SVG Sit-Down: Grass Valley’s new president Tim Shoulders on his role and the company’s future

On January 1, Tim Shoulders was named Grass Valley president, joining the company after most recently serving as GM of Belden’s Broadcast Cable Business. That year-long stint gave the Ball State University graduate and long-time Indianapolis resident a head start on his new role.

“I am not coming in cold to the business,” he says, “and I really have an appreciation for Grass Valley and the industry.”

Shoulders brings a high degree of financial expertise to the position and notes that such a background will be helpful in managing a company that is part of an industry in the midst of massive transition. Whether it is the move to IP, the move from capital to operations expenditure, products transitioning from hardware to software, the move to UHD and HDR, and more, a solid understanding of financial processes and workflows cuts across all of them.

“It’s about keeping the business running efficiently and effectively,” he points out. “That requires a lot of process, the need to identify small issues before they become big ones, and the ability to take a plan and push it down into an organisation.”

During his time at Belden, Shoulders learned the art of putting effective processes into practice and to also make sure that the customer is at the center. That will continue at Grass Valley.

“We need to make sure we understand what challenges they are facing, how to monetise new platforms for digital media, and also how to manage declining ad revenues in traditional segments,” he explains. “We partner with our customers to help them transition effectively.”

His management philosophy begins at surrounding himself with experts who understand their role and are effective at executing the company mission.

“It’s a team-based approach,” he says. “We develop a plan together and execute the plan in a collaborative way that brings together various functions, like sales, marketing, and R&D. The goal is to come up with the best solution to deliver value to our customers and empower them to create and control content whenever and wherever they want.”

Shoulders sees two main advantages in Grass Valley’s relationship with its parent company, Belden.

“First, they have the financial strength of a parent company that can give a lot of flexibility and stability so there can be investments in the business to grow organically or inorganically. That’s important and gives us a competitive advantage in a fragmented market.”

The second advantage is that the 100-year-old Belden has refined a system for running its business. Known as the Belden Business System, it is focused on identifying the right markets to play in and figuring out how to grow by deploying a strategy that includes lean manufacturing to provide value to the customer and a strong balance sheet on the backend. The personnel, Shoulders notes, exist today at Grass Valley to help put those processes in place.

“The team has great customer relationships, and they understand what the customer needs and why they need it,” he says. “And Grass Valley has embraced open standards as part of the AIMS consortium, a really bold decision to lead the industry. That will change the dynamic of how products are purchased as hardware can become more off-the-shelf. Grass Valley is leading the industry at an interesting time. as SMPTE 2110 will gain traction with IP solutions in the ensuing months.”

Up next for Shoulders? He has lived in Indianapolis for roughly 25 years and will relocate to Montreal this summer when his kids finish school.

“I am a consumer of a lot of the content our customers create; I love live media and sports like football and hockey,” he says. “I am also a racing fan; after 25 years in Indianapolis, it is in my DNA.”

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