Zee Hakimoglu Relies on Scientific Knowledge to Lead ClearOne on a Growth Curve
NAME: Zee Hakimoglu
TITLE: President, CEO, and Chairman of the Board
OVERTIME: Hakimoglu applies the big-picture problem solving and rigorous thinking of her physics background to business and product development decisions.
SCN: You earned a bachelor’s degree in physics from California State College, Sonoma, and a master’s degree in physics from Drexel University. What was it that drew you to this field of study? How has that science influenced your leadership decisions in an audiovisual industry populated by a great many engineers?
Zee Hakimoglu: A physics degree, like an engineering degree, is academically tough and it requires long hours. Similar to my current job, while it may not be academically tough, it’s tough and it requires long hours and you have to be committed to do it.
In 2009, ClearOne acquired NetStreams and was named one of America’s fastest growing small public companies by Fortune Small Business magazine. Recently, the company also acquired MagicBox.
Physics covers a broad spectrum of physical phenomena from astrophysics to nanotechnology. It’s a degree that encourages bigpicture problem solving; it requires taking a complex system and boiling it down to the most simple, fundamental elements. So again, in my current job, I’m always looking for big-picture solutions.
It’s also a discipline that requires you to possess classic knowledge, but it also encourages innovation. Advancements in physics have always come about by bringing in other disciplines to help intercept problems with novel solutions. So I find that my physics degree is the best training for my position.
SCN: Prior to serving as CEO at ClearOne, you served in a variety of executive management roles including business development, product development, and product marketing for several publicly traded technology companies. What would you say has been the common thread in your management style?
ZH: My prior roles have really prepared me for the CEO role. Engineering trains you to ask whether something can be done. Product management asks if it solves a real-world problem and is there a market for it. And business is managing all the other associated functions that need to go along with a successful business enterprise.
At the core of a high-tech company is product development and product marketing. There is a focus on coming up with profitable and engaging products that solve real-world problems in the enterprise environment. I look at every problem as a challenge with elements of technology, finance, marketing, and business development in it.
Zee Hakimoglu’s vision for ClearOne is to add functionality to its conferencing and collaboration platforms.
SCN: In 2009, ClearOne acquired NetStreams and was named one of America’s fastest growing small public companies by Fortune Small Business magazine. Recently, the company acquired MagicBox. How does digital signage fit into ClearOne’s product strategy?
ZH: Conferencing and collaboration are the core of what we do, but we’re trying to add functionality to our platforms. NetStreams provided the transport infrastructure for video networking. Magic Box brings the ability for content development, content scheduling, and database integration. So now we have a complete end-to-end IPbased solution for video networking for various applications, whether it be digital signage or enterprise content distribution.
The market for that is broad—hospitality, enterprise, network infotainment, education, government—commercial audio and video integration shares many common verticals and that’s why we’re doing it. Our channel is always looking to grow their business and extend their expertise. Video networking is a very good way to help our channel grow their business and bring better value to their existing customers.
SCN: As the business of commercial audio and video integration continues to evolve, how will ClearOne serve this marketplace?
ZH: We see the market really evolving. There’s two things for us. There’s network convergence from the infrastructure side, and there’s application convergence, where voice, data, and video are everywhere.
The way we see the market, conferencing and collaboration is one big picture, and multimedia streaming and control is another. We’re integrating them. That’s our direction.
Kirsten Nelson is the editor of SCN.