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Better living through engineered room acoustics

“For Ecophon, it’s all about the people,” says marketing wizard Mai-Britt Beldam

I enjoy my work for many reasons: the steady and diverse supply of learning opportunities at my disposal rewards me on the regular, as does sharing the knowledge gleaned from these sources.

As much fun as it is to learn about various industries and how they function, I find getting to know the people behind the scenes—the people who “make things go”—even more compelling. To that end, I’ve written posts highlighting individual BAP Acoustics team members, as well as more general people-focused articles such as a 2020 feature titled, Have you heard about her: Women’s innovative contributions to acoustics.

Through the process of researching for the latter, I expected to—and did—discover an impressive history of gifted and determined problem-solvers pursuing (still) male-dominated career paths and paving the way for women currently playing key roles in acoustical research, development, and application, as well as in other STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) disciplines. It was also during this process of discovery that I first noticed the name Mai-Britt Beldam mentioned, in an Acoustic Bulletin article titled Seven great female acousticians on Twitter.

In developing content for the BAP Acoustics blog, I’ve come to rely on a discerningly curated and ever-growing collection of information sources ranging from academic studies and other research to well-written articles that, as part of their purpose, translate study findings from “Jargonese” to accessible English. Acoustic Bulletin, a consistently reliable go-to, exemplifies the latter.

The comprehensive online resource is published by Ecophon, a Saint-Gobain Group company that develops, manufactures and markets acoustic products and systems aligned with a commitment to making indoor environments healthier via their patented “sound effect on people.”

An Ecophon veteran, Market Development Manager Mai-Britt Beldam clearly inspires respect and appreciation among her colleagues. Although the above-noted article—written in recognition of International Women’s Day 2018—profiles uniquely qualified women from several countries, it concludes with a “bonus” section acknowledging the contributions of the company’s own female acousticians.

Mai-Britt Beldam, Market Development Manager, Saint-Gobain Ecophon
Mai-Britt Beldam, Market Development Manager, Saint-Gobain Ecophon

With a black belt in Karate and well-honed presentation skills, Mai-Britt is described as “a true crusader for good acoustics [who] excels on stage.”

On further exploration of Acoustic Bulletin content, I noticed that Mai-Britt had written many articles. I read several of them, then fired up YouTube to watch her lecture, Acoustics for Effective Learning Spaces. After watching Mai-Britt showcase the life-changing impact of improved classroom acoustics on a hearing-impaired girl as well as her classmates and teachers, I could only concur wholeheartedly with her Ecophon colleague’s description: This lady indeed excels on stage!

Mai-Britt’s passion for sharing the life-enhancing benefits of optimized room acoustics infuses both her writing and her presentations. Naturally, I wanted to know more!

So, I wrote an email that—although statistically likely to land in the message graveyard known as Junk Folder—was well-received and graciously replied to. Following a couple of enjoyable introductory to-and-fros, an e-correspondence interview began to take shape:

LD: I’ve read your articles—as well as articles about you—and watched your presentation videos online. Your conviction about the importance of well-engineered room acoustics in healthcare and educational settings consistently shines through.

How did this enthusiasm take root and thrive in someone who came to the world of acoustical design from a background of post-secondary humanities study and career in marketing and sales?

M-BB: When I started working for Ecophon in 2007, companies far more often measured the value of their products in terms of profitability—how much money can we make on these items—than on how those products impact end-users. But I quickly learned that for us, it was all about the people.

I never actually imagined myself pursuing a career in marketing or sales—my original dream was to be a language/humanities teacher—but when I got the chance to work closely with sound and its effects on people, it sort of felt like coming home!

When internal processes meet external mitigators,
or how circuitous paths really can lead you home

An exploration of how and why certain French phonetics prove difficult for Danish people to pronounce, Mai-Britt’s master thesis project necessitated her learning about speech processing, phonology, language acquisition, hearing, speech perception, and the auditory system.

“Room acoustics planning is all about addressing these things!” she says. “So no, I’m not an engineer or a ‘math-magician’, but I definitely understand sound from the perspective of other—yet clearly important—sciences. We’re a very multi-disciplinary group of contributors.”

As for the more technical aspects of room acoustics, Mai-Britt learned what she needed to know as her career progressed. “I’ve spent many hours reading about sound and acoustics; I’ve attended many presentations on super-complex acoustics topics. I’ve also learned a great deal from my highly skilled colleagues as well as esteemed acousticians from around the world.”

“Today, I know the basics,” she says, “and I know who to turn to when the math is too advanced or if I can’t understand the physics behind an acoustic phenomenon. And I’m totally OK with that.

My enthusiasm for sound and acoustics has been with me since long before I joined the Ecophon team. Getting to learn about math and physics just makes it all that much more interesting!”

Follow us to read Part 2 of this story, in which you’ll learn about the remarkable impact Ecophon room acoustic treatment has had on European schools and healthcare environments. Coming soon!

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