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Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved?

In its news blitz last night, Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/Toronto: NT) stressed that it's remolding itself to fit the current economic conditions (see Nortel Swings Axe, Switches CEOs). In the process, it's jettisoning substantial "non-core assets" and changing its focus once again.

So what goes and what stays? And will it be sufficient to save the foundering firm?

Nortel itself is not giving much color. But a few key items of information can be gleaned from the deluge of data Nortel's dumped on press, investors, and customers over the past few days.

First, it's clear that Nortel's not really changing its product focus, even though it's reducing its focal areas from five to three. Three former focal areas -- Optical Metro, Intelligent Internet, and Voice Over IP -- are being folded into a single Metro group under the presidency of Frank Plastina.

This isn't a surprise. With former CFO Frank Dunn installed as CEO, it looks as though Plastina (who was also widely discussed as a possible successor to John Roth) has adopted responsibility for the majority of products at Nortel -- a job he's been working into all year (see Nortel's Empty Room at the Top).

It also seems clear that one of Nortel's primary goals right now may not be eliminating products, but cutting costs in areas such as manufacturing.

For instance, today Nortel announced it will turn over the manufacture, integration, configuration, and testing of its DMS circuit switches to C-MAC Industries Inc. (NYSE: CMS) (see Nortel Dumps Some More). While Nortel will continue to support the DMS products, it will cut an undisclosed amount by selling to C-MAC its DMS plant in Research Triangle Park, N.C.

Nortel is taking similar cuts elsewhere. In cases in which it's not eliminating products, it's intent on trimming the cost of manufacturing and supporting them. In France, for instance, the company has rearranged a longstanding distribution deal with its subsidiary Matra Nortel Communications. In a series of new contracts, Nortel is selling the equipment distribution rights in France owned by that subsidiary to a third party (see Nortel Divesting).

Nortel also will reduce its component business by 50 percent and take restructuring charges against the facilities that close as a result of that move.

All this rearranging doesn't mean products won't continue to be cut. Nortel already has sold access and DSL gear worth roughly $397.5 million to Zhone Technologies Inc. (see Zhone Acquires Nortel's Access Gear). On September 11, it announced the sale (terms undisclosed) of its M6500 PBX line to the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS) N.V. (NYSE/Toronto: NT). And yesterday, Nortel announced it's arranged to sell Clarify, a maker of customer relationship management software that it purchased in 2000 for about $2.1 billion.

Nortel is selling Clarify for $200 million in cash to Amdocs Ltd. (NYSE: DOX), which makes billing and customer support software for carriers. Nortel says the sale gives Amdocs all of the Clarify assets, including its office in San Jose, Calif. Clarify says it will be trimming its 1,000-person workforce in anticipation of the merger with Amdocs.

In all, Nortel plans to net about $700 million from the proceeds of all sales of non-core assets, which will be recorded in the fourth quarter of 2001 and the first quarter of 2002.

In the end, will all of this slicing and dicing be enough to save the company? On the whole, financial analysts say yes. "Our thesis that NT remains well positioned to survive the downturn and positively benefit in the next cycle remains intact," writes James Parmelee of Credit Suisse First Boston in a note today.

Others seem more concerned with the overall economy than with Nortel's state of health. "We are maintaining our Neutral rating on Nortel... The company continues to experience declines... However, we are encouraged by management's comments it believes carrier spending is approaching sustainable levels and that it is ahead in its restructuring process," writes Christin Armacost of SG Cowen Securities.

Investors, too, seem positively disposed to Nortel's news. In late-afternoon trading today, Nortel's stock was selling for $5.54, up 0.25 (4.73%), though Nortel shares certainly didn't participate as heavily as other stocks in a massive Nasdaq rally.

But in light of the missteps of the past years, many ex-employees remain skeptical of the company, noting that the financials don't convey the flight of top engineering talent. In fact, Nortel's biggest problem may now be morale -- either in drawing new talent or convincing its best employees to stick around for a recovery. Many folk interpret the installation of a CFO in Nortel's top spot as a signal that the company could find no one better and that its assets are up for auction. They express concern that defections of executives like Jules Meunier, former head of wireless products, show Nortel's loss of recruiting cachet.

Despite it all, Nortel's management seems bent to its task of carving the company down to a more manageable size. "We clearly have laid out a workplan," Frank Dunn told analysts last night. "Now we need to execute."

— Mary Jander, Senior Editor, Light Reading
http://www.lightreading.com
gladysnight 12/4/2012 | 7:44:11 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? I don't expect to see a jump tomorrow, but I think Nortel's position is at least as strong as its competitors and it's WAY too early to count them out.
-----------------------------

Maybe, and maybe not, but since "it's competitors" are pretty much universally under severe threat of death and/or dismemberment, this is not exactly confidence inspiring.

Speaking of which, the Quote of the Week really was good. I laughed and laughed.

Straight from the henry schacht guide to major clusterf**k turnarounds.

