In conversation with lighting design manager at Park Electrical Distributors, Karl Snowdon

What were your career ambitions growing up? 

When growing up I didn’t have a particular career ambition, I had an interest in business at school which led me into my apprenticeship at Park Electrical Distributors. Aged 17, my career ambitions were triggered with the thoughts of combining design and business.

Tell us about your role at Park Electrical Distributors? 

My role at Park Electrical is to manage and develop our lighting design department. We have a team of five lighting engineers plus an office administrator who service all Park’s customers with their lighting needs, developing specific lighting and control designs for each individual project. My role also includes developing business for our team, expanding our customer base and generating additional revenue.

What is your proudest business achievement?

In 2015 I was promoted to lighting design manager which was a great personal achievement for me. It demonstrated a level of trust from the company in my ability. I started within the department as a junior and to have the opportunity to develop my skill set at Park has been invaluable.

What is the biggest challenge you have encountered?

At the beginning of my career, my biggest challenge was my age. I worked hard to demonstrate my knowledge of the sector.

How has the industry changed in the last decade?

The industry has had a huge shift in the last decade. The development of LED into a useable light source has changed every scheme we do. Fluorescent, Incandescent and Discharge light fittings have been the industry standard for several decades but now LED has thrown lighting into the 21st century. With the use of LED lighting we can now dramatically reduce energy consumption against previous technologies, but more importantly we now have limitless opportunities to carry additional services through lighting. We can now carry Wi-Fi, CCTV, Audio, Bluetooth Mesh Networks and many other services through light fittings which instantly makes the right lighting design imperative to the building.

What advice would you give to your 18 year old self?

The best advice I would give to anyone, including myself, is don’t take business to heart – it’s not personal. I used to often take criticism or advice as a personal attack and would look to immediately defend my actions or decision which was unnecessary. In the main, we are all trying to do what is right by our own company or project. If we can work with partner companies to achieve the best outcome for all then great, if not – move on and live to fight another day.

Who are your hero outside of business? 

Outside of business is easy. Sir Bobby Robson is a North East icon like no other, for both his brilliant time at St James’ Park where he will always be adored and also his contribution to the region. He was a fantastic man from whom we could all learn.

In business I have some personal heroes within Park who have helped me reach my goals and who I am sure will help me reach my next ones. They shall remain nameless, but they know who they are!

Is there a mantra you always aspire to do business by? 

I wouldn’t say I have a particular ‘mantra’ but there’s a phrase that was said to me by a colleague that’s always stuck with me and I try to follow as best I can – “Be kind to everyone on the way up; you’ll meet the same people on the way down.”

Which fictional character do you most relate to? 

Fairly difficult question to answer, but probably the most accurate to me would be Sulley from Monsters Inc. – From failing college and starting off in the mail room to working his way up to top scarer with nothing but hard work and teamwork with Mike seems to relate to me nicely. Also my eldest daughter loves Monsters Inc. so it fit’s quite nicely!

How do you like to unwind?

I have two young daughters at home, so the chance of unwinding is slim. They bring me more joy and happiness than I’ve ever known (when they aren’t tearing the place apart!) I’m very lucky to have both of them. When not playing dolls or doctors, I try and play golf or football as much as I can.

My wife and I occasionally have a date night but if you have kids you will know how infrequent they are…!

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