The human capital management industry has lost one of its leading voices. Norm Kamikow, president and editor in chief of MediaTec Publishing, died on Monday, July 14, after a sudden illness. He was 70.
For more than four decades, Mr. Kamikow was a leading figure in the publishing industry and in later years built MediaTec Publishing’s Human Capital Media Group, which includes this magazine, into one of the largest media companies in the human capital industry.
But for many, he will be remembered not for the scope of what he achieved or the impact it had on the professions he covered but for being a dedicated friend and colleague.
“In our journey through this industry we meet people that not only have a profound impact on our business but also on our lives. They become family,” said Bob Mosher, a consultant, former Microsoft executive and current Chief Learning Officer magazine editorial advisory board member. “Norm was that guy for so many. Yes, we have him to thank for lifting an industry … but he also helped many of us on a personal level.”
Born on Dec. 25, 1943 in Chicago, Mr. Kamikow moved as a young boy with his family to Los Angeles where according to friends he made an appearance on “Kids Say the Darndest Things” with TV host Art Linkletter. That turn as a TV celebrity was just one early example from a life filled with many more colorful and entertaining stories of which Mr. Kamikow was a master teller.
After graduating from Drake University with a degree in journalism, Mr. Kamikow moved back to Chicago and began a career in advertising sales at the Chicago Tribune. He went on to work at Seventeen magazine, Internet World and Web Week magazines and played a critical role in the launch of Omni and Spin magazines in the 1970s and 80s.
In 1999, Mr. Kamikow, along with his business partner John Taggart, executive vice president and group publisher, started MediaTec with the launch of Certification Magazine, which was aimed at career development for IT professionals. On a shoestring budget financed out of their own pockets, Kamikow and Taggart, along with Gwen Connelly, Mr. Kamikow's wife and MediaTec senior vice president, grew MediaTec from a single magazine into one of the largest media companies in the human resources and human capital industry, including four magazines, a series of national and regional conferences and events, dozens of webinars and virtual events as well as industry research and benchmarking programs.
The company’s Human Capital Media Group includes Chief Learning Officer magazine (launched in 2003), Talent Management (2005), Diversity Executive (2008) and in 2013 acquired Workforce magazine, a 92-year-old HR trade publication, from Crain Communications, Inc. Diversity Executive was recognized by American Business Media as one of the top three new magazines of 2008 and Chief Learning Officer was named “Best New Publication” by the American Society of Business Publication Editors in 2003.
Allison Rossett, recently retired as professor of educational technology at San Diego State University, recalled early conversations with Mr. Kamikow about what would eventually become Chief Learning Officer magazine.
“Norm was chewing on this idea about workforce learning and the executives who lead it. What did I think about a magazine that would be devoted to them and to their enterprises?” she recalled. “We talked. Soon he pulled together a meeting. More talk. The amazing thing is what happened afterwards.”
“Norm and John created something, many things, special things,” she said. “Responsive to that original audience, growing to include conferences and special events, growing more to include other publications, growing to use technology to extend key messages.”
For Cedric Coco, Chief Learning Officer magazine editorial advisory board member and senior vice president, learning and organizational effectiveness at Lowe’s Cos. Inc, Mr. Kamikow’s vision shaped how many define human capital management and his ongoing work pointed the way forward for the industry.
“I believe he was on the verge of redefining the holistic role that talent plays across an organization,” he said.
Mr. Kamikow received the 2005 Innovation Award from Media Business Magazine which honored him as its publisher of the year. He was nominated in 2008 by President George W. Bush to serve on the Board of Visitors for Defense Acquisition University, the federal government agency responsible for training and development of the 160,000 members of the U.S. Department of Defense’s acquisition workforce.
An avid golfer and Chicago sports fan, Mr. Kamikow split his time between his home in Chicago and Boca Raton, Fla., where he was a member of the Broken Sound Country Club.
He is survived by his wife, Gwen Connelly; sons Jeffrey Kamikow and David Kamikow; stepdaughter Kendra Chaplin, MediaTec vice president of development and technology; stepson Wesley Chaplin, and four grandchildren.
Editor's note: Have a memory or story to share about Norm's life? Include your comment below or send an email to editor@CLOmedia.com and we'll post a link.
- Remembering Norm Kamikow: Tony Bingham, President, Association for Talent Development (formerly American Society for Training and Development)
- Norm Kamikow Was an Icon of Learning and Development: Mike Hammer, blendedworkforce.com
- Norm Kamikow, CLO Publisher: Elliott Masie, Elliott Masie's Learning Trends
- We Have Lost Another Great Leader of Our Industry: Dave Vance, author of "The Business of Learning: How to Manage Corporate Training to Improve Your Bottom Line" and former president of Caterpillar University