All of them spoke of the importance of listening to clients, coworkers, and partners to create the best AV experiences possible. Many of them—like Mike Brandes and Dayna Baumann—spend the majority of their days problem-solving and striving to exceed client expectations.
They believe hustle and heart will set them apart. Each and every one of The Nine is extremely hardworking and passionate about what they do, in the workplace and at home. This year’s class is talented in many ways—in terms of their career potential and their hobbies—and grinds like no other to continue doing what they love.
Meet 2019's Class of The Nine
Name: Dayna Baumann
Title: Customer Relationship Manager
Company: Control Concepts
Why You Need to Know Her: Dayna Baumann, 34, joined the AV industry four short years ago, but she has firmly implanted herself in the community in that time. As Control Concepts’ customer relationship manager, she is tasked with facilitating warm, strong, and loyal relationships, and she’s managed to do just that. “I am passionate about the AV industry because I feel it is an industry that is always relevant, exciting, and filled with camaraderie,” said Baumann. “It boils down to feeling secure and confident that it is a wise investment for my professional footprint.”
Name: Mike Brandes, CTS
Title: Product Manager—Q-SYS Video Solutions
Why You Need to Know Him: Mike Brandes, CTS, is a transformer, and not the kind you’ll find in a Hollywood blockbuster. “I’m incredibly passionate about solving problems and transforming things in general. The AV industry is no different,” said Brandes, age 32. “The industry affords a ton of opportunity for people, but comes with its own pain points and threats.”
It’s Brandes’ passion for problem-solving that allows him to work alongside the AV community to bring new ideas to the table and new products to market. As QSC’s product manager for Q-SYS video solutions, Brandes spends the majority of his time speaking with customers—from tech managers to integrators—to discover pain points in installations, and then working with a team of engineers to develop “products, features, and services that can alleviate these pain points and grow QSC as the leading provider of end-to-end audio, video, and control systems for professional AV.”
Name: Brandon Breznick
Title: Associate Communications Manager
Company: Premier Mounts
Why You Need to Know Him: Brandon Breznick, 24, is hungry and eager to play his role in pushing the AV industry forward with his creative vision. “The biggest reason I am so passionate about the AV industry is because I want more people to take notice about how large-scale AV projects come together. Many of my friends and colleagues that I graduated with were interested in working in ‘the tech industry’ upon graduating; none, however, were interested in AV,” said Breznick. “After spending time in the industry and understanding the technical expertise that it takes for successful ventures to come together, I believe that young graduates would be extremely interested in AV jobs if there was better marketing to help spread the message and capabilities that the industry offers.”
Name: Matt Gajowniczek
Title: President, Founder
Company: Sound, Production & Lighting
Why You Need to Know Him: In 2009, while still a college student, Matt Gajowniczek started Sound, Production & Lighting (SPL). After earning a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in lighting design in 2011, Gajowniczek wanted to move beyond working community theater gigs. He branched out to embrace innovative approaches in the rental and staging market with immediate success. His client list is comprised of heavy hitters Nike (including a pop-up shop/interactive space at the 2019 Super Bowl), MillerCoors, and the Make-A-Wish foundation. Recently, Gajowniczek—now age 30—set his sights on expanding into pro AV fixed installations, and he’s making quite a name for himself.
Name: Kyle Kennedy
Title: Help Desk Manager
Company: Video Corp. of America
Why You Need to Know Him: Sometimes in life, personality informs vocation. One case in point is Kyle Kennedy, help desk manager at Video Corp. of America (VCA). Kennedy has pursued a lifelong desire to continually learn about all aspects of business, as well as a heartfelt passion to help people solve problems. In his current role, he does both exceptionally.
Name: Jesse Scarborough
Why You Need to Know Him: At 26, Jesse Scarborough is one of the youngest bearers of the industry’s “two-headed unicorn”: AVIXA’s CTS-D and CTS-I professional designations. For Scarborough, they give him credibility, and in his current role as design engineer at Diversified, he’s used much of what he learned in these two programs.
Name: Meg Sciarini Smith
Title: AV Systems Engineer
Company: A major Silicon Valley corporation
Why You Need to Know Her: “I’m plucky comic relief!” Meg Sciarini Smith, age 31, chuckled. “I have ideas, and I have stories I want to tell, and I want to use the coolest, best, and right technology for the solution.”
Name: Samantha Taczynski
Company: NEC Display Solutions
Why You Need to Know Her: Taczynski has hit the ground running since joining NEC and the AV industry in mid-2018. She has earned her DSDE, DSCE, and DCME, is a co-leader of the Chicago area chapter of the AVIXA Women’s Council, and is a member of Women of Digital Signage.
Name: Kev Talbot
Title: Head of Technical Sales
Company: Involve Visual Collaboration
Why You Need to Know Him: As an industry, we spend a lot of time talking AV and IT. Kev Talbot, age 34, lived it. “I’d always wanted to work in IT, but after three years of desktop and network support, I hated it and needed to change—so when AV came about, I jumped in,” Talbot recalled. “I love how different everything can be. The kit can get a bit samey, but delivering on someone else’s vision and seeing that end product just makes you smile.”
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SCN The Nine 2019