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Interview: Aidan Williams on succeeding Lee Ellison as CEO of Audinate

In May, Audinate revealed that the company's CTO and co-founder Aidan Williams would succeed Lee Ellison as CEO, following Ellison’s retirement on 13th September. Duncan Proctor caught up with Williams to get his thoughts

At the time of the announcement, Audinate’s chairman David Krall commented: “Lee has been a key contributor to the growth of Audinate, and the results speak for themselves. Under Lee’s leadership as CEO over the past 11 years, Audinate has become the global market leader in audio networking for the professional AV industry. Lee led the company through its successful IPO in June 2017, and since its listing Audinate has consistently delivered strong results and record growth.”

On the transition, Ellison said: “I am most proud about the passionate team at Audinate that has contributed to our overall success and is brilliantly executing on the growth strategy that has been put in place. I am comforted in my decision to enter retirement, believing the time is right to hand the leadership over to Aidan. Aidan, and the rest of our experienced executive leadership team, have built a close working relationship over many years, and I am confident that Audinate will continue to thrive under his leadership. As the defacto standard and most trusted brand in audio networking for the professional AV industry, and with us now adding video capability to our product portfolio, Audinate is in a great position to capitalise on our vision to pioneer the future of AV.”

Is is somewhat daunting to follow Lee Ellison given the success of the company under his leadership?
Lee and I have been partners developing the Audinate business since he joined the company in 2008. He has done a great job growing the business from humble beginnings to where we are today. Far from being daunted, I’m excited by the opportunities we have ahead of us!

Did you have any reservations about taking on the role?
Any senior role comes with responsibilities that should properly be weighed; however, I’m delighted to be able to serve as CEO and be involved in shaping the future of AV for the industry.

In the interim, how have you and the company prepared for this transition?
Lee and the board went through a process of evaluating candidates, including myself and put in place a development plan and a transition plan which we have been working through over the last 12-18 months.

What do you see as your first order of business?
The first order of business is continuity during the transition. I’ve been involved in setting our strategic direction since the beginning of Audinate and have had a lot of contact with customers and investors over the years, which has smoothed the transition process.

What are your main mid-to long-term aims for Audinate going forward?
Networking technology has the potential to transform the AV industry. IT equipment and software have the potential to deliver innovative new AV solutions and improved quality whilst reducing costs. We want to keep providing our manufacturing partners and users with a rich toolbox of Dante hardware, software and services that enable transformation around IT technology and networking.

Does Audinate’s position as a global leader make it harder in any way for you to come up with goals?
We have always had lofty goals for the technology – so the long-term vision is unchanged. However, as Dante becomes more popular and the industry shifts, we have many more opportunities opening up and that creates challenges around prioritisation and focus.

What’s one advantage and one drawback of coming into this role from within the company as opposed to from outside?
The biggest advantage is that I’m largely a known quantity. As co-founder, I’ve been involved in many sides of the Audinate business since the beginning, so staff, customers and investors broadly know what to expect. One drawback is that more of my time will be spent on the administrative side of the business, however I’m well supported by an able team of senior executives.