Mat Schramm

2008 Interview of the Year!  
 
Age: 34
 
Current Occupation: Senior Consultant: EC Harris International Dubai and passionate musician / writer.
 
So what is exactly is it that you do: Manage the budget & construction of Tiger Woods Golf Course which is open to due 2010, if you have a spare $25 million US you should snap up one of the villas for sale! (FirstStep.co.za says: we know a few people, we will give them a shout!). My passion is writing and producing music, I’m currently working on my second album under the production name Universal Dust. I recently co-wrote, produced and directed a music video for the new album with my Australian visual production team, Method of Design [formally Square Frame Studios] which was a ton of fun. The first one produced by MOD was nominated as the top 100 films in the St.Kilda Film Festival in Melbourne, which was a pleasant surprise. MOD is focusing on post production, animation and photography through multiple industry sectors.

Why in the world would you choose a career in Project Management and a Musician (quite a hectic combination or you just showing off)? You say ‘choose’, I’m not sure it really happened that way, although I’m quite happy my parents forced me through 10 years of classical piano these days. The entropy of life is a strange journey, with many layers, some it seems are never revealed to you directly, so I find myself hunting for the other layers, which are often not as far away as you may think. I’ve always dreamt of breaking into the film industry and even more so after shooting the music video for Universal Dust. I’m a strong believer that it’s never to late to follow your dreams, so now I’m working on a couple of screens plays, I want to see how far I can push the envelope. I find that construction management is often a means to an end for me, enabling me to follow my passion for music and now film. I need to exercise more than one area of my mind to stay balanced.
 
Did you study, how did you go about learning your trade? Four years of fun at the University of South Australia will apparently get you a degree in Building, I majored in Project Management. Of course I’ve learnt much more working than I ever did at university (FirstStep.co.za notes: extremely well put). I would strongly suggest taking work experience seriously when searching for your career path, as I spent the first years of my career doing something I wasn’t really suited to. This inadvertently nurtured my passion for music, as I was actively searching for an escape, so I was lucky in a sense. After classical piano lessons, I self taught myself the guitar, and then bass and a little drums. In the early nineties the natural progression was to programming & production the rest is history. I’m a strong believer in teaching yourself if you are driven enough, one advantage is you can discover alternative techniques from the standard teachings and with music and art this is usually a good thing.  
 
Give us a brief run down of your average working day?  
I deal with interesting clients and consultants from all around the planet, at the moment were trying to keep Tiger Woods and his entourage happy while balancing billions of dollars. After all its only a few more zeros right? (FirstStep.co.za notes: Rephrase that, you mean a few more zeros to the right…) The stress elevates when program e.g finishing on time becomes and issue while keeping maintaining budget. I deal with Architects, Engineers and Contractors daily while letting construction contracts to and managing big dollars.
 
What type of challenges do you face on an ongoing basis? Working in Dubai you face challenges you would not normally face in Australia. Dealing with contractors and consultants, circumstances can get hectic quickly so you have to try and stay calm to dissolve high stress situations. Reference to comedy is my method, and besides laughing is infectious and it usually isn’t as bad as it first seems. Time and cost and the two primary challenges in my line of work, both overcome with strategic thinking and being pro-active about problems before they fester too much.
 
Do you recommend studying to get into your field? Construction / Project Management you usually need to study for, although not necessarily in the building industry as people come from other backgrounds into the building industry and vice versa. I also know people who’ve talked their way into roles they didn’t study for, but this is very rare in the new global environment.
 
I feel you can be naturally talented in the arts and not have to be trained to succeed, although, you have to practice hard and learn your trade and keep evolving with it as you push the boundaries. (FirstStep.co.za says: Nice one!)
 
Quick questions with Mat!
 
Highlight of your career so far: Musically, I was doing a gig in Sydney at the Peppermint Lounge and Keanu Reeves rolled in and checked out the set, while filming the Matrix. We were introduced and had a drink together which was pretty cool. Playing at Australia premiere music festival The Big Day Out in Australia was very cool too. Oh yeah, working on Tiger Woods Golf Course is definitely a highlight.
 
If you weren’t a (PM / muso) you would be a…..? Aeronautical Engineer, who doesn’t want to design space ships? It’s coming people, soon, yes soon!
 
Mat’s favourites:
Favourite food: Crustacians are my sea friends, until they make me mad, then I eat them, mmm. (FirstStep.co.za says: Charming and worrying at the same time!)
 
Favourite Country: My home country, Australia, superb. (FirstStep.co.za says: We will take your word for it!)
 
Favourite City: San Francisco so far, the underground culture is thriving….oh, and they don’t support President Bush.
 
Mat’s message to young South Africans: Staying true to yourself is something you should take seriously, but at the same time don’t take life too seriously because from where I stand there are no big answers to it all. Belief in yourself is crucial to peeling back the next layer of life, it’s probably closer than you think. Go for it!