Nov. 14, 2018
From Schulich to the world stage
He’s made a career out of listening very closely.
These days, as the CEO of PK Sound and the purveyor of amplified music to thousands of concert goers around the world, Jeremy Bridge is also used to being heard – whether it’s the Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas and Mexico or Canada’s Shambhala, Bridge’s state-of-the-art speakers are now in demand for the best artists at the top festivals.
But listening is the key, and that’s the message the University of Calgary engineering graduate shared with a brand new class of first-year students at the Schulich School of Engineering: always pay attention.
“You’re sitting in class, thinking ‘I’m never going to use this in the real world. Is what I’m learning here ever going to be applicable?’” Bridge recalls of his early days in school, when some of the lessons seemed superfluous to his goal of being a chemical engineer.
A font of wisdom and sweet sound
With hundreds of future engineers in the audience, the PK Sound boss provided a wise answer.
“I’ll tell you what: fifty percent of it is not. But you never know which 50 percent. I’m a chemical engineer now using robotics, so the electrical engineering courses I thought were useless became very important,” says Bridge, BSc(Eng)’05.
“So always pay attention, even if you think it doesn’t apply, the fundamental skills you learn will apply.”
It was an inspiring speech from a man who turned his university side business into a world-leading company, providing sound at international festivals with 100,000 and more in attendance.
Part-time job spurred future career
Bridge said he intended to be a traditional engineer, but in the meantime, working part time as a DJ and organizing music events helped convinced him and his team to build a better speaker.
“We were throwing these crazy parties and dance music festivals, and we would rent speakers, and just blow everything up,” he explained.
“We knew we could do it better. So PK continued to grow and we were building speakers in our basement. Renting speakers was a way to put myself through university.”
Armed with his chemical engineering degree, Bridge worked in the oil and gas industry after graduation, but by 2009, PK Sound had grown to the point of being a full-time venture.
Broadway and big beats
It hasn’t stopped since. With offices in Canada and the United States, Bridge and his company build cutting edge speakers and provide sound for huge festivals and broadway shows, and plenty in between.
His future is loud and clear, and as a new academic year gets underway for a new crop of future engineers, Bridge credits listening with making it all possible.
“The value of engineering is that it opens the doorway to develop and be able to do whatever you want to,” he explains.
“It provides a solid base to fall back on, and gives you the courage to go out and try new things.”