Pablo Munguia began piano lessons in Mexico City at age five, but the lessons soon ended, he says, “when the teacher told my parents I had no interest, no inclination, and no talent.”
Now Munguia is a renowned music producer and audio engineer who has been nominated for 16 Primetime Emmy Awards and won six. He was on the audio team responsible for several Super Bowl halftime shows, traditionally the most-watched musical event of the year in the United States. Last year it featured Lady Gaga; this year Justin Timberlake was slated. “You must wow an audience of 100 million viewers and build a set from scratch right on the field,” he says. “The pressure is tremendous.”
Munguia has collaborated on the American Music Awards, the Grammys, the MTV Video Music Awards, the BET Awards, and more. He worked on American Idol, The X Factor, and the opening ceremonies of the Special Olympics in China. He also directs the master’s program in music production, technology, and innovation at Berklee College of Music’s campus in Valencia, Spain.
A mix of engineering degrees prepared Munguia for his career. He earned two degrees in materials science and engineering: a bachelor’s from MIT and a master’s from the University of Texas at Austin in 1994. In 1997, he earned a degree from Berklee in music production and engineering.
He began his career as a research scientist at IBM, fabricating the world’s first diode that emits light in the visible range. Then he moved to Los Angeles to join Westlake Audio, where he worked with the industry’s top producers and engineers, like Quincy Jones and David Foster, and recording stars including Celine Dion, Mariah Carey, Carole King, Alicia Keys, and others. Later, he started his own production company, Maraka Music.
“MIT puts you against the best people in the world, and you realize that you are not the best,” he says. “It was a huge lesson. MIT taught me to continue in the face of failure. It was invaluable to gain the ability to face any situation, win or lose.”
Munguia lives in Europe with his wife, Fernanda Sequeiros, and their one-year-old son, Ari, “who was born right in the middle of Oscar rehearsals.” For fun, he runs marathons. In his free time, he seldom listens to music—because, he says, “I immediately start to analyze it.”