Shure CEO Christine Schyvinck on the Next Generation of Female Leaders in Audio Technology: Billboard Japan Women in Music

President and CEO of Shure, Christine Schyvinck spoke with Billboard Japan for its Women in Music interview series featuring female players in the entertainment industry. The WIM initiative in Japan began in 2022 in the same spirit as Billboard’s Women in Music that launched in 2007, honoring artists, producers and executives who have made significant contributions to the music industry and empowered women through their work.

Beginning her career as a quality control engineer in 1989 at Shure, a leading global audio technology company with nearly 100 years of history, Schyvinck gained diverse experience and insight within the company which helps her move the organization forward to this day. In an email interview with Billboard Japan, Schyvinck shared her mission of getting more women involved in STEM to help them become the next generation of leaders and the importance of having a shared mindset within the industry when tackling gender inequality.

Growing up, were there any women you looked up to? How have those ideals changed over the course of your career and life?

In my much younger years, I paid attention to women in leadership roles and was quite curious about them. Female athletes, astronauts, and political leaders proved to me that women can go places and they inspired me. It was fortunate that I started my career at Shure, which had a supportive system and did not discriminate between men and women. This is a company that was led by Mrs. Shure herself from 1995 to 2016 – I got to work along-side her and understand her values and beliefs. That experience shaped how I work today, and now it’s my job to make sure women can find paths to success.

We can’t leave everything to luck – help is needed along the way. Women play an important role in the future of technology and one of my missions is working with organizations to try to get more women involved in STEM so they can understand that this is a viable career path for them that could result in the next generation of leaders.

You joined SHURE as an engineer and have had a successful tenure at the company for over 30 years. How has your experience in different departments and business units affected your career and life?

This is now my 34th year with Shure. You will not find many global CEOs who have been with their companies that long. I firmly believe it is important to experience new things in an organization. I started at Shure as a quality control engineer and was quickly exposed to learning about the types of issues sound professionals encounter daily. My job was to help ensure that our equipment was reliable and always ready for the show. Shure’s brand reputation was built on quality products and this company remains committed to delivering the best performing products.

I eventually moved from Vice President of Quality to Vice President of Operations, where I managed procurement, supply chain, and manufacturing, as well as quality. This was another essential experience because I was able to work with passionate people all around the world, dedicated to making great products that solved problems for our customers. In 2006, I moved into a role leading global marketing and sales, where I managed three business units in the Americas, Europe/Middle East/Africa, and the Asia/Pacific regions. All this experience has helped me learn more about overall company operations, the global business structure, and what we need to do to meet the evolving needs of customers.

Having diverse experience within different parts of our company has given me an appreciation that not all CEOs are fortunate enough to have: I thoroughly understand the type of work that happens at various levels of the organization, and I know what our customers expect from us.

You earned a master’s degree in management engineering while balancing work with your career. Are there things you are working on or mindful of in order to achieve your current goals?

For me, being a strong business leader means listening. I work with so many talented people that help keep me informed of current business conditions and upcoming trends. I’ve found that having trust in your leadership and listening to customers is the best way forward. We are a customer-focused company and we’re not afraid to work shoulder to shoulder with people as they are working through problems. We like being out in the field and solving issues with certain venues or with certain performances. We’re problem-solvers and we share the end goal of having people in an audience be wowed during a performance. The only way this happens is attention to detail, attention to quality products, and attention in listening to what our customers need.
It’s also been helpful for me to have been where many of our Associates have been as I’ve worked my way through this organization. There’s no one blueprint for success, but for me, the combination of listening and hands-on experience has really helped me move the organization forward.

On the other hand, when faced with difficulties at work, how have you resolved them?

The key to overcoming difficulties in business is to surround yourself with smart, capable people who can collaborate to find the right solutions. Many minds can come at a problem from different angles and help find solutions that perhaps weren’t obvious in the way you were thinking.