If that is the level of imagination and innovation in NT's highest management then lord help them!
fruitloops 12/4/2012 | 7:44:16 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? With the current cast of characters, NT has no chance of survival. Dunn will most likely spin news as best he can while at the same time looking at how to best bust up the company and sell it in pieces.

Anyone seen Chainsaw Al Dunlap around these days?
detailsdetails 12/4/2012 | 7:44:29 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? <<"I own some Nortel stock (won't sell it to you), ">>

I wouldn't buy it but maybe I'll short it. You don't mind if I borrow your shares do you?

<< I've seen just as much questioning Cisco's long-term future>>

Could you please refer me to any discussion or news link talking about Cisco being taken over or potentially filing for bankruptcy.

<>

Correct

<< but I think Nortel's position is at least as strong as its competitors >>

Could you please elaborate on this comment? Please specify by market segment and associated competitor(s).

<<and count="" early="" it's="" out.="" them="" to="" too="" way="">>

By no means is it WAY too early.

I'm looking forward to your reply or replies from any others out there.




</and>
cyberscanner 12/4/2012 | 7:44:41 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? Well, I just joined the list and, admittedly may be naive, but I think this says a lot. I own some Nortel stock (won't sell it to you), and think that, despite the problems, I'll hold on to it.

It's easy to pick out losses and God knows Nortel has had its share, but NT rises AND FALLS with the rest and I've seen just as much questioning Cisco's long-term future (in those days las year when NT could do no wrong)as I do now of NTs.

I don't expect to see a jump tomorrow, but I think Nortel's position is at least as strong as its competitors and it's WAY too early to count them out.
whose 12/4/2012 | 7:44:46 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? Speculative bubble - 10 competitors can't all go after 25% of the available market and succeed. Also, if you're building as if the market is doubling every 3-4 months, but in fact is only double every year, well then, something has to give...
lcwang 12/4/2012 | 7:44:49 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? Then, what's the real reason of this industry downturn?
Litewave 12/4/2012 | 7:44:50 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved?
They announced a new Layer 2-7 switch today which indicates that some significant product development is taking place.

Doesn't appear to be anything new...

http://www.lightreading.com/bo...

LW
Belzebutt 12/4/2012 | 7:45:07 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? Between NT, ALA, and LU -- one of these has to come out alive, no? Seems that at least one destined for failure? The other -- unsure or morphed completely. But, which is which?

Don't forget Ericsson, they're just about ready to bite the dust. Oh, and Marconi too. And didn't Siemens announce layoffs? And Juniper's 1-year stock price fall is actually worse than NT's:
http://finance.yahoo.com/q?d=c...
Wait a minute, I think have an industry downturn here...
PantomineHorse 12/4/2012 | 7:45:07 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? "If all your knowledge of the industry was coming from this article, obviously you'd think NT was screwed. But put this article into perspective and what do you find?
- NT market cap is between that of LU and ALA, they all fluctuate on a weekly basis, but they are in the same ballpark (this week it's on the low side, last week it was close to LU)."

Between NT, ALA, and LU -- one of these has to come out alive, no? Seems that at least one destined for failure? The other -- unsure or morphed completely. But, which is which?
kephill 12/4/2012 | 7:45:08 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? They announced a new Layer 2-7 switch today which indicates that some significant product development is taking place.
Belzebutt 12/4/2012 | 7:45:09 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? Nortel future !!!!! Any comment for the following article ?

http://www.nwfusion.com/news/2...


If all your knowledge of the industry was coming from this article, obviously you'd think NT was screwed. But put this article into perspective and what do you find?
- NT market cap is between that of LU and ALA, they all fluctuate on a weekly basis, but they are in the same ballpark (this week it's on the low side, last week it was close to LU).
- The stock chart looks horrible, but it's pretty average compared to the other guys, even CSCO.
- Why wouldn't CSCO acquire LU or ALA instead of NT? Is it because NT still has the best tech? Is it because it still has great talent? In that case, perhaps things aren't so bad. Or, maybe NT is not the only possible acquisition, or maybe NT is not in any more danger of acquisition than ALA and LU, and this article is just hot air, focused on NT simply because it was the latest company to make headlines...
nonobvious 12/4/2012 | 7:45:10 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? > I short

Sorry to hear that, but it does explain a lot.
GJ 12/4/2012 | 7:45:10 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? There is an old saying among us marketing hacks that "you can't save your way out of a recession." Although that is true for every industry, it is especially true in technology. You can't stop building faith and trust that you're going to be around and you certainly can't the drop engineers who are creating your next big thing or you'll be left with stale technology and no market.

Every time I see a website proclaiming that "employees are our greatest resource", I think of the counter-intuitive view of money that banks have. Banks think of money on account as a liability - assets are the money out on loan. In the case of Nortel, it seems like the intellectual capital is more valuable to them on the street!

