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Meet the… business development manager

Ben Gunkel, business development manager, Verso Live, reveals how he got his start in the media industry by offering to work for free for six months (but he was paid), and why it’s important to remember everyone knows more than you.

Talk us through an average day in your role

I like to get started early, which is not hard with two kids under the age of four in the house! To be honest, it’s mostly emails straight away, top up the social interaction on LinkedIn and check in with colleagues for the daily demos. I try to have my video calls before lunch. In the early afternoon I like to be in front of people face to face – rather than on video calls as I think you can really get more out of seeing people in person as you can build up trust. New business is a big part of my role so I’m always in touch with new people. My focus at Verso Live is to expand the business into new territories and showcase how well the solution works with Unreal Engine and that involves a lot of travel, which I love.

How did you get started in the media industry?

I begged my way in, literally. I was rejected by PlayBox as I didn’t have the experience, but I was confident I could make it work so I offered to work for free for 6 months – which worked because I was still paid! I worked my way up by working really hard and pushing every day. I didn’t rely on talking my way through my career – I closed deals! I’m glad I pushed my boss Don Ash into believing in me. He’s sadly passed away now, but I’ll always be grateful to him.

What training did you have before entering the industry?

I grew up in a family that owned a 24 track reel-to-reel recording studio and I am also (still) a musician ( so I know my stuff when it comes to live and recorded audio. I had to learn about broadcast technology and playout especially, and I’m still learning every day.

Why do you enjoy working in the industry?

I think the industry is full of really genuine people who just want to get the best out of what they do. I always conduct myself with honesty and I never pretend to know more than I do. That approach works best when you have a product that people need – you just show them what you do best without pressure selling. 

I remember in the early days of PlayBox trying to help people see that the future of playout was remote/cloud or software running on a PC. Some thought I was bonkers but I believed in myself and I think people saw the industry changing and took a leap of faith in me. It’s a similar approach at Verso Live where we’re trying to show the industry what a great pairing Verso Live is with UE5.

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

I know it’s a cliché, but whatever work you do, Zoom calls, expos, demos, etc. you need to remember that everyone knows more than you do so stay grounded and be a good person.