Course: Electronics (Studio Systems Engineering)
Year of Graduation: 1992
When I was looking at different courses, I knew I wanted hands on learning with industry specific topics and real equipment. Most courses I looked at were dated and just not relevant enough. We had some great tutors at Ravensbourne, including industry legend John Lisney, whose vivas on TV fundamentals I particularly feared, the irrepressible Roger Conway, who shared a real-world approach to everything we did and Jeremy Barr, who taught us engineers that there was a creative aspect to everything we touched.
We were lucky to be studying when Ravensbourne changed campus within Chislehurst, as we effectively got to be involved in decommissioning a TV station and then building a new one. The original campus was very intimate and the studio was just for TV. We were a tight student body who really immersed ourselves in what we were doing. I still see many of my classmates, they are friends, colleagues and customers - we've generally stayed in touch.
I won a scholarship with Sony Broadcast while studying at Ravensbourne. Sony had a partnership with the university and offered two places to students every year. I applied, and went through several interviews. They obviously saw something in that naive young student! It was an incredible opportunity - I learnt so much. In my first summer placement I got to build one of the first SDI edit suites in Europe and got to use cutting edge equipment from the beginning. It showed me there were other career paths alongside working for broadcasters and post-production houses.
I’m currently working as the chief technical officer (CTO) at Boxer Systems - it’s been around since 1990, providing solutions for broadcast, post-production and film. My job is very varied. I have specific company roles looking after my teams (I'm lucky to work with some great people) but am often also working directly with customers. I look at their needs and work with them to develop workflows and use various technologies to solve their problems. I get to work with some great startups as well as long-term partner companies on their products, helping introduce them to the European market. One of the most enjoyable aspects of my job is working on new technologies and acting as an evangelist to help bring them to market.
Staying relevant is the most challenging aspect of my job and I’m always learning. Technology changes all the time. You need to stay open to new ideas and work out what will make people's lives better. At the same time, change for change’s sake doesn't work either.
I’d encourage current students to get a good grounding in everything, but remember it's hard to employ an engineer/producer/director/writer. Be mindful that you may need to specialise at some point! Try to find something you love, and stick with it!