A Day in the Life of Joe Way, Director of USC Learning Environments

USC Learning Environments

A Day in the Life of Joe Way

Director, USC Learning Environments | Host, Higher Ed AV | Author, Producing Worship | Co-Founder, HETMA

“I currently work as the Director of Learning Environments at the University of Southern California, overseeing the design, installation, and support teams for the 300+ general use classrooms, auditoriums, computer labs, and collaborative study areas. Prior to higher ed, I spent over 25 years in the business development side of the entertainment industry, working in multiple aspects from live venues, sports, nightclubs, and education.” – Joe Way, USC

Q: What is your morning routine?

A: My morning routine is pretty boring, and pretty standard. I live in South Orange County, exactly 50 miles from USC, which is in downtown LA. I wake up at 4:45am and head out for my first of three 20-minute walks I do throughout the day. Upon returning, it’s jumping in the shower, dressing, putting on coffee, and packing my meals for the day, before heading out the door at 5:45am to catch the 6:03am Metrolink train to Downtown. I spend the hour-fifteen train ride sorting the morning emails, posting up my podcast, and just getting mentally prepared for the day. Once at Union Station, I catch the USC tram to my office, and I’m on with my day.

Q: What does an average week-day look like for you?

A: While my days should be pretty predictable, they really vary a ton; that’s what I love about the higher ed vertical. I joke that I’m just paid to attend meetings, because that is a majority of my day. As the director of a rockstar staff, I spend my day just ensuring they have all the resources they need in order to be successful. I serve on a number of USC’s task forces, because just about every issue that happens impacts the classrooms, faculty, or students in some way. I try to find some time each day just to stroll the office and connect with the teams, but sadly that’s not always possible. After work, I begin the 2-hour train ride home, finalizing some emails on the commute, and then spend the evening taking my third walk of the day with my wife, and relaxing.

Q: What does your busiest/most active day look like?

A: Considering we’re just completed an enterprise 300+ room technology upgrade, my day is often a crazy juggling of director’s level meetings with attempting to coordinate vendors and installation needs of the team. I am often double, triple, and quadruple booked, so I often joke that it’s not which meeting I’m going to next, but which two am I going to miss.

Q: How do you stay energized throughout the week?

A: It sounds dumb, but I stay energized by doing more. I am a workaholic, but I also love what I do. I try every day to find one way to give back to the greater community, whether it be through my podcast, Higher Ed AV [higheredav.com], volunteering with HETMA (Higher Education Technology Managers Alliance [hetma.org]), or volunteering on an AVIXA committee. This industry has given me so much, I love being able to mentor and invest in the next generation and my incredible peers.

Q: If you were a fly on the wall at your personal workspace (office, desk, home, etc.), what would you see/hear?

A: As a fly on the wall, you’d probably fall asleep really quickly. You’d be watching a lot of Zoom meetings, with an occasional podcast recoding, industry webinar, or interview. In the space, it’s a lot of USC swag and recording gear. I love my standing desk and try to make it a point to move around throughout the day. We forget how sedentary we can get just jumping from one Zoom call to the next without our former water cooler stops.

Q: What did a day in the life look like when you were just starting as a young professional compared to now?

A: Wow, so different. Because I came through the entertainment side of the industry, it was a lot of nights and weekends. It was a lot of hustling from gig to gig, job to job, project to project. As I grew, I moved into business development which just meant I added daytime hustling to the calendar. But in the end, it all paid off and I had an incredible time. Even moving into TD’ing in house of worship, it was great being able to serve a higher cause, but it still was all nights and weekends That being said, I love the shift to higher ed. I never really appreciated (nor had the opportunity to have) the traditional 9-to-5 work schedule. It’s amazing to have control my day and have a real routine that isn’t defined by show times or recording schedules.

Q: How do you spend your time outside of work?

A: Well, I am a workaholic, so I spend my off time working. I know I just said in the last question that I love 9-to-5, but I will spend my off time working on personal projects that are still focused on AV like my Higher Ed AV Podcast & Magazine, running HETMA, the Higher Education Technology Managers Alliance, writing for AV trade magazines, or volunteering at my church. My wife I also love to travel and explore, and now that we are empty-nesters, it’s easier to take time for ourselves and try new places we haven’t been to.

Q: What is your strategy for balancing work and life?

A: Haha, work-life balance, what’s that?! Actually, while I do keep myself very busy, I also say that I’ve never worked a day in my life, because I love what I do. I love AV because there is a “product of your work.” Either there is a show that airs, an event that takes place, or like in higher ed, students who are able to receive a quality education because of what we do. That’s extremely satisfying to me. Having purpose in everything makes it so that work and life are intertwined.

Q: What is a mantra (phrase, words, motto) you live by (if any)?

A: My philosophy: “The answer is always yes. Even when it’s no, it’s yes. There are always opportunities in every new challenge, so be good at your job, know your craft, and work like what you are doing truly matters… because it does.”




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