Nortel is toast. They haven't cut the fat, muscle and bones - they've cut the brains.
dodo 12/4/2012 | 7:45:10 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? Nortel seen risking R&D

Latest layoffs likely include skilled pros


Canadian Press

Monday, October 8, 2001 G«Ű Print Edition, Page B12



TORONTO -- Canada won't be unscathed by the latest job cuts at Nortel Networks Corp., and Nortel employees remaining to be laid off after previous downsizings are likely highly skilled professionals -- whose departure raises questions about the company's research capabilities.

"Many of those people will be talented researchers, scientists and engineers and others who won't be around to help Nortel take advantage of the boom that we will see down the road in both wireless and fibre-optic technologies," said David Ellis of consultant Omnia Communications Inc. in Toronto.

"When you cut a company by 50 per cent, my wild guess is that there's going to be a brain drain out of Nortel as a result of the cuts, inevitably -- and they've got no choice," he said.

Nortel announced last week that it was cutting 19,500 more jobs, and warned of more losses as the industry continues to suffer from a drastic slowdown.

With the latest cuts, Nortel will have slashed its work force by more than half this year -- to 45,000 from about 95,000.

The latest cuts will be "across the board and around the globe," Nortel spokeswoman Tina Warren said Friday.

Ms. Warren wouldn't specify the number of jobs that will remain in Canada after these cuts, expected to be completed this month. At the end of last year, the company had 25,600 workers in Canada, about 27 per cent of its global work force.

If Canada retains that share of Nortel's worldwide staff, that would leave about 12,000 workers.

"There's the old expression: There's cutting fat, there's cutting muscle and then there's cutting bone. We are just about at bone," said Duncan Stewart, portfolio manager with Tera Capital Corp.

"And that's what Nortel has to do."

Nortel has its headquarters in Brampton, just west of Toronto, and its largest research facilities are in Ottawa. In Montreal, staff work on optical and wireless Internet technologies, and there is a supply chain facility in St-Laurent, Que. In Calgary, the company has a supply chain facility, as well as a wireless division that opened this year.

Most telecom equipment and component makers have slashed their work forces this year, but few as severely as Nortel.

The biggest company in the sector, Cisco Systems Inc., has cut more than 8,500 jobs this year, and JDS Uniphase Corp. eliminated 16,000.

In a conference call with Nortel management last week, analysts questioned whether the job cuts would hurt the company's research and development and leave it trailing its competitors.

"The problem is, the people already there were trying and struggling, doing more with less before these cuts," said Lawrence Surtees, a senior telecom analyst with research firm IDC Canada. "That work still needs to be done."

"There's going to be upheavals here that they're going to have a hard time getting over," Omnia's Mr. Ellis said.

"What this means is it will put them at a competitive disadvantage compared to certain other companies that aren't having to hack into the staff so drastically."

While many of the Nortel workers laid off last year or earlier this year were scooped up by other high-tech companies, Mr. Ellis said the economy makes the outlook bleaker for the newly dismissed.

And Mr. Surtees said surviving Nortel employees -- "the walking wounded" -- will be highly stressed with low morale.

Incoming chief executive officer Frank Dunn, named to the post last week, defended the cuts, telling analysts that research and development won't be hurt.


opticguy 12/4/2012 | 7:45:11 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? Nortel future !!!!! Any comment for the following article ?

http://www.nwfusion.com/news/2...
allrounder 12/4/2012 | 7:45:13 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? In Cisco, C++ is prohibited in some projects if in all.

should have read "if NOT in all"
asmo 12/4/2012 | 7:45:13 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? Now there is a good subject for an argument embedded 'C++'.

C++ is great when you have a bunch of skilled engineers that understand embedded systems and understand C++. But in reality getting skilled people in 'C' is difficult.

Although you can use C++ as a 'better C' and limit the language constructs that may be used and still get some of the benefits of the language without exposing a project to the potential risks of letting non-experienced people 'play' with all the powerful features of the language. Been there done that.

Could be worse, you could decide to use Java in an embedded system that has some real-time requirements. Get a lot of 'C' programmers and let them loose on developing a huge system with leading bleeding edge unproven technology. (Btw, how is the project called 'Equinox' doing in Nortel any way? ;)

Asmo
Lopez 12/4/2012 | 7:45:13 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? In Cisco, C++ is prohibited in some projects if in all. C is the choice. In other San Jose startups, you are fired or condemned if you write in C++. That's the fact.

Which is a shame, because proper OO coding can really simplify code, and does not incur the performance penalty that everyone thinks. I guess the problem is that few people actually know how to do OO programming, and poor OO coding can actually make things worse.
asmo 12/4/2012 | 7:45:13 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? dljvjbsl,

you are stating that you find in your experience that 'soft-skills' questions are valuable when interviewing people. Fair enough, no argument there.

Those of us that have experienced Nortel interviews and Cisco interviews are saying that the Nortel interview process in inadequate as it lacks testing basic technical knowledge and seems to concentrate solely on 'touchy-feely' questions that can easily be answered with someone who can 'talk-the-talk'.

