Q&A with Amy Barzdukas, Executive Vice President & Chief Marketing Officer at Poly

MEDIA 7 | November 21, 2019

Amy Barzdukas, EVP and Chief Marketing Officer at Poly is a marketing and communications leader with extensive experience in setting strategy, shifting perceptions, advising customers, digital marketing, revenue marketing, integrated marketing communications, and public relations in highly competitive product arenas.

Amy is known for her ability to create and execute winning turnarounds on a global scale.

MEDIA 7: What inspired you to get into marketing?
AMY BARZDUKAS:
I was always destined for marketing, even if I didn’t know it. As a child, I collected promotional brochures. I was fascinated by how the words and pictures were used to drive action. My first job was as an advertising copywriter, and I’ve never looked back.

M7: How is Poly redefining the video conferencing experience for modern businesses?
AB:
 We’re in an unprecedented time of change in our industry. Voice and video services are moving to the cloud, and companies are changing how they approach their communications needs. Poly is the largest provider of the devices – video conferencing, audio conferencing, headphones and desk phones – you use to connect to these services so you can collaborate with your colleagues. That uniquely positions us to shape the video conferencing experience, and we’re doing so in four ways.

First, Poly has made both the Zoom Rooms and the Microsoft Teams video conferencing experience better than ever with our radically simple Poly Studio X video bars that deliver these experiences with no PC or Mac required. We’ve got decades of experience in understanding what makes meetings more human – for everyone in the room and those dialing in from other locations – and we’ve packed all of that into easy-to-install, easy-to-manage, and easy-to-use all-in-one powerhouses.

Second, we are bringing the world of AV and video conferencing into the modern app economy. Our Studio X series and Poly G7500 video conferencing devices run a common platform that can be updated and enhanced through a series of regular software updates. This Poly platform, built on Android, can run applications like a smartphone does today.

Third, Poly has introduced innovation that makes any video conference better. Our new Poly MeetingAI features use AI and machine learning to address the distractions that hit your senses in a meeting. We make it easier to hear what’s being said by blocking out the annoying noises that people make while talking, and we make it easier to see what’s going on in the room with the most advanced speaker tracking and framing, and our built-in production rules.

Finally, we are pricing our solutions in a way that completely resets the calculations on what it costs to outfit a room. The Studio X30, for huddle room and smaller spaces, costs just about $2,100, including the Poly TC8 touch controller. All you add is the cloud service and a monitor, and you have a room up and running for under $2,500. That’s easily under the cost of other solutions and with better audio and video quality.


"Baby Boomers and more than half of Gen Z say they are most productive when they were working around noise."

M7: As the CMO of Poly, what were the major challenges in rebranding and transforming two separate organizations (Plantronics and Polycom) under a single brand Poly?
AB:
One of the greatest challenges of bringing together Plantronics and Polycom was doing so in a way that honored their brand equity, history, and positive associations while establishing a new story for the new company. Plantronics was already an audio pioneer– the first headset that transmitted Neil Armstrong’s famous words during the first moon landing. Polycom was the leader in audio and video conferencing – the conference phone used by business leaders and industry captains.
We had to figure out how to build a stand-out narrative in a crowded space for the general market. For customers and partners, we found a way to carry through the legacies and histories of both companies into the new brand. And for our employees, we had to inspire them to believe in the new brand and the new combined mission. These different challenges with different stakeholders took different approaches to confront, but in the end, we brought everyone to the same conclusion that Poly was moving forward, unified and stronger.

And like any acquisition, integration takes time. We’re proud of our accomplishments since rebranding to Poly in March 2019. Since then, we’ve refreshed our video conferencing line of products, broken new ground with a mobile phone station called Elara 60 Series and showcased our continued commitment to expanding the ecosystem with partners such as Zoom, Microsoft, Google, Amazon and more. As Poly, we bring a new level of quality, simplicity, and flexibility so that every communication can easily become a place for collaboration and innovation for the enterprise.


"Gen Z and Millennials came up in an era of digitization, so they are more accustomed to the tools and technology to deal with distractions in the workplace."

M7: A recent study by Poly reveals that employees prefer noisier open offices to closed, quiet spaces. What do you think is responsible for driving these unique demands in the workplace today?
AB:
Our research shows that Gen Z and Millennials tend to prefer open offices compared to Gen X and Baby Boomers and that more than half of Gen Z say they are most productive when they were working around noise. What we’re seeing is that Gen Z and Millennials came up in an era of digitization, so they are more accustomed to the tools and technology to deal with distractions in the workplace. For example, they’re used to wearing noise-canceling headphones to block out the background noise, and similarly at home with video. They’ve been doing it all their lives!

Now that we can work from anywhere – coffee shops, airports, waiting rooms – we are more accustomed to dealing with distractions and working through them. We take that mindset into the office along with the tools we may use to address distraction, from a pair of comfortable headphones with ANC to deciding to do different types of work in different settings.

