Getting To Know… Tony Szabo

This week, Tony Szabo, director of applications, touring, EMEA at L-Acoustics, takes the hot seat for our Getting To Know interview…

How did you get into the industry?
Seriously? Well, how far should I go back? At school I looked after the AV equipment in the library because I loved the hi tech. BTW the video camera was black and white and had a thick umbilical cable to a reel to reel video tape machine! Seriously cool and high tech at the time.

At Uni, my good mate John was a drummer in a band doing ’60s covers. I mixed their sound for beer money. All the band were at various Unis in Sydney. That band got to support bigger bands. Soon enough I worked for the bigger band… and so on. If you love what you do and you are a hard worker, then things tend to fall in to place.

What was your first job?
In the industry? So not the takeaway chicken shop? Or Gerry’s BBQ? In this industry it was doing sound for a band called Nemo. Original music, not covers. Lovely people. The ’60s covers band had more work though.

What does your working day look like?
Just in case my employer reads this, I need to make it look like it is really hard and long hours, so here goes: On a good day, up at 6am, gym from 6:30 to 7:30, shower and ready to start at 8:15, but I don’t tell anyone I am starting that early as that way I get 45 mins without interruptions (like yeah, as if that still happens). By the way, this is all true, not just for the boss.

I’m an enabler for the EMEA Applications team (touring, of course). They are all top notch, smart, experienced characters. That is why I’d rather say I am an enabler (not a manager) as I am here to help them achieve their goals. So this means online meetings when they are after some help or reassurance. I like the face-to-face meetings with each of them. I also have meetings with the regional sales managers who are also very much like our application engineers, all top notch people with a wealth of experience in the industry. I’m always learning something from them or from their boss (I mean, their enabler).

Before March, it could be up to two weeks per month in Paris at our HQ, a week somewhere else in the world and a week in the home office. It is great to host clients in our HQ, show them the facilities, enjoy a meal and/or a beer. The same goes for the visits to clients at their own premises. It’s always good to catch up and learn about the nuances of their locality and hear their stories.

What is your favourite thing about the pro audio industry?
That’s a hard one. The people are up at the top of the list, but the high end tech gear is also a major draw. Can I pick two favourites?

The camaraderie of everyone in the industry is great, whether they are clients or other manufacturers or even competitors. That’s what brings the long-term enjoyment. We are like a very large (dysfunctional) family. I love it.

And your least favourite thing?
Seriously, there is nothing that bad that makes you want to leave it. Not printable anyway…

What is the achievement/project you are most proud of?
Wow that’s a hard one, too. I’m proud of everything. I was one of the principle audio engineers on the Sydney Olympics 2000, Opening and Closing Ceremonies. That was hard work but also a proud moment with a few billion people watching the live broadcast. We had many talented and dedicated people in our midst too.

As for tours, David Bowie’s last world tour was amazing. The best music, the best boss (David) a great FOH Engineer to hand your PA over to (Pete Keppler) and one of the best crews I’ve worked with (too many names to list).

What do you like to do outside of work?
On a good day I’m up at 6AM…   Who am I fooling? On the weekend it is up at 8 or 9. I’m a tech head of course, so technology (or gadgets) is always around. I also like to read books, but can also go months without reading one. I like to mountain bike. I like to BBQ – there is the Aussie side of me finally coming out.