Q&A with Amy Barzdukas, Executive Vice President & Chief Marketing Officer at Poly

Amy Barzdukas, EVP and Chief Marketing Officer at Poly is a marketing and communications leader with extensive experience in setting strategy, shifting perceptions, advising customers, digital marketing, revenue marketing, integrated marketing communications, and public relations in highly competitive product arenas.

Amy is known for her ability to create and execute winning turnarounds on a global scale.

MEDIA 7: What inspired you to get into marketing?
AMY BARZDUKAS:
I was always destined for marketing, even if I didn’t know it. As a child, I collected promotional brochures. I was fascinated by how the words and pictures were used to drive action. My first job was as an advertising copywriter, and I’ve never looked back.

M7: How is Poly redefining the video conferencing experience for modern businesses?
AB:
 We’re in an unprecedented time of change in our industry. Voice and video services are moving to the cloud, and companies are changing how they approach their communications needs. Poly is the largest provider of the devices – video conferencing, audio conferencing, headphones and desk phones – you use to connect to these services so you can collaborate with your colleagues. That uniquely positions us to shape the video conferencing experience, and we’re doing so in four ways.

First, Poly has made both the Zoom Rooms and the Microsoft Teams video conferencing experience better than ever with our radically simple Poly Studio X video bars that deliver these experiences with no PC or Mac required. We’ve got decades of experience in understanding what makes meetings more human – for everyone in the room and those dialing in from other locations – and we’ve packed all of that into easy-to-install, easy-to-manage, and easy-to-use all-in-one powerhouses.

Second, we are bringing the world of AV and video conferencing into the modern app economy. Our Studio X series and Poly G7500 video conferencing devices run a common platform that can be updated and enhanced through a series of regular software updates. This Poly platform, built on Android, can run applications like a smartphone does today.

Third, Poly has introduced innovation that makes any video conference better. Our new Poly MeetingAI features use AI and machine learning to address the distractions that hit your senses in a meeting. We make it easier to hear what’s being said by blocking out the annoying noises that people make while talking, and we make it easier to see what’s going on in the room with the most advanced speaker tracking and framing, and our built-in production rules.

Finally, we are pricing our solutions in a way that completely resets the calculations on what it costs to outfit a room. The Studio X30, for huddle room and smaller spaces, costs just about $2,100, including the Poly TC8 touch controller. All you add is the cloud service and a monitor, and you have a room up and running for under $2,500. That’s easily under the cost of other solutions and with better audio and video quality.


"Baby Boomers and more than half of Gen Z say they are most productive when they were working around noise."

M7: As the CMO of Poly, what were the major challenges in rebranding and transforming two separate organizations (Plantronics and Polycom) under a single brand Poly?
AB:
One of the greatest challenges of bringing together Plantronics and Polycom was doing so in a way that honored their brand equity, history, and positive associations while establishing a new story for the new company. Plantronics was already an audio pioneer– the first headset that transmitted Neil Armstrong’s famous words during the first moon landing. Polycom was the leader in audio and video conferencing – the conference phone used by business leaders and industry captains.
We had to figure out how to build a stand-out narrative in a crowded space for the general market. For customers and partners, we found a way to carry through the legacies and histories of both companies into the new brand. And for our employees, we had to inspire them to believe in the new brand and the new combined mission. These different challenges with different stakeholders took different approaches to confront, but in the end, we brought everyone to the same conclusion that Poly was moving forward, unified and stronger.

And like any acquisition, integration takes time. We’re proud of our accomplishments since rebranding to Poly in March 2019. Since then, we’ve refreshed our video conferencing line of products, broken new ground with a mobile phone station called Elara 60 Series and showcased our continued commitment to expanding the ecosystem with partners such as Zoom, Microsoft, Google, Amazon and more. As Poly, we bring a new level of quality, simplicity, and flexibility so that every communication can easily become a place for collaboration and innovation for the enterprise.


"Gen Z and Millennials came up in an era of digitization, so they are more accustomed to the tools and technology to deal with distractions in the workplace."

M7: A recent study by Poly reveals that employees prefer noisier open offices to closed, quiet spaces. What do you think is responsible for driving these unique demands in the workplace today?
AB:
Our research shows that Gen Z and Millennials tend to prefer open offices compared to Gen X and Baby Boomers and that more than half of Gen Z say they are most productive when they were working around noise. What we’re seeing is that Gen Z and Millennials came up in an era of digitization, so they are more accustomed to the tools and technology to deal with distractions in the workplace. For example, they’re used to wearing noise-canceling headphones to block out the background noise, and similarly at home with video. They’ve been doing it all their lives!

Now that we can work from anywhere – coffee shops, airports, waiting rooms – we are more accustomed to dealing with distractions and working through them. We take that mindset into the office along with the tools we may use to address distraction, from a pair of comfortable headphones with ANC to deciding to do different types of work in different settings.