M7: What features have made Poly Studio win the 'Best of Enterprise Connect' award in the '2019 Communication/Collaboration Device'?
AB: 
Poly Studio is our answer to the need for easy-to-use video conferencing devices for smaller spaces called huddle rooms. Poly Studio is a video USB bar with premium audio and video capabilities. Its standout features include NoiseBlock, which mutes distracting background noises, Automatic Group Framing and Speaker Tracking, which zooms in to focus on the speaking participant. This board-room like audio and video transforms small meeting rooms into a center for collaboration. We’re also pleased that it was recently certified for Zoom Rooms and Microsoft Teams. The device also works with Skype for Business, Google Meet, Cisco WebEx and Amazon Chime, and virtually any cloud-based video collaboration service.


"Poly combines legendary audio expertise with powerful video and conferencing capabilities to help our users overcome the distractions, complexity, and distance, making communication in and out of the workplace challenging."

M7: What traits make Poly a global leader in communications and a leading choice for every kind of workspace?
AB:
Our in-depth expertise, tireless innovation, and emphasis on partnership make Poly a global leader in communications and a leading choice for every kind of workspace.

Poly combines legendary audio expertise with powerful video and conferencing capabilities to help our users overcome the distractions, complexity, and distance, making communication in and out of the workplace challenging. When the world was on a race to space in the ’60s, NASA approached us—Plantronics back then—with a seemingly impossible task: create a headset that would equip astronauts to communicate with Mission Control from the earth to the moon, and back again.

Fifty years later, we share the same mission today: to create powerful connections that unify people the world over. We’re designing technology for the different ways people work – open offices, remote locations, mobile-first workers. We are the largest provider of headsets, video and audio-conferencing devices that you use to communicate and collaborate for your work, whatever that may be. And we continue to innovate with products like Poly Studio X that change how people collaborate.
Through partnerships with industry leaders like Microsoft, Amazon, Google, and Zoom, Poly takes an open-architecture approach that allows users to seamlessly connect across all the best technologies. Whenever and wherever people connect with these services, we will be there to provide the best-in-class audio, video and voice technology to make the experience that much better.

M7: What’s your superpower or spirit animal?
AB: 
My superpower is the ability to read amazingly quickly, thanks to the experimental elementary school I attended. I don’t know how anyone gets through their workload without it, honestly. My spirit animal? I told my husband the other day that I think it is Tom Petty. I’m a huge fan. If you have a problem, there is a Tom Petty song that can solve it, or at least make it more fun.

ABOUT POLY

Plantronics, Inc. (“Poly” – formerly Plantronics and Polycom) (NYSE: PLT) is a global communications company that powers meaningful human connection and collaboration. Poly combines legendary audio expertise and powerful video and conferencing capabilities to overcome the distractions, complexity, and distance that make communication in and out of the workplace challenging. Poly believes in solutions that make life easier when they work together and with our partner’s services. Our headsets, software, desk phones, audio and video conferencing, analytics and services are used worldwide and are a leading choice for every kind of workspace.

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Voyager Space Announces George Washington Carver Science Park Terrestrial Lab to be Located at The Ohio State University

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LeaseWorks Advances Novus Aviation Capital’s Digital Transformation

Novus Aviation Capital | September 21, 2022

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Voyager Space Announces George Washington Carver Science Park Terrestrial Lab to be Located at The Ohio State University

