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The Diary of Ben V., Age 56

Ray Le Maistre

Dear Diary... At last, I'm here, in charge at Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU)!! And Pat's left the seat nice and warm. That was nice. I like Pat. (See Verwaayen Takes the Helm at AlcaLu.)

And most people think I'm the right man for the job, so that's pretty buff! I bet Henry Schacht voted "No" in that poll. He's gone now, though, 'coz he quit the board when Pat and Serge wrote their goodbye notes, so I don't care what he thinks any more. (See Russo, Tchuruk to Leave AlcaLu.)

Not only that, I'm even getting an annual salary of €1.2 million (and maybe some bonuses of up to €2.4 million a year, too, if I do really, really well), so I'll be able to afford to live in Paris. It's almost as expensive as London, and that's saying something!

At least the wine and the food should be good here – mmmm, food – now I'm hungry.

Must try not to think about food: Snacking between meals is not good for you – at least, that's what my wife Helena says.

She likes Paris better than London, but I think she still prefers New York. I'm sure I can sort out some trips to the "Big Apple."

Oh, there I go, thinking about food again...

Right. Must concentrate. The first thing I need to do is write a really cool "To Do" list – that's what all new CEOs do. Now, where's my favorite pencil...

Got it, and it's already sharpened! Great. Here goes.

  • Tell everyone that everything's going to be OK at Alcatel-Lucent now I'm in charge. That should buy me a few weeks at least to organize my desk. My lucky gonk has to be in just the right place, next to the phone.

  • Sort out my daily breakfast order. Now I can get a lovely buttered croissant instead of that greasy bacon roll that turned up every day in London. And the baguettes will be better too – I love baguettes! Still hungry, but must stop thinking about snacks!

  • Make sure I don't call my new company Alcatel Minus Lucent. That wouldn't be good for morale, especially in Noo Joisee. Hee hee – I like saying it like that!
  • Sort out a dinner date with the new chairman, Philippe Camus. I can even choose a place where the menu's all in French, because he'll know what it all means. That should be nice. We're going to get along just fine, I think. I got on well with my chairman at BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA), but some of the executives were a bit spiky. Wonder what the crew is like here? Must get them out to the local bistro. Is it lunch time yet?
  • Now that I'm thinking about BT (and I haven't done that for quite a while now – ha!), I must get in touch with some of the good staff there and see if they fancy moving to Paris. I need some buddies in my new work "crib."
  • Block off Monday, Sept. 29 in my diary. Have to go to Brussels and give a keynote address at the Broadband World Forum show. Only doing it because Pat had already agreed on the slot, but she'll be at the shops with her big pay-off by then. It'll be OK, though – it'll give me another chance to tell everyone how I'm going to turn this company around, and I'll be able to crack some jokes about how cloudy the beer is in the Brussels bars and how the Belgians like to dip their fries in mayonnaise. Actually, that sounds pretty good – now I'm hungry again! Bah!
  • Just took a look at the latest financial reports. What the hell is going on with this CDMA stuff? (See AlcaLu's Q2 Dragged Down by CDMA.) Must put a call in to this Mike Iandolo chap – he's in charge of that business. Or maybe I should talk to Mary Chan – she's his boss, because she's in charge of the wireless stuff. Or maybe I should talk to Michel Rahier – it looks like he's Mary's boss! That's all a bit confusing – must sort out the reporting structure. (See AlcaLu Revamps Its Carrier Business.) I think I might go and see Iandolo – he's based near New York, and then I can take Helena with me. She'd like that.
  • Check out some decent flats in Paris. Must make sure I don't get one right next to that late-night Hustler club in the Rue Berri – that's the mistake Mike Quigley made when he was here. No wonder he went back to Australia – he couldn't get any sleep when he was in town!
  • Need to talk to the CFO, and find out where all our money is going. Must find out how to say his name properly first, though. Is it really Dee Peskydoo? That can't be right.
  • Pick a French soccer team to support. I chose English team Arsenal while I was at BT, though I'd have been better off choosing Chelsea or Manchester United because they seemed to win everything. The Marseille team is doing well at the moment, but the big Parisian side PSG is doing OK too, so maybe I should stick with the local club. Must go out and buy a PSG shirt I can wear if I go to any matches. Wonder if they do nice food at PSG's soccer stadium?

    Right, that'll do for now. All this talk about food is putting me off my work. Time for some Moules Mariniere and a glass of vino collapso methinks! Yum!!

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