Top Ten Movers and Shakers in Telecom
The hog-riding snapdragon from British Columbia has not only spent 32 years at Nortel, but stuck it out in upper management through the worst period in the company's history.
Mumford was joined at the hip with Don Smith in 2000 (see The Top Ten Movers and Shakers in Optical Networking), but he was left on his own as Nortel started a massive reorg early in 2001 (see Don Smith Leaves Nortel). The door to the executive suite commenced revolving uncontrollably: The CTO left under a cloud (see Nortel CTO Quits as Woes Mount). The COO and marketing mogul left (see Nortel's Empty Room at the Top and Nortel Finds New Marketing Chief). The CEO retired, was replaced, and was pilloried for greed (see Nortel Swings Axe, Switches CEOs and Nortel's Roth Rakes It In). The company's divisions were mixed and matched (see Nortel Unifies Optical). The would-be CEO left (see Plastina Out in Nortel Reshuffle). Through it all, Mumford stayed the course.
Mumford hasn't always made the right decisions. As manager and president of Nortel's optical products group from 1991 through 2001, when he became CTO (see Nortel Bets on Mumford), he must share some of the blame for Nortel's failure to cash in on IP routing, its slow rollout of the HDX grooming switch (see Nortel's HDX is Here and Nortel's HDX: The Future Under Fire ), and its rash of poorly picked acquisitions (see Whatever Happened to X?).
So what's so special about Mumford? Or Nortel, for that matter? Well, if one were to look at the slashing and burning that's gone on around the industry, Nortel has done a decent job of paring back to a core group of technically excellent products. Mumford can be credited with keeping Nortel focused on carrier Ethernet, a tack that's helped fuel its dominant hold in the metro and storage spaces (see Research: Metro Optical Peps Up). As CTO, Mumford can also take kudos for Nortel's ongoing strength in voice over IP, softswitching, and wireless technology, exemplified by strong wins worldwide (see Nortel Targets Carrier VOIP Migration, Nortel Wins China VOIP Deal, MCI Picks Nortel for VOIP, Nortel's Summer Abroad, and Nortel Lands Monster, SaskTel Deals).
And, honestly, Mumford can market with a minimum of BS. A list of Mumfordisms would be too exhaustive to introduce here. Okay, we'll pass along just one: "I hesitate to generalize, and blind loyalty serves no one." We have that crocheted on a pillow in our office. Thanks, Greg.