Naomi Climer recognized for major contributions to the industry with lifetime IABM Honorary Membership

Naomi Climer recognized for major contributions to the industry with lifetime IABM Honorary Membership


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Naomi Climer recognized for major contributions to the industry with lifetime IABM Honorary Membership

Mon 16, 12 2019

Naomi Climer CBE is the latest industry luminary to be awarded lifetime Honorary IABM Membership. The honor was officially presented at IABM’s Annual International Business Conference and Awards on 4th December 2019.

Naomi joins an exclusive club of people who have had an enormous impact on the broadcast and media industry as it has grown and developed over the last 40+ years. This illustrious group comprises Alan Brill, Roger Crumpton, Jan Eveleens, John Ive, Larry Kaplan, Lyle Keys, David MacGregor, Mike Martin, Derek Owen, Peter Owen, John Ross, Martin Salter, Clyde Smith and Roderick Snell.

Open to opportunity

Naomi modestly describes her stellar 30+ year career in the broadcast and media industry as a combination of “Serendipity and being interested in, and open to, new things.” She graduated from Imperial College in London with a Chemistry degree in 1986. “My father’s an engineer, and he always said I should be an engineer –so like any self-respecting teenage girl, I ignored his advice and did something different,” Naomi recalls with a smile. “But after university, I soon realized I didn’t really want to spend my life as chemist, and I happened to notice the BBC advertising for non-engineering graduates to convert to engineers. This was part of a positive action campaign to try and get more diversity into their engineering workforce. It sounded rather fun and I got the job, but the moment I started working at the BBC, I knew it was for me – I absolutely loved it.”

Real world experience

“After training as a maintenance engineer, I moved into project management at the BBC,” Naomi continues. “I then took a break to move to the Channel Islands in the early 90s and as luck would have it, this was just at the time when independent radio licences came up in Jersey and Guernsey – so I applied and became the chief (actually only!) engineer of Independent Radio and got stuck right in building the stations from scratch.” This chance move proved to be a watershed in Naomi’s career. “I learned an awful lot – how to cut corners, save money and really got my head round the broadcast chain as well as working closely with marketing and the producers. I also got to understand the P&L side of a business – how the real world works. I think it was the best training I could possibly have.”

Learning lessons

Naomi returned to the mainland in 1994 and back to the BBC, where her already rich operational experience made her first choice as Controller Technology in News, ultimately becoming a board member of BBC News. In 2000, she moved over to ITN to oversee the ultimately doomed ITV Digital project – which subsequently became the Freeview service that everyone in the UK benefits from today. “Although its demise had an inevitability about it despite all our very best efforts, it was an amazing journey I wouldn’t have missed. It was very painful at the time but I learned lessons during that period that I’m still applying today,” Naomi reflects.

Another job opportunity immediately appeared with Sony Professional Services Europe, and Naomi promptly jumped the fence to the supply side of the industry to begin what turned into a 13-year career with the company, initially as Director of Professional Services and subsequently, Vice President. In this role, she had P&L responsibility for around $1bn of product, solutions and services business across EMEA and expanding into a wide range of verticals alongside broadcast and media – cinema, healthcare, security, education, sports and venues. “It was interesting seeing how broadcast technology was suddenly becoming applicable in all sorts of other verticals,” Naomi remembers.

Moving to the cloud

In 2012, “The cloud popped up and was evidently going to be a tool for broadcasters” in Naomi’s words. “It was really time for a change and I was seduced by the cloud model. Even now there are still technology issues to be overcome, but the impact it could have on worker flexibility – enabling people to contribute and engage in ways they couldn’t before – just really fascinated me. The recurring revenue business model also looked really interesting.” Prescient indeed! As a result, Naomi took up the role of President, Sony Media Cloud Services, and moved to California for three years to incubate and build Sony’s Media Cloud Services business for the global B2B environment.

Back to earth

In 2015, Naomi moved back the UK to become President of the IET, leading the board to deliver the IET’s vision of ‘working to engineer a better world by inspiring, informing and influencing everyone affected by engineering’. She has some advice for busy young engineers as a result. “I really wish I had engaged with all the opportunities the IET offers earlier. It gives junior people the chance to mingle with very senior people and chair committees –really great development opportunities. I would urge young people to engage early with their professional body.”

Subsequently, Naomi was invited to chair the UK government’s DCMS Future Communications Challenge Group, which she did from 2016 to mid-2017, and she also became Governor of the National Film and Television School from 2017-18. Today she holds several non-executive director, chair and trustee positions, with the greater part of her time given over to the charitable ones alongside an important non-exec role at Sony UK Technology Centre working with the board on Industry 4.0 transformation, new business models and mentoring its talented women.


In the Queen’s 2018 Birthday Honours, Naomi was awarded a CBE for services to the engineering profession. Naomi’s response is typical of her modesty. “It was an extraordinary surprise. I got a letter in the post saying the Queen is minded to give you a CBE and I just turned it over and over in my hand and called my husband over and said, ‘Do you think this is joke?’! To be honest, I am definitely suffering from impostor syndrome on this!”

Championing women

Naomi has held top positions over the last 30 years in an industry that remains heavily male dominated, something that continues to concern her – “progress towards gender diversity has been glacial,” she says. As the current Chair of IBC Council, Naomi has enthusiastically supported IBC’s efforts on gender diversity; the IBC conference boasted 37% women speakers in 2018 – but the chasm is still obvious when you walk the show floor, reflecting the heavy gender imbalance in the industry. “The IET did some research that suggests people’s minds are almost set when they’re young children – between the ages of five and eight. We need to address this with parents, grandparents and the teachers, many of whom still seem to have outdated views of the role of women. That’s an obvious place to start, but changing attitudes is not easy.”

Opportunities and threats

How can IABM members keep up with our rapidly changing industry? “I think there are threats and opportunities. Firstly, being awake to the threats and countering them is really important –for example, new players who just pop up out of nowhere and disrupt. You have to face up to them and keep scanning the horizon, and be brave and open to understanding who the competition really is – and not just the names that you’ve maybe traditionally looked at. Secondly, really ask yourself about the opportunities; it’s not as easy as it looks to just pop into a bunch of adjacent markets because you need different expertise. Notwithstanding this, there is a much bigger marketplace out there now, with video of relatively professional quality being used so widely; the opportunity to grow into adjacent markets is there. Finally, consider the recurring revenue business model to go after new customers, which you need to move into alongside continuing to serve customers who are still in the traditional space. It’s the classic innovator’s dilemma,” Naomi observes.

Time to relax

What does Naomi get up to when she’s not lending her expertise to the many organisations she works with today? “I love sailing. We have a 7-berth catamaran that my husband built with his father 25 years ago. It may not be the glamourous end of yachting, but we’ve sailed down to Italy and up to Copenhagen in it. I’m also a biker – I’ve got a Triumph Trident and a BMW 1200RT. Family is very important to me and I love just socialising too!” she concludes.

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