Embracing the Community of Women in AV

As Director of Learning and Development at the digital workplace services provider AVI-SPL, Sherri Beck is passionate about encouraging employees to enhance their skill set and achieve greater success personally and professionally.

Sherri Beck, Director of Learning and Development, AVI-SPL | AVIXASherri Beck
Director of Learning and Development

A relative newcomer to the AV industry, Beck previously worked as a learning and development executive in the cable TV industry for 16 years and, prior to that, was a corporate trainer in the telecommunications industry.

As in her previous positions, at AVI-SPL she is responsible for connecting employees to the training they need to help them better perform their jobs and improve their overall satisfaction.

“For many job titles in our organization we have an associated learning plan that includes AVIXA™ training and AV manufacturer training,” Beck says. “We want our employees to have the skills and knowledge they need, when they want it. That includes maintaining their AVIXA CTS® qualification.”

In 2018, when she started at AVI-SPL, Beck took advantage of AVIXA’s Quick Start to the AV Industry training to get her up and running. A “welcome” email from AVIXA on her first day on the job helped her feel a part of the AV industry, she says, and she was encouraged to learn about the different volunteer opportunities available for members.

“I was particularly excited to read that the AV industry has a women’s career development and leadership organization, the AVIXA Women’s Council, and right out of the gate I wanted to get more involved. I had been very involved with women’s leadership in my last role,” she says. “I think it’s vital to encourage more women to learn about technology and get involved in that technology because it’s the way of the future.”

Over the past year, Beck has become actively involved with the Tampa Local Group of the Women’s Council, meeting and networking with other women in AV in the area as well as participating in the council’s Career Empowerment Alliance. “I’m fueled by building off each other’s ideas, sharing ideas, and being catalysts for change,” she says, explaining that attracting more talent to the industry, particularly women, is a driving force for her.

Sherri Beck, Director of Learning and Development, AVI-SPL | AVIXASherri Beck at AVIXA's Fairfax office, Director of Learning and Development, AVI-SPL

“When it comes to applying for jobs, women often sell themselves short, as they tend to focus on their lack of qualifications or experience. We have higher expectations of ourselves or we might not have built up enough confidence in our skill sets. I tell people: You are qualified! Apply for the job! What’s the worst thing that can happen? I think it’s helpful for women to hear those kinds of perspectives and the different things we can do to help ourselves move to the next level and bring other women into the industry.”

Mentorship is something she encourages other women to become involved in, having benefited from mentors in her own career and from mentoring others.

“That’s another reason why the Women’s Council is so valuable. It’s helpful to have someone not involved in your organization who you can share information with and get unbiased viewpoints. It creates a safe environment for you to problem solve, get feedback, or hear different perspectives,” she says.

Having experienced a layoff after 16 years with the same company, Beck shares that having a network of women to call upon was a lifeline and vital for getting her back on her feet and ready to pursue new opportunities. One of her missions at AVI-SPL is to create awareness among employees and talk about the value and benefits of the AVIXA Women’s Council.

“Our company’s membership in the Women’s Council was surprisingly low, so I’ve been recruiting others to join — not only women, but men too. If men are involved and understand some of the struggles women have in our industry, they can help women have confidence, negotiate, and take risks that we may not otherwise have taken. We definitely need their support as well!” she says.

To young women considering a career in the AV industry, Beck advises they look around at the AV that is everywhere. “Technology doesn’t have to be scary. You don’t need to be an engineer to be involved with it. Men and women, and even little kids, use this technology every day. The industry is growing and it’s exciting and there are so many different roles within it, some that require a technical background or aptitude, and some that don’t. It’s a case of finding your niche.”

More about the Women’s Council here.