Sue Thexton of Brightcove

 Sue Thexton of Brightcove

Senior Vice President of sales for EMEA

Brightcove, a leading global provider of cloud content services.

The most surprising thing to happen to me, was becoming pregnant months into my new job as Vice  President for Macromedia Europe, the multimedia internet software company. When the American boss came over I said: “I have something to tell you.” He was relieved because he thought I was going to leave.

Sue Thexton has had many interesting experiences: some might call it luck, but she recognizes that to grab the opportunity is one of the most important principles in business.

the media woman

new Vice President at Brightcove

The Alpha male
Although I was the most senior in the European division, I had a boss, who, had ranted, shouted and sworn at me in front of the whole office, suggesting I had no idea what I was doing. He was an alpha male, who believed this was how leadership should be interpreted. He had just flown in, tired, irritable, was taking it out on me. I suggested where his job might go, then stepped back for a period of reflection. When he rang to apologize , as he inevitably did, I told him I wanted some time to go away, analyze the business in Europe and my role within it, then come back with a proposal.

This incident was life changing in more ways than one. I was concerned that if he  continued to treat me like that at the headquarters in the States when I did my presentation, I might end up in tears, so I needed to find the strength to face him.

On a colleague’s recommendation, I spent a half day with an NLP Practitioner, doing the circle of excellence gather all your strengths, resources to energize and empower.
That gave me a respect for the power of NLP. When I met him again in America for the presentation I was prepared and confident. From that time on, our relationship never looked back.
I describe this incident on my time-line, represented as a graph, the line travels up, plunges deeply down, but, when it comes back up, it goes way beyond the previous peak.

I did not plan to be in the world of technology. When I was given my honorary Doctorate at Middlesex University, I used my address to tell young graduates not to worry if they don’t know what they want to do. It’s is more important to be open to opportunity, grab the moment when it comes.

I wanted to be a graphic designer. Originally I trained at the London College of Printing, then worked for Letraset. There I discovered that I was good at sales. Identifying people’s problems and solving them with the right products. I became an evangelist for Letraset and later they set up a software division. When Adobe illustrator came along, I recognized it not as a rival but as complimentary to what I was doing.

My role model when I was younger,  was my mum. She’s strong minded, not academically prejudiced. She engendered a sense of you can do anything. She instilled that value in me. Feisty, degree educated, but never had a full time job. She believed in family first, but was thrilled by the success of myself and my sister.


Sherry Flanders-Page, is another.  Former Senior Vice President for Adobe.
Listening. She really listens, and is willing to confront problems. I acknowledge the usefulness of really listening. Listening and apologizing, not emotionally defensive, sorry but we’ll do it. Always acknowledge. It is very hard to continue to yell at someone who is apologizing to you .
My greatest challenge was the dot-com meltdown when the entire IT industry bottomed. My business went from $120million to $65million in one year. If you can manage this level of adversity you become stronger, and you learn so much. You also learn who your friends are, growing it (the business) back to beyond $120m was my greatest achievement

Technology is still very male dominated. I find it incredibly frustrating I can tell minutes into a meeting if it’s a male culture. It’s what I call the alpha male style of leadership. Tough and loud, not always as productive as it might be. The technology world is predominantly a male culture. People think that the female culture, soft skills, are fluffy, indecisive, not knowing where you’re going. But being respectful of other people is important. I can be tough, making people redundant, and we can all be in tears. But it’s not personal, it’s business. People respect that and we can still be friends. A bad message can still be communicated, clearly and respectfully. Don’t cover over the emotion.

Leadership is not about being tough, it’s about communication and respect. In the technology world, it is just incredible the small number of women represented, so few women at board level in major organizations, because men appoint men who are like them. It’s frustrating, you need the right person for the job.

So the male alpha view is potentially missing out on the best qualities.
Another quality which I admire in both women and men, is admitting to not knowing and asking questions. It makes people more equal, shows up vulnerability, not weakness; I’m human too
Look to the receptionist. She (usually) is the first contact people have with a company. The receptionist should be intelligent, well- informed and communicate well, which includes listening.
I believe that in a company, everyone should answer the phone for a day.

Significant men in my life, first my husband.

He’s enabled me to do my job. He’s an emotionally strong male, not an alpha male, self
assured, self confident, never worries, totally cool. If I have a bad day at work he’s there for me, my
David Puttnam
Chair of the board of trustees of Futurelab, * of which I am also a trustee.
David shows determination, gentleness, caring. He’s thoughtful, not loud, I’ve never heard him raise his voice, certainly not one of the alpha males. He has an extraordinary capacity for work, both in the Lords, education, film and TV, but not for personal gain or aggrandisement, but to make a difference. And he does.

Brightcove, a leading global provider of cloud content services, announced that Sue Thexton has joined the company as senior vice president of sales for EMEA.

Thexton also established Adobe’s Northern Europe presence in 1989 and has worked as a media and technology consultant for clients including Skillset, Red Bee Media and the BBC. She has held several non-executive positions, including being a member of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts
(BAFTA) Council, a Trustee of Futurelab and a visiting professor at Middlesex
 University in London.

©2014 Christina.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s