McFadden, Spradley out at Nortel

There's some shaking going on at (NYSE/Toronto: NT) this week as two of the company's most senior executives are heading for the door.

Brian McFadden, the company's chief research officer, and Sue Spradley, its president of global services and operations, are leaving the company.

"Brian McFadden and Sue Spradley will be leaving Nortel. The company thanks them for their service and wishes them the best in their future endeavors," says a Nortel spokeswoman, when contacted by Light Reading on Tuesday afternoon.

McFadden, a 26-year Nortel veteran, became the company's chief technology officer in October 2004 and held that position until April 2005 when "the Cisco Garys" -- Gary Kunis and Gary Daichendt -- joined the company for three months of fun-filled infighting with Nortel's former CEO, Bill Owens. (See Nortel Changes CTO – Again and Nortel COO Resigns .) McFadden was unceremoniously dubbed Nortel's chief research officer, "a position no one's ever heard of," according to one former Nortel executive. But after the Cisco Garys left and new blood was pumped into the CEO's office, McFadden was never appointed back to his former role, so sources inside the company began to speculate that it'd only be a matter of time before he was shown the door.

During his tenure with Nortel, McFadden was president of the company's optical networks division, and, before that, president of its optical metro business. (See Don Smith Leaves Nortel, Nortel Unifies Optical, and McFadden In, Mumford Out as NT CTO). During his optical metro days, McFadden led the team that acquired Cambrian Systems in December 1998, one of Nortel's most famous M&A moves. (See Nortel Does a Metro Shuffle.)

Spradley, like McFadden, has been at Nortel for several years and has survived a multitude of executive shuffles -- each time landing close to the CEO's office. (See Nortel's Empty Room at the Top, Plastina Out in Nortel Reshuffle, and Nortel Reorganizes Again .)

Her previous titles include President of Wireline Networks and President of VOIP for Metro and Enterprise Networks. Spradley also was one of a handful of telecom executives picked to be on the National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee, which reports to the President. (See Nortel's Spradley Advises Prez.)

Spradley and McFadden are also among Nortel's core executive team that was caught up in former CEO Frank Dunn's return-to-profitability scandal -- a scheme which led to his ouster. According to SEC filings, McFadden repaid Nortel $899,630 Canadian and Spradley repaid $967,694 US as their way of showing "that while they had not engaged in the improper accounting activities," the executives shared their "deep disappointment in these actions…" (See Nortel Silent on Baffling Bonuses, Nortel Wants Its Bonuses Back, and Nortel Sues Former Executives.)

While it's not surprising that Nortel's new CEO, a former Motorola executive, would be quick to make changes to the executive ranks, some suggest that the rank and file at Nortel haven't been as big a mess lately as the company's top offices. (See Nortel, Moto Settle on Zafirovski and Your CMO Is Who?.) "Down in the trenches Nortel seems to be chugging along, benefited by increased carrier spending on optical, access, 3G, and VOIP," says Heavy Reading's chief analyst, Scott Clavenna.

— Phil Harvey, News Editor, Light Reading

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Physical_Layer 12/5/2012 | 2:52:44 AM
re: McFadden, Spradley out at Nortel This was announced to employees in an email on Monday afternoon. So it's nothing that you need PR to confirm for you.

Question is ... who is next?

Any guesses?
cyber_techy 12/5/2012 | 2:52:44 AM
re: McFadden, Spradley out at Nortel Nortel's web designers are probably the only ones busy, adding and remving executives bios.
stephencooke 12/5/2012 | 2:52:43 AM
re: McFadden, Spradley out at Nortel Brian is a decent guy. I am sure he will do well outside Nortel.


P.S. Which Gary is which in the picture...? ;)
stephencooke 12/5/2012 | 2:52:42 AM
re: McFadden, Spradley out at Nortel mangel an wissen:
"The real question was he a good CTO? Did NT ever have a good CTO?"

What should the CTO of Nortel look like? Should they be an industry mover and shaker or perhaps a visionary with drive? Should they have had a degree in economics or engineering? Should their background be more technical, business, or straight sales? Should they be known in standards bodies or by the executives in their customers? Should they be a name or an 'undiscovered' talent?

For a company such as Nortel what is most important:
- a name
- a plan
- a vision
- something new?

Is it necessary to be an insider or will an outsider have the intestinal fortitude to deal with an executive that has been fighting for its job both intellectually and politically?

I'd say it looks like a tough decision for Mike Z. and the board. I'd also say that making the wrong choice here is bad news. It looks like a tough, but absolutely essential, position to have filled for Nortel.

I wish them luck.

opticalman 12/5/2012 | 2:52:42 AM
re: McFadden, Spradley out at Nortel Probably some GM's from the business units

mangel an wissen 12/5/2012 | 2:52:42 AM
re: McFadden, Spradley out at Nortel The real question was he a good CTO? Did NT ever have a good CTO?

dwdm2 12/5/2012 | 2:52:42 AM
re: McFadden, Spradley out at Nortel stephencooke, I know I am not qualified to comment on Nortel's CTO (present or future). But...

"For a company such as Nortel what is most important:
- a name
- a plan
- a vision
- something new?"

For any technology company, "all of the above" is the answer for any person wanting to take the CTO position. IMO.
chook0 12/5/2012 | 2:52:41 AM
re: McFadden, Spradley out at Nortel No idea if he was a good CTO. Didn't have a very hard set of acts to follow though. But then, CTO position always comes with a target on the forehead.

But can say that Brin is a good leader and is one of the few execs who really added value when he went to help the troops out in the field.

Logical Thoughts 12/5/2012 | 2:52:39 AM
re: McFadden, Spradley out at Nortel Every time a new CEO joined Nortel, people knew that a whole list of upper management names were going to be wiped out. Unfortunately, scandals had delayed the executive cleaning events. It was only a question of time before it happened. The next layer to be cleaned up is the rank of GMs who, like most ex-Presidents in Nortel, moved up during the rising tides in Telecoms without much deliverables to show as track records. Most have delivered "spike performances" (i.e. one or two lucky contracts where they did little and ended up taking most of the credits) without much consistencies. Ulike the majority of large companies where senior execs are known to have consistent performances over many years before getting promoted.

Given Mike Z.'s background (motorola and GE), it won't take him too long before seeing through his GMs weak content and their weaker strategic and management skills. He will continue cleaning the house for a while. It's only a question of time.
Machavelli 12/5/2012 | 2:52:39 AM
re: McFadden, Spradley out at Nortel It is ashame it took so long to get rid of him !!
He is your typical over-paid under-performing executive of the bonus-gate era.

Hopefully, Mike Z will continue the trend of house cleaning and bring on-board more new blood.

But one has to ask what are Boulouri, Pusey and Mao still doing there.

What is Boulouri purpose ? Why does Mr. Z need a senior advisor ? Doesn't he know what he's doing as CEO ?

What new markets have Pusey and Mao opened up in Europe and China ? This answer is simple: None !

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