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Hall of Fame: Tim Baxter : On Solid Ground

Tim Baxter, President of Samsung Electronics America

January 15, 2014 By Jeff O'Heir
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Baxter developed that vision and those skills working in management and marketing for 13 years at ATT Lucent, where he helped to establish new retail channels and partner programs (and had a chance to work in the same division as his father). He then spent 10 years at Sony, where he managed the CE and telecom divisions, developed corporate strategies and lead his team during the Blu-ray/HD format war. Seven years ago, Baxter landed at Samsung, starting off as executive vice president of sales and marketing and becoming president in 2009, assisting the CE giant in transitioning from a fast follower to a market leader in the U.S.
Despite his success, Baxter said the most important lesson he has learned and continues to follow at Samsung is to “stay hungry.”
“At Samsung, that’s ingrained in your DNA,” Baxter said. “There’s the view that staying hungry means staying in a bit of a perennial-crisis mode, and that drives the behavior that keeps you on top of your game.”
Other than managing Samsung’s CE channel and the company’s key strategic projects in the U.S., Baxter spends a good chunk of his time today recruiting and developing talent. It requires “soft skills” and, going back to the lessons learned from his father, an ability to connect with people on a professional and personal level. “You have to be willing and comfortable rolling up your leaves to deal with the tactile and strategic things,” said Baxter, who practices an open-door style of management that requires honest communication from both sides.
Baxter takes the same approach when working with dealers, no matter what size they are. “The partnerships we have with retailers and distributors are grounded in openness,. We continue to find areas of improvement and make recommendations, as our dealers do with us,” he said. “We’re quite frank with each other.”
Gregg Richard, president of P.C. Richard & Sons, said that style has fostered a successful and valued partnership between the retailer and Baxter for nearly 20 years.
“Even though Tm’s a big executive, he’s still down in the trenches,” Richard said. “I’m sure he has great relationships with the big national players, but he still finds the time to work with the local, regional dealers. He’s still very grounded and strives to understand your point of view from all of the different aspects of retail, not just one segment. He’s very connected to local retailers” DS


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