The Silicon Review
"Market leader for installed audio-Nearly 50% global market share.”
ClearOne was founded in 1983, initially focused on supplying specialized equipment for broadcasting industry. Today, the company enhances communication and collaboration for organizations worldwide from the Fortune 500 to small-and medium-sized organizations. Based on specific customer demand for quality audio conferencing equipment, ClearOne designed and introduced professional audio conferencing products and enlarged the audio conferencing portfolio of products to include tabletop audio conferencing products and USB-based personal audio conferencing products. Now, ClearOne is a one-stop shop for all conferencing and collaboration needs that includes audio conferencing, video conferencing, media collaboration, microphones, network media streaming and signage.
Going candid with the Key Executive; Zee Hakimoglu
How big is your organization today? Briefly explain the organizational structure?
We have approximately 150 full-time employees and consultants worldwide. We have offices worldwide including Salt Lake City Utah, Gainesville Florida, Austin Texas, Tel Aviv Israel, and Zaragoza Spain. Our sales teams are located in various cities across the world serving their own regional markets. Our international offices are generally Research and Development centers. Our headquarters is located in Utah where our operations, finance, and admin teams, as well as some R&D, are located.
Are there any trigger factors/events/individuals that have played key roles in shaping your organization’s road map?
Our organization’s roadmap originates as early concepts in the product team and quickly expands to include multiple strategic organizations. The roadmap may require R&D, finance, operations, outside business partners, and technology partners, and may span the space from patent origination all the way to acquisition identification and closure. Multiple teams and key employee specialists are involved through all phases of the roadmap from definition to implementation.
As an example, we wanted to bring video technology to ClearOne. This involved the identification of acquisition targets by the product team, the executive team, and with subsequent participation by R&D, finance, and operations to execute. We made 4 strategic video-related company acquisitions which shaped our roadmap. The same process was involved for our fifth acquisition for a wireless conferencing microphone manufacturer.
‘It is difficult to start a venture. But far more difficult to maintain it’ – How would you and your team interpret this saying?
It can be more difficult to maintain the spirit of innovation within an organization than to simply look at new additions or even acquisitions to maintain a fresh perspective. This is a double-edged sword, as the existing talent can become so integral in understanding the most efficient ways to accomplish things within the organization’s structure – as well as pushing to create new efficiencies by updating processes. New talent can offer new insight; but also may be inefficient with the learning curves and meshing of different approaches.
What challenges do you face while maintaining a positive workplace atmosphere?
We live in a high-pressure, eat-or-be-eaten, high-tech environment; competing with the largest players in a global market.
We strive to support our channel partners, their end customers, as well as supporting our employees. At the same time, as we are a publicly listed NASDAQ company, we must also work to support our investors. We balance investments and spend our limited resources for projects and activities that bring profitability for the company and partners while creating an interactive, challenging, and growth-oriented environment for our employees. We make critical decisions every day to use our resources and internal talents to their utmost potential. In the midst of this active and evolving environment, we come together as cross-functional teams, and joyously celebrate our wins in the marketplace. We genuinely and consistently foster innovation in every employee, from the largest product releases to the smallest process improvements within each organization at ClearOne.
Do you think there is a relationship between employee satisfaction and their performance?
There is certainly a relationship between employee satisfaction and performance. ClearOne works to provide the most flexibility possible with personal time off and work hours recognizing work/life needs and the ebb and flow of project deadlines. By providing more control at the departmental level, employees can better work with managers to tailor certain times of heavy workloads with that of lesser deadlines and obligations outside the office. Our work environment is suited for individuals that thrive on challenges and want to see their own individual contributions directly impact the company’s success. Challenges span technology, sales and marketing, operations and finance. As a public company, our employees’ personal drive for success brings rewards for their personal career growth as well as rewards to our shareholders. We incent our employees for inventiveness & creativity, ownership & responsibility of their role and project and hard work & commitment to their team. Hard work and creativity are rewarded.
Where do you see you and your team a couple of years from now?
Although we are known for our history and continual innovation of audio solutions, we push ahead in educating customers about our video solutions with the integration of pro audio.
Meet the Key Executive
Zee Hakimoglu, President, CEO and Chairman of the Board: Zee Hakimoglu joined ClearOne in December 2003 with more than 15 years of executive high-tech management experience. Prior to being appointed President and CEO, she served as ClearOne’s Vice President of product line management. In 2007, Hakimoglu was named North American Audio Conferencing CEO of the Year by Frost & Sullivan. In 2009, under Hakimoglu’s leadership, ClearOne was named one of America’s fastest growing small public companies by Fortune Small Business magazine.
Prior to serving as CEO at ClearOne, she served in a variety of executive management roles including business development, product development and product marketing for several publicly traded companies. Hakimoglu earned a bachelor’s degree in physics from California State College, Sonoma, and a master’s degree in physics from Drexel University.