I'm not saying all 'touchy-feely' questions are useless in an interview. I'm not disagreeing with the statement that appropriate 'touch-feely' questions can be used to assess an experienced engineers abilities.

Put simply the Nortel interview process does not filter the good from the bad, it has allowed non-capable people to climb onboard Nortel and hang-on for a free ride.

Asmo
allrounder 12/4/2012 | 7:45:14 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? Actually, a lot of my time at NT I wondered why we were using C++, when most people were still coding in C.

------------------------------------------------

In Cisco, C++ is prohibited in some projects if in all. C is the choice. In other San Jose startups, you are fired or condemned if you write in C++. That's the fact.
allrounder 12/4/2012 | 7:45:14 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? Your interpretation was wrong. I suggest you go back to read each of my messages. I did point out Cisco did test what you called "senior skills" in a smart way.

Grasp the point before you debate so that you don't just repeat the same things for a thousand times.

By the way, Cisco did ask the projects you worked on and techinal issues you encountered. I mentioned it was a 6-hour interview.

Please read befoe you put fingers on keyboard.
dljvjbsl 12/4/2012 | 7:45:15 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? skeptic writes:

The way I'm reading it, the nortel interview
didn't focus on practical skills at all and that
was what was being criticized.


My opinion as I have stated it before is that the 'touchy-feeley' questions that Nortel is supposed to ask are much more revealing of technical competence that whiteboard questions on simple technical topics. Asking someone what he considers to be a technical challenge reveals much and the interviewer can see whether the skill level revealed by that question suits the job. I found in my innterviews that the touchy-feeley type questions were subtle ways of getting to teh nub of someone's techncial skill as in teh question of how the canadate dealt wotih a diffcicult technical problem (i.e. what he considrs diffciult will reveal what he is capable of).


And if you review your response (one more time),
you quite clearly stated that you didn't consider
many of the sample technical questions to be
appropriate for a senior designer.


My opinion is that the original poster does not understand teh purpose and aims of the touchy-feeley Nortel questions. They have a very strong techncial background and reveal much more besides. So if his opinion on Nortel offering positions on years of experiece is based on this, I do not see how his opinion is supported.

I again also reiterate that the technical questions reported in the original post do not suit a senior designer. Perhaps I have an elevated opinion of what a senior (not junior) designer is supposed to do but it would be far beyond that. I would find out what a senior designer candidate is capable by asking him to describe his last significant project with its architecture and implementation issues. This would tell me if he understood it and to what level he contributed. This is beyond asking how a dual port RAM works which is a logic design 101 question.

He also quite clearly suggests that he thought
that nortel was making offers to people strictly
based on years of experience. And I don't
see any statement that cisco only asked technical
questions.


That is teh way I interpreted it. It was also stated clearly in later posts but perhaps (I don't recall) by the original posterskeptic writes:

The way I'm reading it, the nortel interview
didn't focus on practical skills at all and that
was what was being criticized.


My opinion as I have stated it before is that the 'touchy-feeley' questions that Nortel is supposed to ask are much more revealing of technical competence that whiteboard questions on simple technical topics. Asking someone what he considers to be a technical challenge reveals much and the interviewer can see whether the skill level revealed by that question suits the job. I found in my interviews that the touchy-feeley type questions were subtle ways of getting to the nub of someone's technical skill as in the question of how the candidate dealt with a difficult technical problem (i.e. what he considers difficult will reveal what he is capable of).


And if you review your response (one more time),
you quite clearly stated that you didn't consider
many of the sample technical questions to be
appropriate for a senior designer.


My opinion is that the original poster does not understand teh purpose and aims of the touchy-feeley Nortel questions. They have a very strong technical background and reveal much more besides. So if his opinion on Nortel offering positions on years of experience is based on this, I do not see how his opinion is supported.

I again also reiterate that the technical questions reported in the original post do not suit a senior designer. Perhaps I have an elevated opinion of what a senior (not junior) designer is supposed to do but it would be far beyond that. I would find out what a senior designer candidate is capable by asking him to describe his last significant project with its architecture and implementation issues. This would tell me if he understood it and to what level he contributed. This is beyond asking how a dual port RAM works which is a logic design 101 question.

He also quite clearly suggests that he thought
that nortel was making offers to people strictly
based on years of experience. And I don't
see any statement that cisco only asked technical
questions.


That is the way I interpreted it. It was also stated clearly in later posts but perhaps (I don't recall) by the original poster





allrounder 12/4/2012 | 7:45:15 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? I got wrong understanding of my message. When I said "like Nortel's passport...", in English it was just an example. That didn't appoint you as a Nortel employee. You could still work for Ciena or Lucent.

Lopez 12/4/2012 | 7:45:15 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? I can recall something of this. We had two consultants who were supposedly helping a team come up to speed on a new technology. To assess the team they asked some questions about the area. One of my senior colleagues was going through the process. He answered the question of how to ensure that only one object can be instantiated from a class by saying that the singleton pattern should be used. He was marked as incorrect and told that a class variable should be used instead. - no kidding. He was told to keep his mouth shut since he didnG«÷t grasp the basics and let the consultants lead the project.

