Executive Interview with Joe Thomas
MWJ talks with President of M/A-COM Technology Solutions about the company's history and future.
Joseph Thomas has been serving in his most recent role as the President of M/A-COM Technology Solutions since September of 2007 when Cobham PLC acquired M/A-COM’s commercial business from Tyco Electronics*. He leads an organization that designs, manufactures and markets a broad range of radio frequency (RF) technology solutions within communications, sensing and defense applications.
Mr. Thomas joined M/A COM in 1975. He was a Design Engineer and Product Marketing Manager for five years before moving into various senior management positions within the company. He has led growth teams addressing multiple markets ranging from consumer entertainment to strategic defense applications.
Mr. Thomas’ product experience includes everything from RF interconnects, semiconductors and components, to subsystems and system-level solutions. Prior to joining M/A-COM, Mr. Thomas was an Engineering Manager with Micro Dynamics in Woburn, Massachusetts, U.S. Mr. Thomas holds a Bachelors Degree in Electrical Engineering received in 1973 from the University of Massachusetts, Massachusetts, U.S.
MWJ - M/A-COM Technology Solutions was formed in September 2008 when Cobham plc completed the acquisition of M/A-COM’s Aerospace & Defense and Commercial businesses from Tyco Electronics. What was the motivation of incorporating this new business?
JT - When the acquisition was made, Cobham made it clear that it planned to divest the Commercial business because its focus was on core aerospace and defense markets. Cobham has a strategic objective to develop and maintain top three market positions. The commercial business did not fully meet Cobham’s acquisition criteria, but that does not mean that it’s not a great business.
MWJ - In your new position as President of M/A-COM Technology Solutions, what kind of new challenges have you and the company been facing?
JT- M/A-COM Technology Solutions, or M/A-COM Tech, has two challenges of note. The first is somewhat unique; that is, the business is being divested. With that, there’s a certain degree of uncertainty about who will be the acquiring company. It doesn’t affect people on a day-to-day basis, but it is there in the back of your mind. We need to stay very close to our customers and suppliers and be sensitive to their concerns and those of our employees. We aim to make the transition to new ownership as seamless as possible to our customers, with no changes to product lines or employees.
JT- The second challenge is one we share with the rest of the world—the global economic slowdown and the impact it is likely to have on most companies. Every challenge gives you an opportunity to re-assess what is core to your long-term success and adjust accordingly. We live in a world where the demand for information exchange on the move continues to grow, so we remain focused on our core strategies as we know that the current market headwinds will some day pass.
MWJ - M/A-COM Technology Solutions has been through a lot of ownership changes over the past few years. What’s it like to be a company in transition?
JT- M/A-COM Tech has had multiple owners during the past 10 years. Some of these ownership changes have made it necessary to change our strategic direction. In some cases the change has been good. For example, our current owner, Cobham, has recognized the need for continued investment in our business. Their belief in us as a strong, independent stand-alone entity has enabled M/A-COM Technology Solutions to remain a strong, competitive force in the RF and microwave industry. I am hopeful that, once we complete the divestiture process, our business will experience some period of stability.
MWJ - How has this affected turnover/productivity?
JT - For most areas, ownership changes really haven’t hurt productivity. Employees remain proud of what we do and want to prove their ability to excel as a team.
MWJ - What do you think has sustained the company through these changing times?
JT- M/A-COM Tech has always been a company that thrives on innovation. Innovation is a quality that people bring to any endeavor that you can’t program into machines. For nearly sixty years the M/A-COM name has been synonymous with innovation and quality, which brings with it a sense of responsibility and pride for each generation of employees. Our people are passionate about developing high performance solutions that can make a real impact in the world.
MWJ -What is your vision for M/A-COM Technology Solutions in the years to come?
JT- RF will remain our foundation technology, but we will continue to evolve to meet the growing appetite for wireless solutions in personal, business and industrial applications worldwide. Applications that will benefit from the unique characteristics of RF, combined with new and exciting technologies.
In the years to come, we will be firmly at the heart of the digital revolution with our RF technology. You may not realize the part we play, but just like your heart, you would be in trouble without us.