M7: What features have made Poly Studio win the 'Best of Enterprise Connect' award in the '2019 Communication/Collaboration Device'?
AB: 
Poly Studio is our answer to the need for easy-to-use video conferencing devices for smaller spaces called huddle rooms. Poly Studio is a video USB bar with premium audio and video capabilities. Its standout features include NoiseBlock, which mutes distracting background noises, Automatic Group Framing and Speaker Tracking, which zooms in to focus on the speaking participant. This board-room like audio and video transforms small meeting rooms into a center for collaboration. We’re also pleased that it was recently certified for Zoom Rooms and Microsoft Teams. The device also works with Skype for Business, Google Meet, Cisco WebEx and Amazon Chime, and virtually any cloud-based video collaboration service.


"Poly combines legendary audio expertise with powerful video and conferencing capabilities to help our users overcome the distractions, complexity, and distance, making communication in and out of the workplace challenging."

M7: What traits make Poly a global leader in communications and a leading choice for every kind of workspace?
AB:
Our in-depth expertise, tireless innovation, and emphasis on partnership make Poly a global leader in communications and a leading choice for every kind of workspace.

Poly combines legendary audio expertise with powerful video and conferencing capabilities to help our users overcome the distractions, complexity, and distance, making communication in and out of the workplace challenging. When the world was on a race to space in the ’60s, NASA approached us—Plantronics back then—with a seemingly impossible task: create a headset that would equip astronauts to communicate with Mission Control from the earth to the moon, and back again.

Fifty years later, we share the same mission today: to create powerful connections that unify people the world over. We’re designing technology for the different ways people work – open offices, remote locations, mobile-first workers. We are the largest provider of headsets, video and audio-conferencing devices that you use to communicate and collaborate for your work, whatever that may be. And we continue to innovate with products like Poly Studio X that change how people collaborate.
Through partnerships with industry leaders like Microsoft, Amazon, Google, and Zoom, Poly takes an open-architecture approach that allows users to seamlessly connect across all the best technologies. Whenever and wherever people connect with these services, we will be there to provide the best-in-class audio, video and voice technology to make the experience that much better.

M7: What’s your superpower or spirit animal?
AB: 
My superpower is the ability to read amazingly quickly, thanks to the experimental elementary school I attended. I don’t know how anyone gets through their workload without it, honestly. My spirit animal? I told my husband the other day that I think it is Tom Petty. I’m a huge fan. If you have a problem, there is a Tom Petty song that can solve it, or at least make it more fun.

ABOUT POLY

Plantronics, Inc. (“Poly” – formerly Plantronics and Polycom) (NYSE: PLT) is a global communications company that powers meaningful human connection and collaboration. Poly combines legendary audio expertise and powerful video and conferencing capabilities to overcome the distractions, complexity, and distance that make communication in and out of the workplace challenging. Poly believes in solutions that make life easier when they work together and with our partner’s services. Our headsets, software, desk phones, audio and video conferencing, analytics and services are used worldwide and are a leading choice for every kind of workspace.

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AION Labs Welcomes Amiti as Strategic Partner to Accelerate Israel's Position as a Leading Hub for Transformative AI-Powered Drug Discovery Innovation

PR Newswire | January 09, 2024

AION Labs, the first-of-its-kind venture studio spearheading the adoption of AI technologies and computational science to solve therapeutic challenges, announced today a new strategic partnership with Amiti Ventures, one of the leading early-stage venture capital firms in Israel. The partnership further strengthens the alliance of global leaders in pharma, biotech, and technology investment, expanding its offering as a venture studio and partner for new startups. "With a proven track record of identifying the best teams for the mission and investing early in the most innovative deep tech startups that shape the future, Amiti Ventures will bring important complementary capabilities and expert investor knowledge to the AION Labs partnership," said Mati Gill, CEO of AION Labs. "We thank Amiti for its vote of confidence in our model of innovation for groundbreaking AI and computational biotech ventures. We further appreciate Amiti's recognition that Israel's ecosystem is poised to lead the world in bringing AI and biotech together to solve our biggest drug discovery challenges." By joining forces with Amiti, AION Labs is enhancing its expertise and capabilities in the deep tech and computational technology domains, areas that are critical to the success of biotech innovation. Amiti's extensive experience and track record in these fields will bring invaluable investor knowledge and insights to AION Labs, enabling it to more effectively develop and support early-stage startups focused on AI and computational biology. Amiti's first investment in the venture studio will entail investment in DenovAI Biotech's Seed round of funding. Launched in 2022, DenovAI is developing an AI-powered biophysics solution for de novo antibody and protein design. AION Labs builds and invests in early-stage startup teams focused on AI and computational biology in drug discovery and development, offering them top-notch resources and mentorship while working closely with them to develop new technologies that meet the most significant challenges in the pharmaceutical industry. The partnership with Amiti Ventures will help AION Labs to advance healthcare towards patient-centric precision medicine and create a significant contribution to the health and well-being of humankind by helping to bring new treatments to market faster and more efficiently. "We believe that AION Labs is uniquely positioned to identify the biggest challenges to accelerate drug discovery and development and then evaluate the best computational bio approaches and entrepreneurs," said Ben Rabinowitz, Founder and Managing Partner of Amiti Ventures. "AION Labs' venture studio model bridges the gap between outstanding academic research, huge leaps forward in generative AI, and the biggest challenges and opportunities in the development of new medicines, and we look forward to working closely with our new partners to make this a reality. "We also have been amazed by the can-do spirit of the AION Labs team," added Rabinowitz. "It is that readiness to create, pull themselves up by the bootstraps and forge ahead with amazing innovation that makes AION and Israel's entire startup ecosystem so special." About AION Labs AION Labs is a first-of-its-kind alliance of Astrazeneca, Merck, Pfizer, Teva, the Israel Biotech Fund, Amiti Ventures, and Amazon Web Services (AWS), powered by BioMed X with the support of the Israeli Government via the Israel Innovation Authority, that have come together with one clear mission: to create and adopt groundbreaking new AI technologies that will transform the process of drug discovery and development in order to contribute to the health and well-being of all people world-wide. AION Labs is a unique venture hub where brilliant innovators and scientist-founders convene from around the world to solve the biggest R&D challenges guided by years of accumulated know-how, data and experience in pharma. The lab leverages its partners' wealth of knowledge and a new multidisciplinary mindset with the ingenuity, agility and innovative power of Israel's startup ecosystem, to develop strong companies with clear long-term strategies, that will pave the way to the future of healthcare. AION Labs cultivates innovation from within; its unique venture creation process bridges the gap between outstanding academic research in the field of AI and the biggest R&D needs in the discovery and development of new medicines for the benefit of patients.