I had to code something at NT once that required that a single instance of an object be created, so I used the Singleton pattern since it was so obvious. Anyway, later on I get hammered from "senior" people for this "confusing" code. If forget exactly how they got me to change it, but I believe they wanted a class variable used. Anyway, crap like this where "senior" designers are too stubborn to change their ways, or to unambitious to keep up with the current state of software engineering is a real drain on moral.

Actually, a lot of my time at NT I wondered why we were using C++, when most people were still coding in C.

allrounder 12/4/2012 | 7:45:16 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? You got my initial points. I didn't mean Cisco didn't care about a person's problem solving capability. In one of my reply, I pointed out Cisco test a person's motivation, initiative and probelm solving capability in a very different way, a very smart way, mixed with technical questions. They didn't ask idiotic soft questions because they knew answers to those questions are easy to fake.
skeptic 12/4/2012 | 7:45:16 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? /
You "agree" now???!?
/

You missed mu\y comment that the original post ciricised Nortel's interview technqique and praised interiviews that test technical skills only
---------
Well, lets go back and look at it:

---------
I worked for both Nortel and Cisco. The interview with NT was so easy-going and useless. I don't think my skills were fully recognized. That made me feel bad because everybody was offered on years of experience no matter what an idiot you were. In Contrary, the interview with Cisco was very different. They asked me to code programs on the whiteboard and asked very detailed tech questions.
===============

The way I'm reading it, the nortel interview
didn't focus on practical skills at all and that
was what was being criticized.

He also quite clearly suggests that he thought
that nortel was making offers to people strictly
based on years of experience. And I don't
see any statement that cisco only asked technical
questions.

And if you review your response (one more time),
you quite clearly stated that you didn't consider
many of the sample technical questions to be
appropriate for a senior designer.




dljvjbsl 12/4/2012 | 7:45:16 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? /
You "agree" now???!?
/

You missed mu\y comment that the original post ciricised Nortel's interview technqique and praised interiviews that test technical skills only

I stand by my opinion that the 'touchy-feeley' questions that Nortel is purported to use are good for identfying a canadiates true technical skill level and much more besides.Asking a few simple white board questions on commonplace technical skills do not, in my opinion, do this.

dljvjbsl 12/4/2012 | 7:45:17 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? allrounder writes more personal invective mixed with some points:

I see your pattern now, and also I see the rationality of Nortel's failure from you. You mentioned how many papers you have and how many patents you own. Please answer this question: Have you delivered any product? Have you contributed to a successful project? Just name one or two, like Nortel's Passport or any Sonet products, or wireless products.

G«ˇG«÷G«÷G«÷
What makes you think I work for Nortel. I don't. As for my contributions, there are a great many of them and some of them are very significant. Nortel even developed a product that they said would replace my employer's products in the market (maybe you worked in it?). Just before Nortel released it, my company released the new product from on my and my groups' ideas. We didn't hear from Nortel about destroying our company again.

Their brand new killer product dropped like a stone. Our new product reset the competitive bar and their product didn't meet it. I guess that will satisfy your interest in my contributions.

By the way you have undoubtedly used some of the circuits I have personally designed. They are everywhere at the periphery of the network. There was one in the center that supplied a large portion of the network but this has undoubtedly been declared obsolete by now.

In cisco, nobody doing pure research like you are doing. Cisco's patents are from actual products not from some fictional thinking. That makes Cisco's patents big contribution to industry.


G«ˇG«÷G«÷

I know about this. Cisco people are in some of the standards groups I work on. I was quite impressed when they announced some of their patents to one of the groups. So much for patents being useless which you quite rightly point out is not true of Cisco's patents and which is also true of mine.
skeptic 12/4/2012 | 7:45:17 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? >>I do not think anyone is disagreeing with you >>on this, but 'ex-Nortelers' seem to think the >>process is focusing too much on 'soft-skills' >>and not on the technical capabilities of the >>candidates.

>I agree with you on this but would add the >initial comments on this topic consisted of >severe criticisms of soft skill questions and >paeans to questions about specific technical >skills only.
xxxxx

You "agree" now???!?

Don't you remember writing the following:




=========
I interview and hire senior designers. I'm pretty astounded that anyone would consider the trechnical questions above to be appropriate for someone at that level. Imagine asking someone, who will be responsible for major parts of the design, questions on elementary C.
=========

Did you just sort of forget your own "paean"
above which suggests that its inappropriate
to ask senior engineers to show really basic
coding compentence or basic knowledge of their
field (how an IP router works, SVCs vs. PVCs in
ATM...etc).




asmo 12/4/2012 | 7:45:18 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? >>Belzebutt:You mean it's not like that at other big companies? :)


Yeah of coarse it is, its just the percentage that is different: 25% of people care/75% don't compared with Nortel's 20%/80% ratio.

