A Tektronix Gain


Back to the Present

Enough reminiscing! Tek itself possesses a venerable cachet, but a Tek owned and run by Danaher may be even more attractive to someone like Jim McGillivary. First of all, we know that Tek has operated and grown since inception a strong Test & Measurement business, long an interest and a passion of Jim’s from his days at HP and Agilent.

But Danaher Tek” offered even more: A president already well known to Jim, and a proven system for achieving performance -- the Danaher Business System (DBS). It drives every aspect of the Danaher culture and performance. DBS is a real, practical system of continuous improvement and is used to guide and measure everyday activities in every Danaher entity. [5]

The Danaher Tek president today is one Amir Aghdaei, formerly of Agilent Technologies and well known to Jim McGillivary.


Mr. Amir Aghdaei


Mr. Aghdaei became president of Tektronix in May 2009, following stints as VP of Fluke Precision Measurement and as senior VP of field operations with Credence Systems. He also spent seven years as GM of Agilent Technologies' measurement systems business in Singapore. Aghdaei began his career at IBM and later held executive-level positions with Hewlett Packard. He has an MBA from the University of Delaware, an MS in Applied Mathematics and Computer Science from Georgia State University, and a BS in Industrial Engineering from the Science and Technology University of Iran.

As president of Danaher Tektronix, Aghdaei practices the tenets of the DBS, which was derived originally from the Toyota Production System and Lean concepts, then improved upon by Danaher. Jim McGillivary liked and admired Aghdaei and Jim soon came to admire and respect the DBS.

When an attractive opening appeared in the critically-important Tektronix RF/Microwave Division, with a chance to work with talented people like Lynne Camp and Amir Aghdaei, Jim sat up and took notice. The RF/Microwave area is one of five applications on which Tek is focused:



RF Test Applications arise in
Cellular Communications, EMI Test, Jitter Measurement, Radar Test, Radio Test and Satellite Test Equipment, Signal Integrity and Spectrum Management.


Tektronix Real-time Spectrum Analyzers


Jim was excited by this opportunity and was persuaded to turn his day-to-day activities since May 1, 2010 over to others, and join Tektronix on February 1, 2011:



At our April 2011 meeting in Santa Rosa, it was during his animated description of the opportunities and challenges involved in modern microwave and RF technologies that Jim’s engaging personality began exhibiting itself to the writer.

Here was not a career executive focused on ensuring that his next title and responsibility be “bigger” and “more corporate” than his last. Rather, here was a talented engineer/businessman genuinely interested at 50 years of age in an area where he could leverage his technical skills and interests with his accumulated experience in the digital and analog world, to provide solutions to a critically-important area of highly complex microwave and RF test equipment, to actually help deliver the signal generation and analysis capabilities required to overcome the most difficult challenges.

This flash of insight on the part of the writer opened up a brand new way to interpret Jim’s early life and career path to the present.

Arguably every turning point in Jim’s life up to now can be viewed from this more enlightened perspective, starting from Jim’s origins in Detroit.

Midwest Origins

Jim was born to parents who held important professional positions in Detroit Edison and Chrysler in the days when Detroit was the capital of America’s industrial might. Jim thrived growing up among two sisters and a brother, each of whom are themselves professionals (nursing, contract negotiator, and aerospace engineer).

Jim thrived both academically and athletically during his school years, especially at Athens High in Troy MI, yet he held several simultaneous part time jobs throughout high school. Each of these activities defines the man we see today. For example, tall and still trim, Jim’s prowess as a track star in high school is highly credible. He is also very unassuming but smart (he was in the upper 10% of his Athens class), yet interested in many things other than just grades (his part time jobs as a teenager were highly technical (bicycle mechanic and repair ace for hi fi electronics) and financially rewarding, the first attribute at least presaging his choice of electronics engineering for college).


College and beyond

With virtually any college campus at his fingertips, Jim chose the straightforward opportunity to study engineering at the nearby University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.



Jim passed up scholarships and throughout his college years continued his avocation of mechanic and hi fi amplifier repair specialist.


High-end Nakamichi Tape Deck


As Jim puts it, “It took me many years as a graduate engineer to reach the same pay level as my days as a repair tech.” Throughout college, Jim did well academically, loving the classes on electronics and audio equipment, and merely tolerating the other more theoretical courses. He budgeted his academic life in such a way that permitted time for other more enjoyable pursuits, such as a robust social life, joining a fraternity as a sophomore, and continuing his avocation as the local “complex electronics repair phenom” previously discussed.


Just after Graduation

At this point in our Santa Rosa meeting, the writer asked about Jim’s first full-time job after his 1983 BSEE college degree. What city? When the job started and ended, and why the job was chosen? Again Jim’s practical bent shone through. He chose the Harris Government Systems Group in Melbourne Florida.



Why? He liked the research part of the offer, and ever practical, he said Florida was attractive to someone growing up in Detroit. Moreover, by 1983, Detroit was enmeshed in a major recession.

But Jim ultimately worked at Harris for only nine months ! Aha! Here is where we first hear about Jim’s fiancé!