Christine, you have been the CEO of SHURE since 2016, which is a rare feat in the audio and technology industry. Why do you think there are so few women executives in these fields?

Shure has been very involved with our trade group AVIXA and others in promoting women in the industry, but there is more work to do too. Women play an important role in the future of technology and it’s really never too early to start thinking about that career path. In fact, I think you have to reach girls when they are in junior high or middle school. They need to start thinking about classes in high school and organizations to join.
There are now so many schools and community organizations providing opportunities for all young kids to get involved with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math), but if that awareness doesn’t hit them early, they won’t sign up or they might be intimidated. As an industry, we should always be looking at ways we can be more involved in getting kids interested in our fields. Then, once they are in the industry, they need to have equal opportunities to progress in their careers and elevate into leadership roles.

In terms of gender equality, what is Shure’s current stance, as well as the approaches it has taken in order to achieve it?

When Mr. Shure founded the company in 1925, even in those different times, he was very attuned to diversity, equity and inclusion. This has been part of Shure’s DNA from the beginning. McKinsey did a study a few years back called “Diversity Matters.” The facts are there – companies that have more diversity on their teams perform better financially.

We have been more aggressive with our Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Access (IDEA) efforts recently, involving our Associates in helping shape our communications efforts as we recruit, retain and celebrate a diverse workforce. Gender balance is a big part of that. Mrs. Shure led by example.

Diversity in backgrounds, whether it is from the tech sector, musicians, audio engineers, etc., is also important. We embrace this diversity because it helps us better understand our diverse set of customers, which range from major television networks and movie studios, to educational institutions, to musicians and concert venues, to global businesses to individuals who use headphones and earphones. We now have Associates working in more than 30 countries around the world. This gives us a much better handle on local market needs and how to grow in those regions.

In Europe and the U.S., women have more access to career development support through various programs and mentorships. Can you tell us about Shure’s women-focused initiative “WE VIBE”?

At Shure, we have been making a commitment to our own internal actions around IDEA efforts. Over the past two years, we have held Inclusion Panels, which are panels with our own employees, discussing their backgrounds, their challenges, and how we can all create a better workplace. These are streamed live and via recording for our Associates to watch and ask questions.

Our Associate-led resource groups or “VIBES” are each focused on Women, LGBTQIA+ and Culture/Racial Equity – and they have helped guide us in thinking about policies, activities and other support functions they would like to see from Shure. The WE VIBE provides additional resources and support for everyone within the organization who wants to contribute to a more diverse workplace and community. Within the industry, we are holding Women in Technology panels with pros from all over the world in the areas of theater, film and more.

Shure is also supporting a number of organizations focusing on increased inclusion and support that reach younger students to help them encourage careers in the audio industry – specifically in areas of STEM.

What do you hope to accomplish through this initiative?

We have many goals with those initiatives, but our two main goals are:  adding more women and diversity to this industry and celebrating and championing those who are already here.

Billboard US, launched Women In Music in 2007, an annual event to honor women artists and executives who actively made a difference that year. What are some key factors when raising awareness about gender inequality issues across the industry, including Shure’s initiatives?

This past year has been an empowering year for women in music. The top highest grossing concert tours in the U.S. were from Taylor Swift and Beyonce. There are so many up-and-coming female artists as well – not just in the U.S., but all over the world. We have been supporting programs globally that help women who are just getting started in music to teach them and provide them with opportunities to be successful.

It is also important to note the increasing growth in the women behind the scenes in music. And we are doing what we can with our efforts to help close those gender gaps.

Finally, what advice would you give yourself during the first year of your career? I think many young women who are looking to enter the music industry will be encouraged by your words.

Find who your friends are and don’t be afraid to ask them for help. Oftentimes, women think they have to figure it out on their own, lest they be thought of as “weaker” or “incapable.” Asking questions and finding a network of people who can help you actually builds strength and teaches you how to become a good mentor someday. Simply put, don’t try to do it all yourself.

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