;)

Asmo
dljvjbsl 12/4/2012 | 7:45:18 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? Asmow writes:

with regard to interview techniques

I do not think anyone is disagreeing with you on this, but 'ex-Nortelers' seem to think the process is focusing too much on 'soft-skills' and not on the technical capabilities of the candidates.


I agree with you on this but would add the initial comments on this topic consisted of severe criticisms of soft skill questions and paeans to questions about specific technical skills only. The acceptance that there are other topics of interest than the answer to specific technical questions came only later. There was a sub-text in the thread as well that mangers are lane and 'technically ignorant' which I have also been addressing which may excuse my lack of answer to your specific observations. I'll attempt to deal with them now.

Now the technical skill questions will probably of interest primarily in the assessment of candidates for junior or entry level positions. However there is much more to technical competence than the ability to answer questions on commonplace technical issues.

One of the issues in this was the putative Nortel question:

What is the most difficult technical problem you encountered and how did solve it? (grab one in my mind and stress hardworking, teamwork and personal intellegience).

Now what is this question asking. It seems to me it is asking quite a lot even if the original poster didn't seem to realize it. it is asking in the first place what the candidate thinks is a difficult technical issues. This will identify the level top which he has contributed to projects in the past. It also identifies his technical skill level. This is beyond any reseume or white board questions. It potentially finds out how he deals with colleagues, stress and frustration. Perhaps for strategic reasons his ideas were not used and he is bitter about it. Perhaps not but it will explore the area.

Now Nortel is criticized for asking such a question in an interview that was 'easy going and useless'. I don't see the question as easy going and useless but as very demanding and whose answer whatever it is will be very revealing.

I can recall interviewing a candidate for a very senior job. I was part of the group that put him through the technical interview. He seemed to know his stuff and seemed to be able to get along with us. We alls eemed to think that he would get the job. The HR rep then took over and began to ask some 'touchy-feeley' questions that he apparently thought were below his station. He began to quietly insult and ridicule her. We all saw how he would really behave in the group and made our decision we thought clear. Unbelievably he kept sending us Emails about the job and how he didn't understand why he replied to her questions as such. perhaps we didn't but we had our opinions and we didn't change them.

We had another technical interview this time with someone with strong academic qualifications. We asked him the 'touchy-feeley' questions and kept being told that we wouldn't understand the technology that he was bringing to the company. This made for a very interesting interview as his answers made his true attitudes very apparent.

He was quite surprised when he was told that the interviewers who wouldn't understand the technology he was offering us had Ph.Ds in it. When we showed him the aims and objectives of our project he was again dumb founded. It was quite beyond his experience.

'Touchy-feeley' questions of the types Nortel is said to use are not 'easy going and useless'. They are insightful and revealing. They require the candidate to give information that he might otherwise be trying to hide. They are created and given by people with education, skill and experience in the social sciences.

I was first hired for a job in a project in which only the top 1% of existing employees were considered for employment. I graduated first in my class so I had a good opinion of my skills. As would be expected, I found that everyone who worked with me there had exceptional skills. I also began to work with someone whom I discovered to have world class skills. His was and is absolutely brilliant. This opened my mind to respect the skills of others and to keep my mind open and listen so I can absorb some of those skills. I learned that attitude there from the exceptional and world-class engineers that I worked with and I have taken that lesson to people with other skills. If someone with social science skills tells me that these 'touchy-feeley' questions (or touchy-feeley crap as I have learned in this thread is the technical term for these questions) then I listen.

When a previous manager arranged for us to learn from an HR rep on successful interview techniques, I put aside my physical science prejudices and learned. I used her techniques in many interviews and found that they work.
allrounder 12/4/2012 | 7:45:18 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? d*****,

I see your pattern now, and also I see the rationality of Nortel's failure from you. You mentioned how many papers you have and how many patents you own. Please answer this question: Have you delivered any product? Have you contributed to a successful project? Just name one or two, like Nortel's Passport or any Sonet products, or wireless products.

Here is my view on papers and patents. Only less than 5% of patents are really useful and impelmented in products. 95% of patents are craps and waste of time and waste of company money. In cisco, nobody doing pure research like you are doing. Cisco's patents are from actual products not from some fictional thinking. That makes Cisco's patents big contribution to industry. In Nortel, I know there usually be a research group under each director. Do you know why? Because those director want to keep his headcount high. In a Nortel department I worked for, there was a research group. Those guys in that group seemed working so hard and published boxs of papers, gained cans of patents. Guess what? None of those so called patents are used in real products. We, in development group, always teasing those guys were cooking craps.

I don't want to guess which company you are "contributing" and what kind of senior manager you are "cooking" for, but I definitely see the fate of your company. One word, go with Nortel.
Belzebutt 12/4/2012 | 7:45:19 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? Skeptic is on target with his observations regarding 'The don't care' attitude inside Nortel. I've witnessed many similar events that he previously described.

