(Photography: David Glaubke)
Welcome to the latest installment of our Women in Audio series, in which we share the stories of talented women across the industry. I recently had the pleasure of meeting with Katy Templeman-Holmes, who serves as the Director of Solutions and Marketing for Hospitality and Broadcast at HARMAN Professional Solutions. She is responsible for developing and implementing innovative product and marketing strategies.
Katy’s audio roots, however, go far beyond her seven years at HARMAN. Her father spent several decades in the music industry and, before joining the business side of sound, Katy worked as a broadcast and recording engineer. These days, though, her life is on an even keel working at HARMAN and enjoying motherhood. For Katy, the connection between the various phases of her life has been an unwavering interest in how pieces fit together and make things work, something reinforced each day while exploring the world with her 2 ½-year-old daughter, Goldie.
Katy was born and raised in the South of England, where her father owned recording studios, was a recording engineer and producer, and worked for console manufacturers. Katy fondly recalls accompanying him on weekend visits to console factories. “He would bring me bits of swag from tradeshows, but he also always gave me brochures, broken CPU boards and things like that from the factories,” said Katy. “Like lots of children, I was curious about what daddy did and, by default, followed him around like a shadow. But the default, in my case, put me in the music business setting. It became part and parcel of me. I was always around it, building things and playing.”
Initially, Katy had no inclination to follow her father’s footsteps into the music business, and in her teens, she left the main British school system to attend the Chelsea School of Fine Art in London. “Similar to many teenagers, I had an idea of what I thought I would do with my life and that was fine art. That’s what my natural discipline is, but I don’t actually enjoy it. Based on how I have always liked how stuff works, I instead ended up going to the University of Surrey to study broadcast engineering,” she said. “I didn’t realize how deeply the audio process was embedded in me and how much I knew by osmosis from growing up around it. The familiarity definitely gave me a foot up.”
When Katy was 17, her father, who then worked for HARMAN, moved to Nashville, where the company had a manufacturing plant. Katy began spending half of each year at her university in England and half with her parents in the United States. “I worked at a radio station and as a broadcast engineer at IMG in London on the weekends. Then, when I was in Nashville, I had a job marketing records for a company that let me come and go.”
After graduating, Katy worked as a broadcast engineer in Los Angeles and as a recording engineer in Burbank, California. “I was with Fox and Clear Channel, but also worked for a small independent recording studio [Elephant Symphony]. That’s probably where I learned most of what has influenced what I do today. It gave me the knowledgebase to understand audio as a discipline,” said Katy. “I would leave Fox, drive across the city and do a nightshift in the studio, working with jazz musicians or on animatics [fully scored moving storyboards] for the movie studios. I loved it and was learning lots, but at the same time, learned that I didn’t want to pursue a career as a recording engineer.”
“It took me a while to realize that I wasn’t particularly good at it, and that I didn’t have the passion for it,” she said. “Textbook-wise, I understand the work inside out and have enjoyed teaching others about it. But, actually executing on it is something you have or you don’t. You can teach somebody to draw, but you can’t make them an artist. Likewise, you can teach someone to engineer, but you can’t make them an incredible producer.”
“I again realized that what I most enjoyed was how things worked—taking them apart and learning to put them back together again—whether it was understanding signal in an audio console or how to mic a drum set. But once I get something, I don’t really get much of a kick out of continuously and repetitively executing it,” said Katy.
Moving into the business and manufacturing side of the audio industry resonated with Katy’s inquisitive nature. “Business is a machine, an engine, and you have to figure out how it works,” she said. “There are no rules to what we do. We have to work it out as we go, and parts of it change all the time. You have to be very dynamic and change suit with it. To me, that is much more compelling. It’s also why I love technology; it’s always changing, always moving. At HARMAN, we’re continually shape-shifting and doing different things, which is super exciting and presents a great opportunity.”
Beyond her career, Katy has no hesitation in sharing how her “truest life desire” has always been to become a mother. She has managed to establish a work-life balance that allows her to spend as much uninterrupted time with her daughter as she does at work. “I love my job; it gives me a lot as an individual, and I get a huge kick out of it. And, I love going home to my daughter. I just have a blast,” said Katy. “A lot of my time is spent around her, doing things together. We love being outside and gardening. I’m very passionate about Montessori; it’s something we practice at home.”
“As a parent, it can be difficult to find that workable balance, but HARMAN has been amazing,” she said. “They support me and allow me to do these things.”
These days, Katy’s parents are retired and live in Valencia, Spain, where she and Goldie enjoy visiting on a regular basis.
Many thanks to Katy for the insights into her life and work. Are you a woman who balances a career in sound, music or media with motherhood? Share your story in the comments.