Optical/IP Networks

Nortel's Clent Came & Went

At first glance, it seems clear that today's departure of Clent Richardson, Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) at Nortel Networks Ltd. , is the latest in the top table clearout by the vendor's new CEO, Mike Zafirovski -- even if Nortel is citing personal reasons for the resignation. (See Nortel Loses CMO and Nortel, Moto Settle on Zafirovski .)

After all, Nortel's new top dog has already given two other senior executives the order of the boot since he took the helm. (See McFadden, Spradley out at Nortel.)

But maybe it's not as simple as that! Could it be that Richardson has paid the price for bucking the CMO trend by being too high profile?

Cast your mind back, if you can, to September, when Ron Spithill vacated the CMO chair at Alcatel (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA), begging the question: Ron SpitWho? (See Your CMO Is Who?)

An in-depth study of the telecom sector [ed. note: about 7 minutes searching Google…] found that the industry's CMOs were a rather shy bunch on the whole. But Nortel's Richardson stood out from the crowd -- not only did he poll the most Google hits among his peers, he had actually been spotted, and nearly touched, by Light Reading staff within living memory.

So, could Richardson be the victim of his own relative fame? Should Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) head of marketing James Richardson -- second only to Nortel's Clent in the CMO Google hits chart (and probably no relation) -- be worried about his own job security?

Will CMO come to stand for Chief Marching-out-the-door Officer in this wonderful industry of ours?

Probably not. But we'll watch the space just in case.

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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