You mean it's not like that at other big companies? :)
asmo 12/4/2012 | 7:45:20 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? Skeptic is on target with his observations regarding 'The don't care' attitude inside Nortel. I've witnessed many similar events that he previously described.

Face it Nortel has a major working cultural problem, people need to stop sticking their heads in the sand and flag it to senior management to do something about it. Of coarse that's if the senior manager actually cares about the company, he/she may have a golden parachute ready and is just putting in their day waiting until they get a big pay-off.

I think the condition is terminal without an outsider becoming CEO and clearing the house of the 'old-boy network' and majorly changing things.

Asmo
skeptic 12/4/2012 | 7:45:22 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? I have seen many instances in which so-called practical people claim that they have specific insight to technology that is denied to the ordinary mortal. They confuse their specific skills with broad judgement and knowledge. When others do not see them as they see themselves they start talking about 'lame managersG«÷ who are 'technically ignorant', who 'play politics' and 'just don't get it'.
---------------

And I've seen many instances were so-called
"senior" contributors have cost companies billions
of dollars because they didn't want to get
their hands dirty. I can remember a trip with
a so-called senior engineer who utterly refused
to look at the source-code that he was encouraging
the company to buy. He was so "smart" that he
could judge technology by reading powerpoint
slides. He prepared a whole report on the
technology of the company without ever bothering
to check what the company was claiming on slides
matched what they actually had. He just didn't
care.

Based in part on his evaluation of the technology,
it was purchased for an extraordinary sum of
money. When the company took delivery of the
intellectual property it had spent so much money
on, it found that what was claimed was a great
deal different than what they actually had.

Of course, at that time the so-called senior
person had washed his hands of the whole thing
and dropped the problem into the hands of the
lesser creatures who actually did product
development. They now had to explain to
management why it could not be delivered
as expected.

And on another occasion, I dealt with a senior
software architect whose ignorance of basic
hardware building blocks ended up wasting six
months of schedule time where engineers were
essentially constructing something that was
infesable according to his vision.

I've also seen all sorts of incompentent and
disinterested engineers hide behind claims
that their "experience" and "knowledge" somehow
makes up for their not understanding the product
that they are contributing to.

And they are basically lazy. They don't have
the time to learn the architecture and basics
of the system they are in charge of
because it would take away from the time they
spend on the phone talking to their friends.

They tend to hate anyone who actually understands
the system because they present a threat. They
only really thrive when they can control lines
of communication upward in the organization.
If they can't do that, what usually happens
is that they eventually get found out for what
they are and pushed off to the side. They
get "special" investigation projects where
they can't do any real harm. They are the people
who produce the mountains of worthless patents
that big companies build up. If they do monoplize
communication upward, what tends to happen is
that the organization collapses around them.
The good senior people leave. The junior
engineers figure out that they are considered
like "animals" on a farm, and the best start
to leave.

And when the organization is completely rotten
and collapsing, they usually get a job through
one of their friends somewhere new.

Of course organizations collapsing or projects
failing doesn't bother them in the least. They
have that broader view of things that says that
neither the project, engineers or the company
really matter anyway. They have a special sort
of don't-care attitude and detachment from the
whole thing.




dljvjbsl 12/4/2012 | 7:45:23 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? LightBeating writes:
{....]
I have encountered enough of the Nortel mid-manager type who hide their technical ignorance behind this "touchy-feely" crap.
[...}
And if the job IS technical, you do need to know if the candidate can answer at least basic questions.
[...]

I can recall something of this. We had two consultants who were supposedly helping a team come up to speed on a new technology. To assess the team they asked some questions about the area. One of my senior colleagues was going through the process. He answered the question of how to ensure that only one object can be instantiated from a class by saying that the singleton pattern should be used. He was marked as incorrect and told that a class variable should be used instead. - no kidding. He was told to keep his mouth shut since he didnG«÷t grasp the basics and let the consultants lead the project.

I have seen many instances in which so-called practical people claim that they have specific insight to technology that is denied to the ordinary mortal. They confuse their specific skills with broad judgement and knowledge. When others do not see them as they see themselves they start talking about 'lame managersG«÷ who are 'technically ignorant', who 'play politics' and 'just don't get it'.

I have seen most of them grow out of it. Some of them, like the consultants above, can't seem to do this. Experience has a great ability to teach people that others may know something and have something to contribute with skills and insights that one doesnG«÷t have. Sometimes though even experience canG«÷t succeed.


asmo 12/4/2012 | 7:45:23 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? >>Well we have moved the discussion to the point to which there seems to be a consensus that there is more to hiring someone than his ability to answer trivial questions in programming and memorized standards. That I guess is progress. Dual port memory indeed!
-------------------------------------------------

Asmo:Agreed, also it seems the expressed majority opinion is that the Nortel interview process is inadequate.

------------------------------------------------
>>The ability to work in a team, to be willing to update qualifications etc are all important factors in assessing people for membership in a team.
------------------------------------------------
Asmo:I do not think anyone is disagreeing with you on this, but 'ex-Nortelers' seem to think the process is focusing too much on 'soft-skills' and not on the technical capabilities of the candidates.

