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Bose CEO Lila Snyder on the Business of Sound and Silence

Lila Synder is CEO of Bose Corporation, the consumer audio company which is soon to mark its 60th anniversary. Founded by Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Amar Bose, its home has always been within close proximity to Boston and its abundance of student talent. Snyder was one of those grads, earning a master’s degree and Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from MIT, following her bachelor’s in mechanical engineering from the University of Miami.

She arrived at Bose at the top of 2020, just as the Covid-19 pandemic threw the world — and supply chains — into a tailspin. But Snyder is an expert problem solver, and like any engineering challenge, she approached her new job — overseeing all aspects of the company’s consumer electronics, automotive, and related businesses — methodically. She leads a global staff of 6,000 with a guiding principle: that “sound is not an accessory. It is everything we do; It is the most important thing and it’s in the center.”

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The rise of Bose to become a top name in sound, particularly when it comes to the car, saw an inflection point in the 1980s when the company teamed with Cadillac to offer a premium car audio system. Snyder’s own origin story also has an ’80s connection – it was then that she first discovered a love of music, which she’s carried through to her chief executive position.

Like in other tech industries where female engineers are far outnumbered by their male counterparts, Snyder is hoping to better the statistic when it comes to music makers through an initiative called “Turn the Dial,” which aims to address why fewer than 3% of hit song producers are female or nonbinary. They’ve partnered with the nonprofit She Is the Music and are working with such artists as H.E.R. and Pink Pantheress, and behind-the-scenes stars like Wondagirl and Blondish to tell their stories.

And then there’s the part of the business that has to do with silence – or noise cancelation. Bose has been hard at work coming up with the perfect software algorithm to evaluate the sounds around you and cancel out what you don’t want to hear. As Snyder describes it: “It’s almost tuning the dial on the volume of your life — which things you wanna turn up, which things you wanna turn down.” This “constant push of new innovation” has become Bose’s calling card, and Lila Snyder is leading the choir.

She talked to Variety‘s Strictly Business podcast, which you can hear below or wherever you get your podcasts.

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