2011 Distinguished Alumni

Zeynep "Zee" Hakimoglu

B.S. Physics, 1975
School of Science and Technology

It is the hope of professors and higher education institutions alike, that a student is instilled with a strong core of knowledge and the tools necessary to excel in the post-college world. To this degree, Zeynep “Zee” Hakimoglu (’75, B.S. Physics) is a shining example.

“The most contributing factor to my success is my background in physics,” says Hakimoglu, who is currently President and CEO of ClearOne Communications, the leading global provider of audio conferencing solutions.

“A physics degree was the best training I could get,” she says. “You learn that no problems are easy, that they all have deep roots. You learn that you know very little, and it keeps you from arrogance, keeps you humble.”

And humble she certainly is. The company she leads boasts a client list of numerous Fortune 500 companies, and in 2007 she was named North American Audio Conferencing CEO of the Year by Frost & Sullivan.

Yet, when asked how her path led to executive management positions, her reply was undeniably humble. “A little luck, and a little luck,” she says, before hesitating and then adding, “Oh, and I think a little bit of luck. Throw in a little humor and honesty, and there you go.”

Since 1982, Hakimoglu has held multiple positions in the telecommunications industry, including several stints in executive management prior to joining ClearOne. The oldest of four sisters, Hakimoglu considers herself fortunate to have, “never had any brothers, so I didn’t see the role of management as male or female.”

“One thing about Sonoma State, is that it was one of the early institutions which emphasized independent student responsibility,” says Hakimoglu. “There was a big emphasis on your own projects, on self-learning. That really worked in my favor.”

Dr. Joe Tenn, professor emeritus of physics, was Hakimoglu’s advisor while she attended Sonoma State University. He remembers her well and has followed her many successes over the years.

“She worked her way up, by herself, through a number of companies in the hi-tech field,” recalls Tenn. “She took over ClearOne in 2003 when it was about to go under. She brought it back, and she’s done quite well.”

“I think back to my days as a physics student,” she says. “I wasn’t the best, I wasn’t the worst, but I certainly tried hard. The Physics Department, they’re kind of my bones.”