Colin Holland, a longtime electronics-industry journalist who also played a leading role in organizing the technical programs of several high-profile conferences, died on Thursday in a London hospice after a year-long battle with cancer.
Holland's 35-year career in the business-to-business press was capped with his stint at EE Times publisher UBM Tech, which he joined full time in 2008. His initial responsibilities revolved around Embedded and the DesignLines. In 2011, Holland became content director for the ARM TechCon conference. Early last year, DesignCon and the DESIGN West and East conferences were added to his charter. Holland had told colleagues he considered his work on those events to be the most exciting post he'd ever held.
"In his most recent role as Content Director for our events, Colin had an extraordinary impact on our portfolio of conferences," said Kathy Astromoff, CEO of UBM Tech, Electronics. "His ability to intuit what engineers need to know was unmatched. More importantly, his many friends and colleagues at UBM – some of whom go back 30 years with Colin – will sorely miss his energy and ironic humor." Colin Holland at ARM TechCon in October, 2011, in Santa Clara, Calif.
Holland was one of a generation of British-born business-to-business journalists who built upon science educations to facilitate communications between industry and engineering professionals about the technology and business of electronics. His wide-ranging experience included stints at the UK publications Electronic Technology, Electronic Engineering, What's New In Electronics (WNIE), and Electronics Times.
As print gave way to the Web in the early 2000s, he served as online editor-in-chief for Embedded Systems Engineering and editor of Embedded Systems Europe.
Holland came back into the UBM orbit in 2006 when he was tapped for a freelance assignment to help start up EE Times Europe.
"I knew Colin for a long time as we worked on competing print publications in the UK where I quickly learned to respect his integrity and reporting style," said UBM Tech CEO Paul Miller. "I was delighted to have the chance to work with him on the same team when we launched EE Times in Europe and found that we had a great deal in common.
"We quickly became more than boss and employee and would spend much of our time together sharing our mutual passion for English lower league soccer," Miller said. "For me, Colin’s support for Charlton Athletic said a lot about him as a person. Loyal, supporting his soccer team and his work team with a passion and commitment that went beyond the call of duty, he did not put on, nor suffer, airs and graces and no matter how tough the going got, Colin was always there cheering on the team and bringing a sense of authenticity, reality – and a little levity – to situations that would have crushed many of us. Colin was just a great guy; honest, funny and caring."
When I joined EE Times, it was Colin who made me feel the most welcome. He would come over to my desk when he was in town and start a little chat, and we'd exchange anecdotes, and I remember thinking he was a really awesome guy. I told him once that I was fascinated with world war two technology and he lent me a book about code cracking in the 1940's. It was amazing, and I'll remember it forever. There's a yiddish word that perfectly sums up Colin to me... that word is "Mensch". Wishing his family a long life, and although this is sad sad sad news, I'm glad Colin finally found peace after his illness and pain.
I really enjoyed working with Colin. He was a talented Editor and Journalist but he was as Slyvie said was a "Mensch". It just won't be the same without him at Design West and not seeing him at Embedded World is very sad.
Such a loss. Colin was one of the kindest and most genuine people I have met in this industry. I will miss his wry sense of humor and his ability to put anyone at ease. Cheers to you, Colin Holland. You'll be missed.
Did you ever approach Colin at an event when he didn't have a wry smile and some time for you? I didn't.
Colin's grace was that, plus, at press conferences, he'd not hesitate to call out, politely, that what the executive had just uttered was the complete opposite of what he'd said just two months before at another event.
He said it thoughtfully, as if he was that executive's longtime psychiatrist, and the executive would invariably be left mumbling clarifications and apologies before the jovial bearded fellow with the huge heart and the easy grin.
A truly wonderful human being and a terrific journalist. In answer to Brian's question above: no, Colin ALWAYS had a smile on his face and time to catch up. It wasn't difficult to talk him into grabbing a pint or two around the corner.
I didn't have the opportunity to work with Colin as long as many others here, but I truly enjoyed the times I spent with him. I always enjoyed his "football" stories, even though I am an American and don't really understand the nuances of the game. His passion was just so genuine.
I feel privileged to have known Colin, learned from him, and called him my friend.
Colin always had time for everyone, a smile for everyone and a passionate dedication to his family, his football and his work. Colin was one of the most loveable characters in our industry I had the privilege of meeting him often over a period of more than 25 years. My deepest condolences to his family, and to his many friends and close work colleagues on both sides of the Atlantic.
Colin seemed like he was already a veteran when I entered trade journalism in the mid- to late-1980s. I learned a lot from sitting next to him in press conferences and just writing down the answers to the questions he asked.
Because professionally, Colin had a very rare talent - he knew how to ask the right questions, without ever seeming rude or unfriendly. As Brian has described, Colin was indeed jovial - but (as a PR) I knew that my clients underestimated him at their peril.
What do I think of when I picture Colin? Well, as anyone who ever met him would attest, Colin could talk the hind legs off a donkey.... I think of the passion that Dylan referred to in a previous comment - both for his personal interests and for his work; his interest in others; his genuine nature.
I didn't see him often but I'll miss him. Of course this is a sad time: but even now, thinking of Colin makes me smile, not frown. I'll find it easy to celebrate having known him.
What a shock and what terrible news. Colin was the very definition of a 'good bloke'. I'm honoured to have known and worked with him and to have been able to call him a friend. I'll miss him greatly, as will so many others in the industry. My sincerest condolences to his family.
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