Spotlight Q&A: A Chat with the Chairman of the CEDIA PDAC

Ed Wenck | Jul 07, 2020
PDAC 2020 450CEDIA: What’s the mission statement of the Professional Development Advisory Council?

Mal Fisher: It’s best if I just read it for you: “The PDAC serves as the global voice of industry to the education team at CEDIA. This globally focused advisory board works with staff to develop new channels of business for education advisors on topics for the education portfolio, identify as current and future skill needs and manages the working groups of the PDAC.“

CEDIA: What working groups report to the PDAC?

Fisher: That includes the Technical Education Working Group, Business Working Group, Instructor Working group, and the Workforce Development Working Group.

CEDIA: How often do you all meet, and what’s the primary point of discussion lately?

Fisher: We meet once per month, varying the meeting time to accommodate the wide variety of time zones for our PDAC members. It’s the most diverse group ever in terms of global representation.

We're trying to build a body of knowledge that can be used irrespective of events. We’ve got to shore up the content base and improve the educational platform that CEDIA provides. In a given meeting, we could be discussing a technical topic, Wi-Fi 6 perhaps, or a business class. We’re often discussing ideas that people have brought into the group that they think would be a valid topic for education — or the process of the education itself. What format are we using to deliver the material? How are we making certain that curriculum is ensuring competency? 

CEDIA: What have been the biggest gains the PDAC’s made of late?

Fisher: The launch of the CEDIA Academy has taken a huge team effort over the past few years and I’m proud of the contribution that the PDAC has made, even if it’s minor compared to that of the staff.

CEDIA: Couldn’t agree more. What’s the next big challenge?

Fisher: Ensuring the virtual CEDIA Expo Experience is on point when it comes to education – we’re creating two days of learning in a medium we’ve not used before. In the next 10 weeks we’ll be asking a lot of volunteers to really go above and beyond.

This pandemic has been quite something. Back in early March I’d put together several pages of notes of what I’d hoped to achieve – and then within two weeks 90% of it become almost irrelevant.

CEDIA: What’s the best part about volunteering for CEDIA?

The sheer amount you learn in this process is far more than you're ever going to teach. You're listening to voices from all over the industry, from manufacturers to distributors to all levels of integrators. Many of those voices become valuable contacts and above all, friends. And getting such a broad range of industry feedback is incredibly valuable for both what you do with CEDIA and in your own role at your day job. I’d encourage our industry to offer time what they can, as they’ll get far more in return.

The other benefit is being able to work closely with the CEDIA staff. After getting to know all these people in the education and workforce departments, you suddenly understand why they're in the position they’re in — and how qualified they are for that position.

There’s one more thing I’d like to add – it’s something I think people should know about: There are dozens and dozens of volunteers who never appear on a podcast or a webinar. They’re the quiet volunteers. The remarkable amount that those individuals contribute to our association and industry should be celebrated.

(Editor’s note: As of June 1, 2020, there were more than 145 member volunteers serving in the CEDIA working groups, advisory councils, committees, and the Board of Directors.)

Mal Fisher is the CTO of AWE Europe LTD