Meet the HARMAN Luxury Audio Team
Name: Tom Melville
Position/Job Title: Project Manager, Engineering
With HARMAN Since 1985
With Meet The HARMAN Luxury Team, our goal is for you to get to know us better. In each edition we feature a different member of the team, and this month it's Tom Melville, Project Manager, Engineering.
How would you describe what you do in your current role?
As a Project Manager, I mostly manage new product introductions for the Luxury Audio team. This entails planning and coordinating with all of the various groups involved in bringing a new product to life. It starts with an initial product vision in order to meet the market needs. Based on this, an initial engineering design concept and feasibility study is developed to determine what the team feels can be achieved in terms of specifications and features as well as an assessment of cost to support the price point for the market. Through the various stages of a new product introduction, my role includes working with the GPLM team, engineering team, sales teams, sourcing team, finance team, regional and global supply chain teams, as well as our external suppliers and many more.
Over the last two years, however, I have been working on a project called Project Demand which was initiated by BU management in order to support continued growth of our Luxury Audio business. Managing this project has been quite different than my PM role introducing new products which I performed since I joined the Luxury Audio team in 2017, as well as for the previous 15+ years while with the HARMAN Professional team.
Project Demand has been very challenging, but it has been rewarding for me to do something different and also see the positive results for the BU. I am very appreciative to have been given this unique opportunity by Dave and the Luxury Audio leadership team.
What did you study in school? Did you always imagine yourself doing something like what you’re doing now, or did the fates just take you in that direction?
I studied Engineering in school and earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Engineering from California State University Northridge, which has a highly regarded Engineering program.
It definitely was fate that led me to my career at HARMAN. Details of this fate are provided in the answer to the next question. I never imagined that I would end up doing anything like what I am doing in my current role, or even in the many other various positions I have held at HARMAN over the years, including roles in engineering, production management, materials management, warehouse management, and more.
How did your career path lead you to HARMAN?
A long time ago in 1985, I was a student at California State University Northridge working towards an Engineering degree. One day I went into the Engineering department office at CSUN to meet with my guidance counselor. On the way out I noticed a job posting for a summer job as an Engineering Assistant in the Manufacturing/Industrial Engineering department at a company by the name of “JBL Incorporated.” At that time all I knew about JBL was they made really good speakers that I couldn’t afford. It was close by so I went to JBL the next day and applied for the position in person. Later the same week, I had an interview and was offered the job on the spot. I was informed that it was just for the summer: “Three months only” I was advised when I accepted the position. After the three months were over, I was asked if I would like to stay on part time as I continued working towards getting my degree. I ended up working part time during the school year and full time in the summer until I completed my Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Engineering in 1988. By this time, Sidney Harman had reacquired JBL Incorporated, so it was an integrated part of the “HARMAN family.”
After successfully obtaining my Engineering degree and applying for positions at various companies I received two job offers. One offer was in the aerospace industry from Lockheed Martin, the other offer was for an engineering position to continue with HARMAN. After much consideration, I accepted the offer for a full time Engineering position with HARMAN. In hindsight, there is no question in my mind that this was the correct decision for me. This worked out well, as I am somehow still here with HARMAN today, 37 years later.
So I guess the short answer is that, with no regrets, my entire professional career has been with HARMAN.
What is the most important thing you have learned over your career?
One of the most important things I have learned throughout my career is the importance of listening to what others have to say and keeping your mind open to the ideas of others. In order to learn and grow, the importance of allowing oneself to absorb as much information as possible from many different points of view, and areas of expertise should never be underestimated. Whether it be from colleagues or mentors in your own field, others performing different functions within the company, or external professionals that you come in contact with, there is always something to be learned by listening to the experiences and viewpoints of others.
Any other advice you would offer people just starting out in this industry?
If you enjoy music, this is a great industry for you to have a career in. Follow your passion and strive to help others to further enjoy their music experiences as much as you do.
What are you most proud of in your life?
For me it is the tight bonds I have been able to hold with my family and our supportive relationships, including our extended family as well. Family may be the “textbook” answer to this question, but it is true. My wife and my children were the backbone that helped me keep it together while providing caring of my mom as she struggled through her fight with ALS. For us, this was also followed by living with and caring for my wife’s dad through a very long battle with Alzheimer’s and Dementia. Those that haven’t experienced something along these lines don’t completely understand how heavy of a toll it can take on those family members living with and dealing with the slow progression, day by day, for years. I am so grateful for their support and thank them for keeping me strong enough to be able to continue my career working with all of the great and talented people I have the pleasure to work with at HARMAN!
When did you first realize you had a passion for music or audio?
My passion for music started in my early teens. There was no particular band, song or movie that hooked me, but I definitely owe my passion for music to my older brother Tony. We would save our money until we had enough to buy an album or two or go to Licorice Pizza. We would spend hours sifting through the albums deciding what we could afford to buy that day and planning as to what we would want to buy next time as well. Once we were old enough it became going to as many concerts and experiencing the live music of many, many bands such as The Who, The Rolling Stones, Tom Petty, the Police, Santana, Yes, Phil Collins, The Kinks, Talking Heads, The Eagles, Ramones, The B-52’s and many, many more.
Heck, we thought the Rolling Stones were “old” when we saw them at the L.A. Coliseum in like 1981. That was when Prince was one of the warm up bands and got booed off the stage by some “unappreciative” fans. These people didn’t have any idea of the talent Prince had, but that’s a whole different story.
What current technology impresses you the most?
What impresses me the most is the fact that the technology and electronics that make the things we use every day work just keep getting smaller and smaller and smaller… How does a tiny chip do all of the things that it does???
What's your favorite music genre?
I would say that my favorite music genre is classic rock, but I do enjoy most all types of music including all types of rock, new wave, R&B, jazz, easy listening, POP/disco, rap (Tupac, Snoop and the likes), some hip-hop, etc.
And now, even country music. When someone used to ask me what I would like them to play, I used to say “Anything but country,” but over the years even that has grown on me a bit and will find myself tapping my foot to the beat sometimes without even realizing.
The desert island question, of course. If you were marooned for eternity and could listen to only three albums, what would they be?
Now this question is just flat out not fair. What happened to my iPod with a very long play list and battery with a solar charger?
I’d probably pick some “Best of an era” type albums with multiple artists. But if I had to pick three (I have changed this answer at least six times):
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – Debut album, or maybe a “Best of” if that is allowed.
The Police - Regatta de Blanc
And to mix it up a bit…
Michael Jackson - Number Ones
You have the floor. In closing, tell us anything else you want us to know about yourself.
I feel it is very important to treat people as you would like to be treated. Life is too short to waste time or energy in a negative way or feeling anger towards others, so always try to channel your energy in a positive way. Build strong relationships, both personally and in business, with as many as you can along your journey through life, wherever it is and will take you. Enjoy these relationships as often as you have the opportunity to do so.