A touch of glamour

Margaret Craig may come from the less glamorous part of the television industry, but the chief operating officer of Toronto-based Leitch Inc. enjoys her frequent encounters with the glamour side. Getting involved with customers, she says, is her favorite part of working in the business.

Craig found an affinity for the tech side early on. The daughter of an electronics engineer, she describes setting up her dolls in front of her father's waveform monitors and watching the electronic signals move.

After graduating from Iowa State University in 1983, she began watching those signals professionally. As a design engineer in Tektronix's Television Waveform Displays division, she designed vectorscopes and waveform monitors until 1985, attending her first NAB convention in 1984.

"I thought the television business was very glamorous and got caught up in it right away," she says. "Even as a very junior design engineer, I got to spend a lot of time with customers. I found TV stations very interesting."

She also spent time doing project management, engineering and marketing until being promoted to manager of a small software-engineering group. "I was very fortunate to be in a big company where you could move around and do different functions," she says, noting that Tektronix was a bigger company then than it is today and, in fact, made the list of Fortune
magazine's top 1,000 companies.

When Tektronix acquired UK-based Lightworks nonlinear editing system in 1995, Craig went to work for then-Video Division President Lucy Fjeldstad, managing all functions of the 120-employee business. Working from Wilsonville, Ore., she was also responsible for the sales and support organization in Hollywood.

Under Tektronix, however, the business never really took off, due to "creative differences," Craig says. After two years, it was spun off and is currently run by a Montreal-based private group. Craig calls this part of her career "a learning experience," which gave her an understanding of what makes acquisitions work.

Joining Snell & Wilcox in 1997, she ran that UK-based business from Sunnyvale, Calif., as COO. "I think that a big part of running a successful company is not staying at headquarters but getting out where the customers are," she opines.

Craig came to her current job at Leitch last year. Her position is as "hands-on" as any point in her career, and that's the way she likes it. Leitch, with fewer than 1,000 employees, is a "relatively small company" and one, she says, that's going through a lot of change.

She notes her and CEO John MacDonald's "complementary skills" and cites the former telephone executive's lack of a broadcast-industry background as the main reason she joined the company. "Those of us who have worked in this industry for 20 years have to be careful of becoming too insular. We're all from the same gene pool," she quips. "I found a company with the strength of Leitch that brings in a veteran and technical visionary who's not from our space to be very powerful."

Craig is particularly proud of the management team that she and MacDonald have assembled and points out that revenue for the year ended April 30 was $220 million, compared with $163 million during the year-ago period. "I wouldn't say that the broad strategy of the company has changed significantly," she says, "but I think that we've redirected the engineering resources, and the product flow is really starting to demonstrate that now."

After 18 years, she still feels the excitement of working in the television industry. "It was never quite as glamorous as I originally thought," she says. "However, I still think working in a place where technology and creativity come together is much more interesting than a pure-technology industry."