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PHARMA TECH

Medison Pharma Announces Agreement with Regeneron Pharmaceuticals to Commercialize Libtayo (cemiplimab) in Multiple Countries

PR Newswire | January 08, 2024

Medison Pharma ("Medison"), a global pharma company focused on providing access to highly innovative therapies to patients in international markets, announced today their exclusive multi-national agreement with Regeneron Ireland DAC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a leading biotechnology company that invents, develops and commercializes life-transforming medicines for people with serious diseases, to commercialize Libtayo (cemiplimab), a fully human monoclonal antibody targeting the immune checkpoint receptor PD-1 on T cells, in select European markets and additional markets around the world. Libtayo was invented in laboratories at Regeneron, which acquired exclusive worldwide development, commercialization, and manufacturing rights to the medicine from Sanofi in July 2022. Medison and Regeneron will work together with all stakeholders and regulatory authorities to facilitate a seamless transition of commercialization activities to Medison during the first half of 2024. Libtayo, which was invented using Regeneron's proprietary VelocImmune® technology, is currently approved by regulatory authorities in more than two dozen countries, including by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). In select markets, it is approved as monotherapy treatment for certain patients with advanced basal cell carcinoma (BCC), as monotherapy treatment for certain patients with advanced cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (CSCC), as both monotherapy or in combination with chemotherapy for certain patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and/or as monotherapy treatment for certain patients with recurrent or metastatic cervical cancer. Libtayo is a leading and first-in-class PD-1 inhibitor approved for the treatment of two non-melanoma skin cancers and is considered standard of care in these indications. "Our multi-regional commercial platform is a great fit for Regeneron's go-to-market plan and another great opportunity for Medison to facilitate access to highly innovative therapies for people suffering from rare and severe diseases," said Meir Jakobsohn, Founder and Executive Chairman of Medison. "Regeneron's selection of Medison is yet another testimony of the unique value that our multi-regional solution can generate for innovative biotech companies wishing to focus on selected markets." "We are proud to partner with Regeneron," said Gil Gurfinkel, CEO of Medison. "Our one-of-a-kind centralized, unified commercial platform, with single alliance management across multiple markets and regions, is of great value to more and more leading biotech companies. Our platform enables biotech companies to transform numerous complex and fragmented markets and regions into a unified territory." About Libtayo Libtayo is a fully human monoclonal antibody targeting the immune checkpoint receptor PD-1 on T cells and was invented using Regeneron's proprietary VelocImmune technology. By binding to PD-1, Libtayo has been shown to block cancer cells from using the PD-1 pathway to suppress T-cell activation. In the U.S. and other countries Libtayo is indicated in certain patients with advanced BCC, advanced CSCC and advanced NSCLC, as well as in advanced cervical cancer in the European Union, Canada and Brazil. As of July 1, 2022, Libtayo is developed and marketed globally by Regeneron. Outside of the U.S., the generic name for Libtayo is cemiplimab. The extensive clinical program for Libtayo is focused on difficult-to-treat cancers. Libtayo is currently being investigated in trials as a monotherapy, as well as in combination with either conventional or novel therapeutic approaches for other solid tumors and blood cancers. These potential uses are investigational, and their safety and efficacy have not been evaluated by any regulatory authority. About Medison Pharma Medison is a global pharma company focused on providing access to highly innovative therapies to patients in international markets. Medison is the first to create an international commercialization platform for highly innovative therapies, helping to save and improve lives by making the best available novel treatments accessible to patients in international markets. Medison has a track record of multi-territorial partnerships with leading pharmaceutical and biotech companies seeking to expand their global reach.

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