Meet the HARMAN Luxury Audio Team
Name: Paul Neville
Position/Job Title: Director of Global Engineering
With HARMAN Since 2022
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 Paul Neville , Director of Global Engineering.
How would you describe what you do in your current role?
I lead a talented group of multi-disciplinary engineers, designers, project managers and product managers to design and develop world-class audio products for a global market. This involves keeping abreast of current technology trends, understanding the compliance requirements, the competitive landscape, the supply chain possibilities, consumer trends and working with a passion for audio, within all these constraints, to deliver the best possible product.
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?
At school I had to make the decision to take sciences and math at a fairly early age which meant dropping art as it clashed on the scheduling. However, when I had to choose my A-Levels a couple of years later I seized the opportunity to study art again in parallel to studying math, physics and chemistry. At the end of two years I had caught up on my art and successfully completed an additional A-Level. I then went on to study engineering at university and after working for two years as an engineering designer, I went back to university to study for a masters degree in industrial design. I realized that combining industrial design and engineering was what floated my boat, and that I loved all aspects of product design from how a product looks, feels and how you interact with it but also how it works. (It brought together art and science.) From a small child my parents have told me I was always taking things apart to understand how they worked and that feeling has never left me. I have always enjoyed music so when the opportunity to work for a Hi-Fi company came along, I jumped at it. This was the long answer, but the short answer is no, I didn’t really know what I would end up doing when I was at school, but it has all seemed to happen naturally to get me where I am today – so fate has played its part.
How did your career path lead you to HARMAN?
I spent a large part of my career at Naim Audio, almost 16 years, and most recently as R&D Director. I worked on all types of audio projects from passive loudspeakers to streaming amplifiers and everything in- between. Probably my most satisfying project was the Mu-so wireless speaker which was a daring but highly successful project for Naim, and brought the Naim brand to a much wider audience and helped grow the company to where it is now. All these experiences have given me the foundation and confidence for my current role at HARMAN, with all the opportunities that being part of such a large global company brings.
What is the most important thing you have learned over your career?
Wow! I have learned so much over my career but I think the most important thing I’ve learned is to be nice to people. We’re all human and we are all generally trying to do the best job we can so even when you have to make hard commercial decisions, I’ve learnt to always behave in a way that is caring and compassionate to the people you work with. We’re all on the same team and we all want the same outcome. It’s also much easier to get things done if you’re enjoying yourself and have a smile on your face.
Any other advice you would offer people just starting out in this industry?
Be patient, there’s a lot to learn. It’s a great industry, creating products that people enjoy and there will always be a new challenge.
What are you most proud of in your life?
In my career, I’m most proud of the Mu-so wireless speaker project, it was daring, innovative, great sounding and award winning – so a big success and I was proud to be part of the team that delivered it. (It also had the patented, award-winning knob of the year 😊). Away from work, I’m proud of my family – raising a family, especially the teenage years, is hard work but rewarding.
When did you first realize you had a passion for music or audio?
I think the teenage years are when most people connect with music. I learnt to play the guitar and worked on Saturdays in the local record shop where I spent all my wages. I then persuaded my friends to start a band which was great fun and we played a few gigs and recorded a few songs. The one album that was the soundtrack to those years was the Andy Warhol album by the Velvet Underground & Nico. (I still have the original in my record collection.)
What current technology impresses you the most?
Anything that encourages product re-use and longevity and is conserving energy and the resources of the planet.
What's your favorite music genre?
A really difficult one, because I’ve got quite an eclectic taste, but if I had to go for one it would be Indie Rock.
The desert island question, of course. If you were marooned for eternity and could listen to only three albums, what would they be?
1. The Rolling Stones – Exile on Main Street
2. Radiohead – In Rainbows
3. Midlake – The Trials of Van Occupanther
You have the floor. In closing, tell us anything else you want us to know about yourself.
I also love the outdoors, mountain biking, running, Belgian Beer, reading science fiction and making/drinking great coffee 😊