TechSmith CEO Plans to Continue Father’s Legacy of Growth, Inclusion
Wendy Hamilton was cruising along in her career as the global head of life sciences at Thomson Reuters when she got the call from her dad, William Hamilton. He told her was planning to step down as president of TechSmith, the Okemos, MI-based maker of business and educational software that he co-founded and nurtured since 1987.
“We had never had a serious discussion of me joining the company,” she recalled. “I was very happy with my career in biotech. But even though I wanted to be in senior management, I also missed the hands-on innovation of working with entrepreneurs. My father encouraged me to stay at my job, but a series of events made me realize [joining TechSmith] would be a great fit.”
So Hamilton officially came on board last fall as TechSmith’s executive vice president before being appointed as the company’s CEO in March. Prior to working at Thompson Reuters, she spent more than 15 years with Liquent, a digital publisher and Adobe Ventures startup.
“My priority is to grow the company,” Hamilton said of her leadership plans. “Over the past five years, TechSmith has been focused on establishing our portfolio of new products, but not on growth. We probably spread ourselves too thin. We need to make some hard decisions about product lines and double down.”
William Hamilton founded the company to create custom software but soon realized there was a need for products that helped people utilize ever-changing technology to communicate with one another. TechSmith’s top sellers are Camtasia, which enables even novice users to create interactive videos, and Snagit, screen-capture software that allows users to grab and enhance images. Both products have earned awards from PCMag.
TechSmith surpassed $50 million in revenue in 2012, and today, TechSmith’s team is up to about 260 people selling desktop, mobile, and cloud-based products globally.
“The market is incredible—video is going crazy right now, and we empower videographers,” Hamilton explained. “We took our eye off our core products to concentrate on new products, but our core products still have major growth potential.”
Hamilton partially credits her career success to the professional support system she’s been able to find along the way. Her father, a big believer in STEM [science, technology, engineering, and math] education for young women, encouraged her to pursue studies in science, math, and technology from an early age. She said she’s also been lucky to have supportive male bosses throughout her career.
“You learn to build confidence and find your voice,” she added. “It’s the Sheryl Sandberg philosophy of not being afraid to take risks and fail. My dad has a long legacy of contributing to STEM education and hiring diverse job candidates, and I think that also rubbed off on me.”
Hamilton said her intention is for TechSmith to be a role model in terms of recruiting and grooming a diverse IT workforce. TechSmith is “pretty much always hiring” due to the challenge of finding qualified employees from all walks of life. Because TechSmith tends to use multidisciplinary methods of software development, Hamilton said everyone on the team must be comfortable with one another and not be afraid to ask for help.
“That can be challenging for women,” she said. “That’s why our culture needs to have a community feel. Our mission is to empower people to create remarkable videos and media, and we’re really founded on the democratization of technology.”
According to Hamilton, TechSmith plans to continue its growth trajectory. “We have a lot of first-in-class ideas that we plan on bringing to market,” she said.