Don Smith Leaves Nortel

One of the optical industry's leaders dials out of Nortel -- possibly for a startup -- as a reorg gets underway

March 30, 2001

2 Min Read
Don Smith Leaves Nortel

Don’s just a startup guy, eh?

That’s the story coming out of Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/Toronto: NT) headquarters today. Don Smith, President of Optical Internet Solutions, today punched out for the last time at Nortel, possibly leaving to lead a startup, according to Nortel officials.

”Don has decided he’s moving on, that’s for sure,” said Greg Mumford, President of Nortel’s Optical Internet division. “It’s the entrepreneur in him doing one more. I’m pretty sure it’s going to be a smaller organization.”

It’s a big deal. The departure ends a two-year period of teamwork between Smith and Mumford at the top of Nortel's optical division. Smith was the marketing guru, complementing Mumford’s technical expertise (see Greg Mumford). Although Smith reported to Mumford, the pair presided over the core of Nortel’s optical networking products in a sort of tag-team fashion -- which led to their dual inclusion in Light Reading's Top Ten Movers and Shakers list.

Smith came to Nortel a little over two years ago through the december 1998 acquisition of startup Cambrian Systems. The Cambrian product has since become the Nortel’s Optera metro optical networking platform. Smith was the founder of Cambrian, where he was President and CEO. Prior to that, he was president of AIT and an executive vice president at Mitel Corp. (NYSE/Toronto/London: MLT).

According to Mumford, Smith stayed at Nortel slighty longer than the two years stipulated in the agreement covering the buyout of Cambrian.

There will be no direct replacement of Smith, but Nortel is in the process of reorganizing the optical networking group, according to Nortel officals.

For example, Brian McFadden, formerly vice president, Metro Optical Solutions, has been promoted to president of the Photonics Network, the new name for Nortel’s Metro Optical Networking division. Smith's reponsibilities in marketing the long-haul portion of the optical network will be assumed by Mumford.

Smith was unavailable for comment. Nortel officials said he has left the company Friday and is on vacation until he starts his new job. Light Reading will update this story with more information as it becomes available.

-- R. Scott Raynovich, executive editor, Light Reading

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