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Meet the… senior product manager

Mike Boucke, senior product manager, AJA Video Systems, describes his journey from the US Air Force to TV technology

Talk us through an average day in your role.

There is no average day as a product manager, as my role varies based on the ever-changing demands of development as defined by industry challenges and customer needs. I primarily focus on enhancing AJA’s existing line-up of robust tools for video production, while refining the roadmap requirements for future product releases. I conduct conversations with our wide customer base and sales team in order to determine what new products or features are required to meet unmet market needs and help streamline production workflows. In order to meet our internal goals, it’s critical that I ensure we are innovating with product updates and new releases that new and existing customers require and will purchase. 

How did you get started in the media industry?

Funny enough, working in the media industry wasn’t my original plan or first choice. Upon enlisting in the United States Air Force for an electronics position, I had to select ten available jobs from a large list. Being young and excited about the military, I chose all weapons-based roles, like F-16 fighters and ICBM maintenance. I initially only selected eight positions that excited me, but I was promptly ordered to choose two more. So, I reluctantly selected phone repair and (lastly) TV repair. Imagine my disappointment when I got my last pick!

I was stationed at Lowry AFB Colorado for training and recall my teachers first words: “Welcome to the least known and greatest job in the Air Force.” Once I started studying TV technology, I was hooked. My first job was as a support technician for Combat Camera, and I later moved to AFNews to build and support stations in Europe and Japan. 

After leaving the military, I worked for DirecTV in Los Angeles, then switched to the manufacturing side by joining Nvision, where I eventually became a product manager for control systems and routers. 

What training did you have before entering the industry?

My training was in the USAF, which is widely regarded as one of the best broadcast technician educational courses available. I followed up with the advanced broadcasting course at Ft. Meade.

Why do you enjoy working in the industry?

I really enjoy being a part of a team that focuses on innovation to create products our customers need and find useful, and having the opportunity to interact with engineers and clients who are so passionate about this industry is very fulfilling. The industry is experiencing a seismic shift from baseband to IP, which makes this an incredibly exciting time to innovate and collaborate with market leaders. 

What piece of advice would you offer someone looking to explore a role similar to yours?

It’s critical to have a thorough understanding of your products to help your customers optimise workflow performance. Also, remember to be a voice of calmness for your customers; especially when there are critical issues in their systems.