Advanced Systems Group was honored to have Ivan Lochan interviewed by Megan A. Dutta, Editor in Chief of LAVNCH [CODE] DeCoded. In the interview, Ivan shares that ASG starts with creating an optimal environment for ASG employees. Learning and dialogue circles, internal workshops, employee surveys, team building, and more are on the horizon to nurture inclusion and brilliance at ASG.
We recently had the pleasure of interviewing Andrea Thomas, Client Account Manager with Advanced Systems Group (ASG) – Managed Services group. Her extensive consulting and recruiting experience support the growing staffing and service needs of ASG’s media and entertainment clients. As Client Account Manager, Andrea helps to maintain relationships with existing accounts and assists new clients through the entire onboarding process. Her role closely aligns with the Managed Services group’s mission to facilitate each client’s specific business challenges from building a production studio, planning and executing a live, in-person or remote event, or providing creative support on a project-to-project basis. In this interview, we get to dig a little deeper into Andrea’s position at ASG, her background, and learn a little something most of us do not know about her! Andrea considers herself a partner of ASG’s clients, supporting their own development and requirements while helping drive ASG’s growth in the Managed Services realm.
Q1: Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your background
My career spans both the recruiting and consulting worlds across several industries including Cloud AI, healthcare, clean technology, and media & entertainment, among others. I have always found satisfaction in assisting companies around the globe find the pain points, isolate their challenges, and then helping them build successful teams through recruitment, streamlining and developing solutions, or other tactics.
Q2: Please give us more insight into your role at ASG
I joined ASG three years ago initially in a recruiting role, which quite quickly shifted to something more expansive covering multiple roles within the company. With the rapid growth of ASG’s Managed Services division and the demand for our services, we started wearing multiple hats to meet this demand. We now have more recruitment, finance, account management and resource teams in place to support this growth. Based in the Bay Area in California, my role is now to manage new customer accounts around the world, building and managing core relationships with our existing clients, and bridging gaps with our clients’ staffing, resource and even technology needs. This partnership also includes making sure our clients are aware of all the professional managed services we offer; regardless of whether they’re looking for short or long-term staffing, ad-hoc project based or flexible workforce models. I really like to present myself as a partner to our clients, connecting them to all aspects of the ASG business.
Q3: Can you please offer your thoughts (and predictions if you will) on industry shifts and trends in the coming years?
We are currently seeing an influx of activity as our clients prepare budgets for the coming year and beyond. As our clients ramp up their projects, decide on their staffing and team needs, and work on the various stages of new buildouts of production studios and other facilities, we are simultaneously ramping up our teams in preparation for this demand trend. In some cases, we’re expecting even more activity than pre-pandemic times, partly driven by the fact that clients can now see what else is possible with remote environments and remote production.
Q4: Let’s get a little more personal now if we may; please tell us something most people don’t know about you
I have a great love of dance, which I am incredibly passionate about. I am really fortunate to have enjoyed a variety of dance experiences performing with local artists such as Manuel Romero and Xavier Toscano, or back-up dancing for American rappers, e40 and Snoop Dogg, and dancing in performances for our local Filipino channel. I’ve been dancing for most of my life – and still do – across all styles and have been part of a competitive hip-hop team for over ten years. Dancing is truly my creative outlet.
In November 2019, Steve Young joined Advanced Systems Group as head of system design and integration. He is based in the company’s main office in Emeryville, CA. The industry veteran spent more than 15 years with Sony Electronics. As the director of system solutions, he managed the Sony Professional Solutions Project Delivery Group. He also spent two years as COO for David Carroll Associates.
Q: How did you become interested in systems integration?
A: I have always been a builder of things. I had a soldering iron by the time I was 10, and I would build things with switches and lights. When I started my career, I was on the operational side of the business, working with different artists in the recording industry. That’s when I discovered there was a whole industry dedicated to building and designing the systems I was using every day. When the recording industry started shifting to low-cost digital recording, I moved to system design and integration.
Q: What were some of the interesting projects you worked on during your career?
A: My first project for Sony was project manager for a facility they were building in Tokyo. It was an urban entertainment complex featuring interactive gaming and a lot of AV. The project took a year and a half, and I served as a liaison between the Japanese workers and the U.S. designers and systems engineers.
