Avid’s Arnold promises positive change and return to greatness; Vegas presence planned during NAB

By Ken Kerschbaumer

It’s only been three weeks but Avid Technology’s Kirk Arnold, executive vice president and general manager of the company’s professional video business unit, is promising a new attitude and focus on the professional video market that should have customers concerned that Avid has lost its way in terms of client support and company focus more confident in the company’s direction.

“Over the past 15 years I’ve spend a lot of time in the general manager role at businesses going through a transformation and I have a passion for working at companies that were once great and helping them return to greatness,” says Arnold.

Avid shareholders at least seem to be bullish as the stock as climbed nearly 25% since early February, hovering around $25 a share. Arnold says she has four objectives in the mid-term: increase the value of Avid products, workflows, and services through improved quality and functionality; focus on advancing the technical and customer support programs; target and invest in the media professional community; and engage customers in a tangible way.

That work will include an unofficial presence in Las Vegas during NAB. Avid pulled out of the show for 2008 in an effort to refocus its energy on product and customer development instead of booth development. “We will be running some customer appreciation events in Las Vegas and we will also be on the floor with some of our partners,” says Arnold.

Arnold believes her past experience taking businesses of large scale and putting the right kind of personnel and customer support structures in place will serve her well in her new role.

“I’ve been struck by the fact that our customers want us to be successful and they are looking for responsiveness from us,” says Arnold. “If the answer is going to be ‘no’ they just want a quick ‘no.’ We will be looking to make our communications more clear and our programs richer.”

That also means helping customers more easily meet their needs to do more with less and work with new content distribution strategies. “It all goes back to [corporate] culture,” adds Arnold.

While Avid was expected to make some announcements pertaining to that cultural shift and future developments by the end of February Arnold says customers and investors will need to wait a few more weeks.

Prior to joining Avid, Arnold served as vice-chairman and CEO of Keane, a leading provider of business transformation and outsourcing services. Before that, she was executive vice president of product development and management for Fidelity Investments, where she was responsible for marketing and consulting services in addition to product management and development.

Prior to joining Fidelity, Arnold was president and CEO of NerveWire Inc., a venture-backed services business which she helped to launch in 2000, and grew to $40 million in revenues and 300 employees. Before launching NerveWire, Kirk spent six years at Computer Sciences Corp., where she was president of CSC Consulting, a $1 billion business with over 5,000 professionals servicing companies across the globe. Arnold started her career at IBM where she served in a variety of sales and sales management positions.