On the Job – With Mumford & Pals
Mumford: Is packetization happening? In some circumstances. But there are two different types of deployments. One is when a carrier builds a new network. And that’s not happening as much as anyone would like these days. The other is if an incumbent is upgrading its network, and they decide that it’s a good idea to invest in the technology – which is what Sprint did. But it’s very important when someone is making that decision – packetize or not – that you don’t present them with an either/or choice. You need to allow them the ability to upgrade at their own pace, without a complete overhaul, and not all at once. And that’s what we do, with both our service provider and our enterprise products, which let companies upgrade to packet voice workgroup by workgroup, if they feel like it. Everything we offer is compatible with TDM.
LR: How do you keep people motivated to make good products during a downturn?
Mumford: At a product company you have to make sure that you have an innovation engine. That’s part of my role. And Nortel let’s me do that. We did this by putting the product development into the business units, because having it centralized, like at Bell Labs or BNR, keeps it too far from the customer. We also have an investment board.
LR: Who’s on it?
Mumford: I am, and the three leadership category presidents.
LR: What if you can’t agree on a technology direction?
Mumford: It’s not a democracy, but usually reasonable people can agree.
[At this point we get stuck in a traffic jam. After a few minutes, the PR person driving decides to take a short – albeit somewhat illegal – detour, via a bus lane.]
PR person [seeing unidentified person standing by side of freeway up ahead]: Oh, is that a cop? [Attempts to nudge back into jam. Mumford and the Light Reading editor don’t like this move one bit.]
Mumford [to PR person]: No, no, you’ve committed yourself now.
LR: Yeah, go for it!
[The PR person obliges, and a police officer, who is, disappointingly, not dressed in traditional Mountie garb, promptly steps into the road and calls a halt to this nonsense.]
PR person: Sugar!
Police officer: I need your driver’s license. You’re in a bus lane.
PR person: Sorry.
[A passable imitation of “Let’s Make a Deal” follows, the result of which is the PR person gets a ticket, but no points on her license. The Light Reading editor resists the temptation to ask the police officer the whereabouts of her horse. We drive on and Mumford complains about how the police officer was nicer to the PR person than she would have been to him.]
PR person: Well, she was a woman, Greg.
Mumford [laughing]: We won’t get into any stereotypes here, and before you ask, no, you can’t put your ticket on expenses.
[We return to the main Nortel campus.]
Next page: Safe at Last