Jon Haworth has seen it all at Riverview. Beginning his career in 1995 as a truck driver, and after just two months found himself quickly promoted to video tech, which led to his current role as Senior Technical Director overseeing show management, involving the delicate balancing act of properly allocating the company’s vast technical, creative staffing resources, as well as basic account management, making sure clients are happy with the final result.
As Haworth notes, “The best part of working here is that there’s always something new to learn. Riverview is on the leading-edge in investing in new technology because it is important for our clients that we stay on the forefront so we can make the right recommendations. We’re also rich in our internal resources. I’m proud of the fact that a lot of those folks have been with us for a long time. That says a lot about CEO Evan Williams and the culture he’s created.”
And like so many other Riverview team members, in his spare time Jon is a musician (a bass player to be exact) and when he’s not managing the plethora of client demands he can be found performing (one gig was at Williams’ daughter’s wedding in 2016), or mountain biking in the great outdoors of Northern California or whatever far-flung location his job takes him.
Q: Your business card says Senior Technical Director. What does that actually entail?
JH: Well, in the industry a technical director is responsible for all aspects of production. I consider myself more of a resource manager making sure that all of the departments involved in a project have the equipment and personnel that they need, and clients get the deliverables that they have requested.
My job is also inclusive of account management duties, and for larger Riverview productions can even take on more of an account exec role in concert with other account managers and technical directors. I’m often involved with the first client call, all the way through the delivery of the show cycle. We’ve always had a very personal approach to account management here at Riverview. We each have our own cadre of clients that expect to see our smiling faces on site and be on every phone call.
Q: You’ve been with Riverview since 1995. How has technology impacted your job?
JH: It’s ironic because we’re a tech-heavy company but for me, personally my cell phone, which is an Android by choice because I do most of my work with Google apps, and my laptop are the technology I need most in order to do my job. There are always customers that are looking for what is the latest and greatest so I need to keep abreast of the latest live event technology advances so I can make the right recommendations to clients and have knowledge about how all the systems work together. I am fortunate to be surrounded by a team of talented people here at Riverview who have their brains firmly wrapped around the technology.
Q: Given that you’re often the first point of contact for clients who may not be familiar with the technology that goes into live event production. Is it a challenge for you to interpret what they’re looking for into actual deliverables?
JH: Oh yeah, that’s sort of the bread and butter of the job. The client may or may not have a strong technical background but they know what they want to see. Since there are very few ‘money is no object’ clients, my job boils down to translating their vision into a technology solution, whether it’s scenic lighting, audio, video, etc., and setting expectations within budget realities to deliver a fantastic result.
Q: So what is a typical day like for you?
JH: There is no such thing here at Riverview as a typical day. On a day-to-day basis, I am either working a project, interacting with a client, managing a budget, working with our internal resources on staffing, hiring freelancers as necessary, and managing union labor, which can be complex depending on the location. Internally, I’m often collaborating with our creative services team to develop the technical requirements for a particular show. It’s crucial we allocate resources correctly, which can be a challenge because the creative services team isn’t necessarily focused on the bottom line. My role often is a continual right-sizing exercise between technology and budget.
Q: Was there a client or project recently that was particularly challenging for you?
JH: ServiceNow is a good example of a challenge from an account management perspective. During the time we were working on this complex show, the client had a number of new decision makers coming aboard and throughout we would need to address their concerns and work through multiple designs and budget revisions. There were a number of last-minute changes that we needed to execute from all the way across the country in Orlando, Fl. To pull it off took a Herculean effort involving most of our staff, a freelance team working as well as the client’s own producers and staff. It was six months worth of challenges but the show ended up being wildly successful. The client called it their best sales kickoff ever.
Q: What are your clients looking for today? Are you seeing any trends?
JH: I’m not sure if I’d call it a trend but more and more clients like eBay and Intuit have come to us to equip their own conference facilities and produce shows on their campus’ that combine our technology and theirs. Of course, we have many clients who always want us to push the edge to come up with a unique, never seen before production plan whether it is in how the stage is designed or using the latest LED or projection mapping technology. I would say if there’s any trend, it’s that event managers are smarter and more sophisticated about project execution, planning, and the latest technology, so, we always have to stay one step ahead.
Q: I understand you’re one of the many musicians at Riverview. What’s your musical background?
JH: I am a bass player. Our band plays mostly covers and a handful of originals. We make some vain attempt to be danceable because we mostly play parties of one kind or another. One of our best gigs was playing at Evan’s daughter Abbie’s wedding. A little-known fact is that Evan grabbed the microphone and sang a song by Cheap Trick for his new son-in-law. He did a bang-up job.
Q: Outside of the office, any other hobbies besides music?
JH: My passions are mountain biking, music, family — not necessarily in that order. Family comes first, but we have more than a full-time job at Riverview – for me, it’s more like a family at the job.
Q: Any new music, TV show, movie or book that you’re a fan of?
JH: Outside of work, there is almost a constant soundtrack playing – the age of internet radio and my personal music library being available wherever I am (on whatever device), allows me to pursue my favorite thing in life: Variety. Currently in a high rotation is music by Hiromi Uehara, Mike Ness, Floater and Nathaniel Rateliffe.