When Essam Refai, CTS®-D, CTS-I, started his professional AV/ICT career in 2010, little did he know that within less than a decade, he would become a dual CTS credential holder—one of currently only six in the Oceania region. Essam holds great passion for technology and the AV industry. His drive and professional achievements eventually led to him being selected in 2018 for the prestigious AVIXA Young AV Professional Award in Oceania. Find out how this senior audiovisual engineer currently in the services of Aurecon in Melbourne, nurtured his ambitions and found professional success by becoming CTS certified.

Essam Refai, CTS®-D, CTS-I | AVIXA Essam Refai, CTS®-D, CTS-I

AVIXA: What were your reasons to earn the CTS certifications?

Refai: In my opinion, a combination of self-education and hands-on experience are the way to excel in the AV industry. When I started my CTS journey in 2014, I wanted to earn it as a professional accreditation. Shortly after successfully earning my CTS – General in June 2014, I decided to take it further, so I started working on my CTS-D exam. I went back into studying, this time attending the CTS-D exam online prep course and the AV math online courses. The CTS-D exam was quite tough, but I made it and became the first Egyptian to hold the CTS-D credential. Adding the CTS-I to these accreditations was a logical step, especially because the installation and design aspects both reflected and matched my professional experience within the AV and ICT sectors. I earned the CTS-I in 2017.

AVIXA: What did you find most challenging on your CTS journey?

Refai: For me, the CTS-D was the most challenging of all three exams, despite having plenty of hands-on experience. The exam challenges your knowledge and experience, so you have to prepare well. I did so by attending with AVIXA™’s CTS-D Prep Virtual Classroom, completing self-study courses including AV Math for Design Online. AVIXA’s resources were definitely very helpful, but in addition you have to commit a lot of self-study time. It took me in total three months of part-time studying before I was ready to sit for the exam.

AVIXA: Do you remember how you celebrated your accomplishments?

Refai: Although I was really glad about passing the CTS exam, I consider passing the CTS-D exam as the first milestone in my career. At that time, I was a technical manager at Quality Integrated Systems (QIS), setting up their new branch in Qatar. It was definitely a challenging time. So yes, I do remember well that I celebrated it with my wife, who supported me 100 percent throughout the journey of spending extra hours after work to prepare for this exam.

AVIXA: How do the CTS credentials help you professionally?

Refai: I believe that CTS credentials serve as a benchmark, especially in such a unique industry where it is tough to set yourself apart from your peers. I found that on the business side of things, clients feel more confident knowing their projects are being managed by an industry-acknowledged professional. I have had clients who have asked for only CTS-D certified personnel to manage their design process! As a matter of fact, I feel that I can truly apply detailed technical and project management knowledge to actual projects. My knowledge gained from studying for the CTS-D and CTS-I especially has allowed me to minimize risk in projects, as well as deliver the intended user experience to clients.

AVIXA: What advice do you have for those who are considering taking the CTS accreditation?

Refai: I highly recommend working toward earning the AVIXA certification. The AV industry is changing rapidly, so it becomes more and more necessary to acknowledge your skills to progress in your career. Hopefully we will see as many certified professionals as possible in this industry. I strongly believe that it is required to drive current and future changes. I would love to see all clients understand the importance of the CTS credentials.

AVIXA: In 2018, you won the AVIXA Oceania Young Professional of the Year Award. What was your reaction, when you found out?

Refai: I was really happy and still am! Winning such a great award in a personally and professionally challenging period of my life, after having moved to Australia only two years earlier, made me really happy, grateful and excited for the future. Besides earning the CTS credentials, I had the vision of being further recognised within the industry, so the award came at the right time.