The WiMN’s Front and Center is a weekly column that showcases accomplished women who work in the music and audio industries. We spotlight successful female performers, manufacturers, retailers, educators, managers, publicists, and everyone else in between. Want to be featured? Learn how here.
Front and Center: Sennheiser & Neumann Global Commercial Manager, Dawn Birr
By Myki Angeline
Dawn Birr has spent the majority of her professional career with Sennheiser & Neumann and has loved every minute of it. She worked hard, overcame adversity and climbed the ranks which lead her to being their Global Commercial Manager. We caught up with Birr and asked what brought her to Sennheiser and the impact it has made on her life, both personally and professionally.
WiMN: What attracted you to the music and audio industry?
DB: When I was first beginning my career I was lucky enough to find Sennheiser, and once I learned about the company, culture, and products I was instantly hooked. Sennheiser has a rich, storied background and our company has intersected with history from the beginning. Sennheiser is responsible for so much we listen to every day, both passively and actively, and I am so proud of our company, the vision of our leaders, and where we are going.
WiMN: How did you begin working for Sennheiser? What is your current role there?
DB: My current role is Global Commercial Manager, Audio Recording with Sennheiser & Neumann. I have been here almost 16 years and actually started as a temporary receptionist right out of college. I was able to work my through the organization with the help of strong mentors and a nurturing culture. Over the years I was Neumann Product Manager, RF Product Manager of our 3/5K series, Channel Manager for Installed Sound, Vice President of Sales & Marketing for Installed Sound in the U.S., and now I am working in this new Global role. In between I was encouraged to get my MBA, which I also did with the help of my generous company.
WiMN: What is your favorite aspect of working at Sennheiser?
DB: We work in a truly global company and every day in my job looks different than the day before. My favorite aspect is that Sennheiser at its heart is a very exciting and fun place to work. We get to do and see things that are so unique, so interesting, and impact people on so many different levels.
WiMN: What is one little known fact about you?
DB: While I don’t play an instrument, one of my favorite things in the world is to get to use a Sennheiser mic and listen to the sound of my voice through a PA system! I love that! In my head I have a Beyonce girl power moment! Goofy but true.
WiMN: What is Sennheiser doing to reach female musicians and audio professionals?
DB: Sennheiser knows that our strength comes from diversity, and we have a great team of female leaders in our organization among many different disciplines. Our leaders, Daniel Sennheiser and Andreas Sennheiser, have a strong interest in continuing to grow our diversity. From an outreach perspective I make a point to work with as many female artists and engineers as possible and support them in any way that I can. I have been mentored by some of the best women in the business – Leslie Ann Jones has been a great role model for me. And, I want to try to repay this in kind.
WiMN: Have you ever faced adversity in the music industry simply for being a woman? If so, how did you overcome it?
DB: I have. When I was younger it was harder, and I was often doubted in a couple of ways: my age and my gender. A few times it was done directly to my face, with no pretense. I overcame it by not allowing myself to be run over. I overcame it with the support of the great men around me who believed in me. And I finally learned to overcome it by knowing in most cases I was smarter than the person slinging the shade.
WiMN: Any words of advice for young women who would like to enter the industry?
DB: Seek out people you admire and learn from them. Don’t become lost in the idea that you only need women to support you. I wouldn’t have made it this far without the exceptional men I’ve worked with and who have mentored me as well. Be your best ally. Say yes to (almost) every professional opportunity, no matter how far out of left field it seems. Take a chance.
WiMN: What’s next for you and Sennheiser?
DB: I can’t wait to find out!