When I returned home, I started as a project proposal manager with Sony’s systems integration group, which was primarily focused on the major broadcast networks. I learned a lot there, because their standards were basically setting the standards for the broadcast integration industry at that time. I also had the opportunity to work on the system design and security protocols for Sony’s very first digital cinema systems deployed in theaters.
Q: What do many people misunderstand about systems integration?
A: The order of operations – how you move from a concept to a conceptual design and budget, then move forward with a more detailed design, follow that with a project plan, and conclude with delivery and installation. When people don’t follow the process, the project becomes more challenging than it needs to be. That’s why you need a strong relationship with a company like ASG. We manage the process and keep the order of operations intact.
Q: What are some of the new trends you’re seeing in the industry?
A: The most obvious trend over the past year has been remote production. Clients are trying to figure out what operations can be done remotely versus what has to be done on site – and what does that mean for physical plant design? Right now, it’s less about 4K or HD and more about how to adopt remote production workflows and maintain a limited footprint in the studio. Not only can we help answer those questions, but ASG now offers our Virtual Production Control Room, so our clients can produce real-time coverage of live events with no on-prem services required.
Q: How can ASG help organizations looking to build new facilities or refresh existing systems?
A: There is so much new technology out there, from cloud solutions to video-over-IP, and all of it is relatively young in its lifecycle. Selecting the solution that is going to meet your business needs and be reliable requires experience and due diligence. ASG’s approach is built around both, with the goal of establishing lasting partnerships. With so many different workflows to consider, this is not the time to choose a company that just wants to deliver and disappear.
Collyer Spreen joined Advanced Systems Group in October 2020 as a sales engineer for the audio team. A Pro Tools expert, he spent more than seven years as a pro audio solutions specialist for Avid Technology. He is based in Dallas and continues to work as a freelance recording engineer through his company, Soundasleep Productions.
What drew you to audio technology?
I’ve played drums since I was six years old. I built my first set of drums out of Charles Chips cardboard tubs – I turned them upside down and they became drums. Growing up listening to vinyl, I became a particularly focused listener. That led me to wanting to learn how to make those sounds myself.
How did your career progress as a professional musician?
I played my way through high school and college with various bands, and then I moved to New York City and became a recording engineer. After two years, I moved to California, and within nine months I had another studio job.
About this time, MIDI appeared, and I became really good as a MIDI programmer. Actually, I had moved to L.A. to be a drummer, but I also realized that drum machines were here to stay – so I figured I’d better learn how to program these things or I was going to be out of a job! I hooked up with Starship as their MIDI programmer during their Knee Deep in the Hoopla tour, and wound up working with them for four albums and tours.
What sparked your interest in Pro Tools?
I was literally there in the golden hour of perfect sunlight of audio as it transitioned from analog to digital. After the music industry started to change to home studios in the late 90s, I decided I could do what I did anywhere, so I moved back to Texas. Pro Tools hit the market, and I started to learn the technology, which I used as a post engineer for commercial and episodic TV for 15 years.
Around 2010, I was laid off – but within six months I was hired by Avid as a Pro Tools and workflow specialist. That was an incredible experience on so many levels, and reconnected me with so many people that I had lost touch with when I moved to Texas. Joining ASG was a good opportunity for me to gain some stability with a company that has thrived and grown during the pandemic.
What do you think is the next “big thing” in audio?
Audio over IP is on a significant growth curve – networked audio is an important part of studio infrastructure. There’s also a going to be a lot of continued growth in immersive audio, which is still defining itself. With immersive audio, it’s like being in a pool of sound, and you can put yourself anywhere in that pool. Dolby Atmos is the leading format, but there are many competing formats from other companies. It’s just going to continue to develop.
How can ASG help with today’s audio challenges?
The pandemic forced the industry to accelerate the adoption of working from home business models. That’s where the industry was going anyway, but the time is now instead of five years from now. Unfortunately, the pandemic put a lot of people on the curb instead of the highway of progress. We decided to get in front of the challenges of remote production workflows and solve them.