As the story emerged, it turns out that Jim had met his EE classmate and future fiancé at Michigan. After her
BSEE graduation, Jim’s fiancé had also tried to find a job in Melbourne or environs, but without success. However, she did secure a great offer from Hewlett Packard in San Jose CA, and took it.



Whereupon Jim did the fiancé following ; he quit Harris and found a job at Lockheed Missiles and Space in nearby Sunnyvale CA!

Enough with the following! The couple soon married in 1984, and now Jim and his spouse have three children:

Son #1 – 21, currently in 3 rd year at a Pac 10 university, in Electrical Engineering

Daughter – 18, High School Senior; soon off to the Pac 10 for Molecular Biology.

Son #2 – 15, Freshman in High School.

Jim’s Career Path after Lockheed

In 1986, Jim left Lockheed and embarked on a career that consumed the next 24 years at what are now two separate companies.  As we will see, an outside observer at this juncture with no knowledge of Jim’s personality would be unable to single Jim out from any other talented but typical careerist.

Jim joined the Integrated Systems Division (ISD) of Hewlett Packard in 1986, toiling for three years in Sunnyvale CA as a hardware & software development engineer. He then advanced to an R&D project manager at HP ISD Sunnyvale for another three years, followed by two additional years as R&D Section Manager at HP ISD till 1994.

With this track record of success as a manager, Jim was asked to go to HP’s Power Product Division (PPD) in 1994 in Rockaway New Jersey to run that Division’s R&D group. The HP PPD made precision industrial power supplies for electronic manufacturing testing, for such HP customers as Motorola, Nokia, Sony, Samsung and Lockheed. (Rockaway is just 34 miles NW of New York City). Then after a short stint as PPD Marketing Manager in 1998, HP asked Jim to take over the entire Power Products Division as Vice President & General Manager!



Typical PPD Power Supply


Finally in a position to effect real change, General Manager McGillivary calmly but deliberately drove the focus of the organization from “product” centric to “customer application” centric, achieving a growth rate of 70% over the next two years, while simultaneously lowering the cost structure as development and marketing efforts became much more focused on target customers. Indeed, his Rockaway manufacturing group became the most efficient in the entire HP Test & Measurement sector, including manufacturing locations in Asia.

That success earned Jim the additional assignment of turning around the  Santa Clara Division of HP (SCD) back in Sunnyvale. He soon determined that SCD was in desperate need of a major transformation, as SCD was losing money by trying unsuccessfully to serve three different customer types: (1) automotive service bay testing, (2) cell tower communication time synchronization, and (3) positioning subsystems for semiconductor lithography equipment. The typical customer list was equally disparate: Ford Motor, Fiat, Rover, Samsung, NTT, ASML, Nikon and Cannon. Jim calmly got the division to focus on one business (nano positioning), returned the SCD to profitability in six months, ran it that way for another 18 months, and oh yeah...he still was in charge of the Rockaway NY Power Products Group some 2900 miles away.

Quite a general management success story for a young electronics engineer with few pretentions of being Peter Drucker!  What could be next for this young manager Jim McGillivary in the millennium year of 2000?

Well, as EDA WEEKLY readers learned last year that, while Jim and his fiancé were graduating with their 1983 BSEE Degrees in Ann Arbor, a small independent EDA enterprise called EEsof had been quietly building a fledgling company in California, destined someday to  provide its customers a broad spectrum of EDA software, including applications for microwave (MW), Radio Frequency (RF), high-frequency, high-speed, RF system, electronic system level (ESL), circuit, 3-D electromagnetic, physical design and device-modeling. Jim and EEsof were of course unaware of each other at this point in time.

In 1993 EEsof became a division of HP, and EEsof later stayed with Agilent Technologies when Agilent spun off from HP and executed an IPO in 1999.

(Reminder: see page 1 of this edition for the URL to access the two EDA WEEKLY articles about Agilent EEsof that appeared on February 01, 2010 and MARCH 29, 2010).

And whom in 2000 should Agilent tap for its new EEsof VP & General Manager but our young and rising star Jim McGillivary.

Here’s how that happened. When Agilent Technologies separated from HP in 1999, the Rockaway PPD and its GM Jim McGilivary went with Agilent. After another year of commuting between New Jersey and California (remember Jim was also managing SCD Sunnyvale at the time, which had also become part of Agilent), Jim was anxious to settle down on the west coast for awhile. His Agilent manager (Pat Byrne) suggested the Agilent EEsof assignment, something very different and challenging. Jim was excited about the opportunity and decided to take the offer, along with continuing to run the SCD Division in Sunnyvale. Eighteen months later, Jim began pouring all his energies solely into the Agilent EEsof Division in what became a ten year success story.

Stated in the format of a resume entry, Jim’s decade at Agilent EEsof EDA can be paraphrased as follows:

Jim McGillivary:

Agilent Technologies Vice President & General Manager -- EEsof EDA Division – Santa Rosa, California (2000 – 2010)


This division offers electronic design automation (EDA) software for engineers designing high speed communication systems, boards and IC’s. The position is one representing a virtual CEO in Agilent, as it uniquely includes the management of all business functions: R&D, Marketing, Support, Consulting, and the Field Sales Channel.


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