Jonathan Pearce, a proud graduate of the University of Derby’s BSc (Hons) Sound, Light, and Live Event Technology programme, has harnessed his educational experience to carve a remarkable path in the live events industry. Armed with a solid foundation from Derby, Jonathan embarked on a journey that has seen him excel in various roles within the field. His passion for live events has been the driving force behind his accomplishments, and the practical skills honed during his studies have been instrumental in his career growth. Jonathan’s story is a testament to the hands-on education and industry-focused curriculum provided by the University of Derby, propelling him to success in the vibrant world of live events.


Photo of Jonathan Pearce

Jonathan Pearce, Class of 2009



Current location:


Current job + employer:

Head of Sound and Video, Birmingham Repertory Theatre

What did you do/study prior to coming to Derby?

A Level Electronics/Maths/Physics/Music alongside sound and lighting for lots of youth theatre/music, amdram and gigs/concerts.

Why did you choose to go to the University of Derby?

I was attracted by the balance of academic study mixed with hands-on work, that it was not a drama school or vocational training, but combined rigorous academic study culminating in a BSc not a BA. How do things work? How do I fix them? How can I use (and misuse) them? I wanted to know and understand the theory behind choices we make day to day from first principles – not just be trained in ‘we do this because that’s the way it is done’.

Did you start the course with a specific focus or were you undecided?

I’ve always been a tech generalist, but I’ve always leaned towards sound and video (and networking/infrastructure).

Did that focus change on the course? If so, how?

My focus didn’t change much, though exposure to a wider range – show control, live video/IMAG, rigging – has definitely been useful throughout my career, enabling me to cover other depts on a smaller scale and be able to understand other depts on a larger scale.

Has that focus changed on graduating? If so, how?

To go further in my career, I’ve had to specialise. I’ve mostly followed the work, and at present that puts me looking after playback, live sound, projection and designed video, and accessibility systems.

What was the most useful thing you learned on the course?

The ability and confidence to take an issue back to first principles and work out a route through to completing my goal – not just blindly following unappraised established practice.

What did you learn on the course that you thought you’d never use, but that has come in handy during your career?

Beaufort scales – at uni I had little intention of doing any outdoor work, but I’ve since done quite a bit of outdoor promenade theatre where Beaufort scales have featured in risk assessments and daily practice.

What did you do on the course that you never thought you would enjoy?

Risk assessments! As I’ve grown, I quite enjoy a nicely done risk assessment.

What was your favourite establishment in Derby (pub, bar, club, restaurant, etc.)?

First Floor was my second home at uni (now long gone, it had the finest varnished chipboard bars, and a floor stickier than good gaffer tape, but an excellent taste in heavy music and brown ales).

What is your most memorable moment from Derby?

Another student, who I shall leave nameless, crashing a hired cherry picker into a UniBus at Ked Rd. None on our cohort let them forget it when we see them.

What/who at Derby most influenced your life, and how/why?

Working at Derby Playhouse alongside my degree studies was a massive influence – especially now I’m back working in a producing theatre. I’d been 50/50 between theatre and rock and roll, but working at Derby Playhouse definitely set my course on a theatre/concert hall route that I’ve followed and found very fulfilling (I still occasionally escape into rock and roll for a bit, but I wouldn’t want to do it full time). Within the university, Peter Lennox’s line of ‘engineering perception’ has stuck firm over the years.

What would you say to a Derby first year student, knowing what you know now?

Get involved. Network. Make opportunities. Ask questions. Don’t undersell or oversell yourself.

What have you done professionally since graduating?

I’ve been doing a mix of working in education (including sending a few students to Derby!), concert halls, theatre, along with a little bit of working with touring bands. The application might change, but the technology and approach remain much the same.

Have any Derby alumni or staff opened any doors for you? If so, who?

I’ve bumped into coursemates and fellow grads along the way and had great fun working with people who have the same background and approach to work. I’ve had several freelance gigs from fellow students, including Ian at IPS.

What is your most memorable moment from your career so far?

Lighting Robert Palmer at Birmingham Town Hall is definitely a personal highlight, though for career satisfaction it would be the last year of creating new work at the Rep and coordinating the technical integration of the sound and video systems for brand new shows, some of which have gone on tour nationally.

What are your future career plans/ambitions?

Continuing in department management, perhaps moving up to technical management, with an eventual aim to move towards consultancy, specifying installs. I enjoy the challenge and detail of technical integration, and accept that at some point loading a truck at 5am might lose its charm.

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