Voyager Space | September 20, 2022

Voyager Space (Voyager), today announced it has selected a proposal from The Ohio State University, the State of Ohio, JobsOhio, and One Columbus ("Team Ohio") to locate the terrestrial analog of the George Washington Carver Science Park (GWCSP) at Ohio State in Columbus, Ohio.The GWCSP, established by Voyager and its operating company Nanoracks, is expected to be a core element of Starlab, the companies' proposed commercial space station. In December 2021, Voyager and Nanoracks won a $160 million award from NASA to design Starlab as part of NASA's Commercial Destination Free Flyers (CDFF) effort. The GWCSP is the world's first-ever science park in space, operating today on the International Space Station ("ISS"). The GWCSP leverages a successful terrestrial business model where scientists and industry experts share findings, collaborate, and use new technologies to advance both scientific and commercial endeavors. Together, Team Ohio and Voyager agreed to a two-phase program to realize the development of the GWCSP terrestrial lab. The project is still pending review and approval of incentives from JobsOhio and the Ohio Department of Development. The effort will begin this year with a facility at Ohio State's College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences. Next year, the organizations plan to break ground on a stand-alone facility on the Ohio State Aerospace and Air Transportation Campus, home to The Ohio State University Airport (KOSU), Ohio State's Aerospace Research Center, Knowlton Executive Flight Terminal and Education Center, and a range of corporate, government, and private aviation and aerospace activities. "Ohio is the birthplace of aviation and has a deep-rooted history in aerospace and defense innovation,. It's clear that Ohio offers the most beneficial location for a terrestrial facility to support the long-term success and utilization of George Washington Carver Science Park. Company researchers, operators, visionaries, and space change makers in Ohio will have the ability to influence and inspire organizations pursuing aerospace research and development and we are thrilled to be partnering with Team Ohio on this exciting project." Dylan Taylor, Chairman and CEO of Voyager Space Ohio's colleges and universities collectively graduate more than 13,000 engineers and engineering technicians each year. The state is home to more than 110,000 public and private aerospace and aviation professionals, as well as the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Battelle, the NASA Glenn Research Center, the NASA Armstrong Test Facility and the Ohio Unmanned Aircraft Systems Center, which is pioneering innovative technologies to allow drones to fly safely beyond the visual line of sight. The George Washington Carver Science Park is a wonderful example of the powerful synergies that Ohio offers to commercial space ventures,said Ohio Governor Mike DeWine. This landmark partnership at the intersection of aerospace and agriculture is extraordinary. Together, we will accelerate transformational aerospace technologies as Ohio continues to lead this nation into the Aerospace Age of the 21st Century. The proposed site of the temporary GWCSP is located within the existing laboratory, classroom, office, and meeting space at the Agricultural Engineering Building on the Ohio State campus. In addition to research, teaching, and service operations, this facility is also home to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service ("ARS") (ars.usda.gov). NASA and USDA have more than 120 joint space agricultural research activities in progress currently. By collaborating with Team Ohio, Voyager Space is launching one of the most creative public-private partnerships in one of the most sought-after space destinations on this planet," said Dr. John Horack, inaugural holder of the Neil Armstrong Chair in Aerospace Policy in the College of Engineering and John Glenn College of Public Affairs at The Ohio State University. "We know this initial collaborative investment will transform into a broader commercial space research magnet that serves as the primary North American site for the George Washington Carver Science Park. In my conversations with the Voyager and Nanoracks team, I assured them that Ohio was 100 percent committed to being a leading innovator in aviation and aerospace," said Lt. Governor Jon Husted, Director of InnovateOhio. "This partnership between Nanoracks, Voyager and Ohio State represents a significant step toward leading this nation into on-orbit, human commercial space operations, and the people of Ohio will be playing an important role in the future. The decision to establish the George Washington Carver Science Park at The Ohio State University provides Voyager/Nanoracks direct access to some of the world's leading research," said J.P. Nauseef, JobsOhio president and CEO. "This commercial space laboratory will be the most advanced of its kind on Earth, bolstered in Ohio by 100,000 university researchers, faculty, staff and students, as well as partnerships between public, private and academic resources that will fuel the innovations that make sustained life in space possible. The research conducted at the GWCSP terrestrial lab will aim to generate positive social, economic, educational, and quality-of-life outcomes for a broad range of constituents, in particular, the Ohio agriculture community. Some of these benefits include research to preserve Ohio's water quality, provide better crop production and improve plant and animal genetics for Ohio's agricultural community. We have only just begun to scratch the surface of the possibilities and opportunities that await us in the 'final frontier,' and our ability to maximize future exploration hinges on collaboration between scientists and industry experts," says President of The Ohio State University, Kristina M. Johnson. Locating the terrestrial lab of the George Washington Carver Science Park on Ohio State's campus will be the best possible way to facilitate this joint effort and ensure we are sharing resources, research and knowledge across multiple disciplines.The GWCSP terrestrial lab is set to include high-bay laboratory space, suitable for scientific research experiments that span the entire range of Starlab activities, procedure development, testing, prototyping, and other activities essential on the path to spaceflight research. The George Washington Carver Science Park honors the legacy of the famed American agricultural scientist and inventor who developed hundreds of food products and practical, sustainable farming methods. The George Washington Carver Science Park is the first space-dedicated member of the International Association of Science Parks (IASP), a catalyst for global participation in the space research ecosystem. Additionally, Ohio-based Zin Technologies (ZIN) and the Universities Space Research Association (USRA), a Washington D.C.-based company with a long-standing presence in Ohio, are part of the founding GWCSP leadership team. ZIN is advising on the overall GWCSP in-space lab design and will develop key hardware as needed. USRA will direct and manage the science park, prioritize and schedule research, and oversee scientific lab operations. About Voyager Space Voyager Space is a space technology company dedicated to building a better future for humanity in space and on Earth. With nearly 20 years of spaceflight heritage and over 1500 successful missions as of August 2022, Voyager delivers space station infrastructure and services and technology solutions to commercial users, civil and national security government agencies, academic and research institutions, and more, with the goal to accelerate a sustainable space economy.

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