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INTERVIEW With "Business Week"

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Business Week reporter Olga Kharif asked ART's Managing Director to offer his opinions about what type of person ART would seek to recruit for Nortel's next CEO. Ms. Kharif's article is entitled "Nortel Needs a CEO. Interested?"

Atlantic Research Technologies, L.L.C. (ART),, is a global executive search firm, recruiting in the industrial, high tech and service sectors, for senior- and middle-management positions in general management, sales and marketing, finance, supply chain, manufacturing, IT, and human resources.

ART: "First, I would want to express to Nortel's Board that this is not a time to panic, but an opportunity to set the stage for an even better Nortel. Despite recent world market setbacks, the company has made tremendous gains and should be thinking of bringing in someone from outside Nortel who could build upon the company's successes. I would likely recommend that the CEO be a Canadian who has spent most of his or her time outside Canada, perhaps with significant experience running companies in the United States. While it might seem obvious to get someone from another networking company, a wireless data company, an optical company, or perhaps even from a telecom carrier, I would be more open to anyone who worked at large, multinational high-tech environments. I would like to see some experience at Silicon Valley-type startup companies as some sort of proof that the person can work in an unbureaucratic "shirtsleeves mode." I would love to see a person with direct experience posted in Asia, Europe and other international markets. It would be desirable for the person to speak at least one language in addition to English. I would want someone who really understands the exciting things being done with wireless technology in Europe and Asia, not just someone who has sold stuff to the Baby Bells in the U.S. I think that due to Canada's intimate political, technological, and financial involvement with Nortel, a non-Canadian CEO would encounter a great deal of opposition from within the operating units and in the nation as a whole. Beyond worrying about stock markets and competitors, the CEO would be expected to be endlessly available for federal and provincial ministers, and this person would be in the Canadian public eye to an extent that most non-Canadians might find hard to take. (On the plus side, it is great for a Nortel CEO to always have Canada's Prime Minister championing Nortel's products around the world.)

"I would probably look for someone who has had successful experience in the strategic spinning off of divisions, reorganizations of business units, or in mergers and acquisitions. Networking companies of the size of Nortel are so large and in so many different areas that it might seem necessary to reconfigure the company into more flexible businesses.  Getting a truly visionary CEO in a bad economy does not necessarily equate with finding a layoff hatchet man; it rather requires a sensible and compassionate strategic planner and a doer. The new CEO must have a track record of showing people that changing traditional ways of doing things can create opportunities for Nortel workers and Canada as a whole. This person must be an exceptional and sincere evangelist and a dealmaker. Perhaps an engineer by training who has spent much of his or her time in sales and marketing would be more appropriate for this than say, a person who has been solely in research or manufacturing for several decades. I would prefer that the person come in with a good respect for engineering and technical matters, in order to gain the loyalty of Nortel's engineers and customers, but, ultimately, the person must have really good business sense, a thick skin, and probably a good sense of humo[u]r."


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