Sana grew up in Lebanon, Beirut, a region that is hostile to women and their advancement, yet Sana prevailed as a native Arab woman, running mixing consoles and leading teams. Something that had never been seen before. Sana says “I come from a third-world country that most people have never heard of unless it made the news for wars and bombings but I am now working for one of the top international companies in our industry. All of this to say – there was a lot of betting against me going into the live sound field, but none of that mattered in the long run- so the lesson to learn: aim, focus, work and you will find a place for yourself in this industry.”Sana currently works as a specialist for Meyer Sound and is a freelance live sound engineer.
When did you discover audio as a career path?
My parents took me to my first large-scale concert when I was 15 here in Beirut. I was fascinated that sound can be “spread” into such a big space, beyond just headphones or car radio systems. During that same concert, I saw a person behind a big board full of knobs and thought well this must be a cool job to have! That concert I believe was the trigger of my interest in audio and in a career in this field.
Did music and audio interest you while you were growing up?
I always loved listening to music and had a very varied taste while growing up but I never was able to learn to play any instruments. I was more into the sciences – math and physics. – and I entered this field not from the musician’s side like most but more from the scientific side.
Did you attend a University/College/Trade School?
Yes, I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Physics from the American University of Beirut (2012) and a Master of Science in Audio Engineering from Université Blaise-Pascal in France (2014)
How did you get your start?
I did an internship in the summer of my first year of master’s back home in Beirut in one of the largest rental companies there. I then went back to France finished my masters and then returned home to Beirut to be hired by that same rental company. I worked there for the next 3 years (2014- 2017)
How did your early internships or jobs help build a foundation for where you are now?
That internship led to my first job offer. I consider the 3 years spent at that rental company as the years that really formed and shaped my career. I was doing all sorts of work with them from managing teams to running set-ups and beginning to mix at large-scale events and festivals in the region.
What did you learn interning or on your early gigs?
Speed in troubleshooting and working under pressure. Mainly the internship and then first job exposed me to a variety of sub-fields so that later on I was able to choose and be more selective in the jobs that I wanted to take on as a freelancer.
Did you have a mentor or someone that really helped you?
A few worth mentioning along the way. The owner of the rental company I worked for, Fida Zalloum, was the one who gave me my first shot at mixing and managing projects. Then along the way very few local engineers were helpful except for one, Wissam Jarrah, who I still consider as my mentor and who I go back to for questions and support when needed. Then after I joined Meyer Sound I can honestly say that the entire technical team at Meyer has been beyond supportive and helpful, it has been great being part of this team.
What is a typical day like?
I am mostly traveling for my work with Meyer Sound – which I love because not a week is like the other. If I am not on the road then I am working remotely from my apartment in Beirut doing system design, technical support, and education work for the company. I am also still taking on selective projects as a MON or FOH engineer and technical concert/festival management locally.
How do you stay organized and focused?
I am not great at working ahead of time I am more of a work-under-pressure type of person but what helps me stay on time is being organized and sorted in my to-do list and priorities.
What do you enjoy the most about your job?
That there is no overwhelming routine. It is always varied- always on the move in different settings especially when traveling and being in different countries, witnessing and working with different cultures and people.
What do you like least?
Sometimes the extensive traveling takes a toll on me physically but I am learning to take breaks when that happens – still a work in progress!
What is your favorite day off activity?
Relaxing, reading books, catching up with my loved ones.
What are your long-term goals?
To keep doing what I love and keep learning and exploring new things in this field,
What if any obstacles or barriers have you faced?
The obvious thing about being a woman in this male-dominated field especially in the Middle-East where I come from.
How have you dealt with them?
I just focused on what I wanted – it was clear to me from the beginning that this is what I wanted to be this is what I wanted to work in – and that is the only thing that at the core mattered as long as I was convicted and motivated all the obstacles were obsolete.
Advice you have for other women and young women who wish to enter the field?
Be sure this is what you want because it is not easy – but if it is truly what you want then the difficulties won’t matter in the big picture.
Must have skills?
Emotional intelligence – especially when doing monitors. It is important to know how to read people and how to react and support them in the high-pressure environment that is the stage and performance time.