I don't know why you will not answer this point that has been stated many times by various people. Your last few replies have essentially stated 'there is more to interviewing than technical skills'. Yes we all agree. But you need to at least test some technical knowledge in an interview to determine if the candidate is technically capable.

I understand why you felt you needed to state your qualifications, but the validity of views in this discussion is not proven by who has the better-alleged qualifications.

Asmo
skeptic 12/4/2012 | 7:45:24 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? Well we have moved the discussion to the point to which there seems to be a consensus that there is more to hiring someone than his ability to answer trivial questions in programming and memorized standards.
------------

If there is a consensus, I think it also
comprehends the that the ability to
program is not "trivial" in a senior
technical contributor nor is the understanding
of the how the technology they will be working
with actually functions.



dljvjbsl 12/4/2012 | 7:45:25 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? In reply to allrounder:

Well we have moved the discussion to the point to which there seems to be a consensus that there is more to hiring someone than his ability to answer trivial questions in programming and memorized standards. That I guess is progress. Dual port memory indeed!

The ability to work in a team, to be willing to update qualifications etc are all important factors in assessing people for membership in a team. Sometimes these factors are desirable. Sometime they are not. For example, sometimes a job requires someone who values stability and consistency. He will be applying well-known technology and the manger wants someone who is willing to do this happily for years. The manager will not want the hot shot that wants a variety of jobs each of which will teach him new ideas. However a managerG«÷s job is to identify the requisite skill set for a team facing a project and to staff it appropriately. There is much more to building an effective organization than this.

Ignoring (not really) the personal invective, I am a senior designer who hires and supervises senior designers. I have over 40 patents either issued or in progress; I have lost count but have at least 50 papers published in peer reviewed international conferences and archival journals; I serve on the program committees for international conferences; I review papers for international conferences and archival journals; I serve on advisory committees for national research organizations; I am co-investigator on several national research projects that were funded through peer-reviewed competitions in two countries; my contributions are reflected in international standards etc. etc. etc.

My contribution to the companies that I have worked for have been recognized and for the success that I have achieved I have been given the freedom to do independent investigation. Reporting only to a senior manager I am free to investigate technology that will be of benefit to the company and to initiate research projects.

I short; my circuits work the first time every time and they are sold for a profit to paying customers. (That is different from many products these days) I am also certain that most if not all of the people reading this board have used them.

When people start pulling out their qualifications discuss technical and technological issues I don't have anything to be hesitant about.
LightBeating 12/4/2012 | 7:45:27 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? Allrounder,

I agree with you. I have encountered enough of the Nortel mid-manager type who hide their technical ignorance behind this "touchy-feely" crap. Asking questions like "do you have initiative?" at an interview is useless because the answer is obvious. (I have not had many job interviews in my life, but I have conducted quite a few myself). You can see if a person has initiative, likes to learn, can work in a team, by asking OTHER questions! Among those, technical questions are useful because someone with initiative, a desire to learn and the ability to work in a team will usually be capable of giving good answers. By good, I mean 'no bullshit' type of answer, not necessarily the 'right' answer. You can see how a person reacts when faced with a problem. And if the job IS technical, you do need to know if the candidate can answer at least basic questions.

LB
allrounder 12/4/2012 | 7:45:31 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? dljvjbsl,

I start wondering what kind of professional you are. No offence. You keep reminding me of some lame managers in Nortel. You keep repeating things known to everybody. If you happen to know a little data networking and RTOS, you should see the list of questions I give span Real-Time Operating system, Device drivers, Hardware architecture, IP networking, ATM networking, protocols and programming. Those are in-depth questions. I dare you to answer "how the dual-port RAM works" and "in what case you should use semaphore, in which case you should use intlock". If you know nothing about them, you can try on some senior engineers you consider qualified. I believe if a person can cross these fields, he must be a very good learner and very smart, especially if this person in his early 30s, like me.

Also, Let me teach you how to tell if a person willing to update his skills without asking some mindless shits, your favor question. Here is what Cisco did on this aspect. If you give a wrong answer to a question, they ask you the same question again in next round of interview (they always have two rounds on each candidate). If you can give the right answer the second time, you are considered "willing to leran" or "quick learner". If you still don't know the answer for the second time, you are finished no matter how good you are on other aspects.

Next time when you reply, don't just pick some specific words, put your argument in the context. That can avoid you being linked to some people I really dislike talking to.
asmo 12/4/2012 | 7:45:32 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? How can the interviewer find anything out 'easily enough' if the questions they are allowed to ask are so restrictive and 'touchy-feely'. I respect the points you are stating but the Nortel interview process is not adequate enough to determine the 'do-ers' from the 'talkers'.

From my experience (which is obviously not universal), I have seen the interview questions and I have seen the sort of people that score well in Nortel interviews. I'm sure many others have seen the result of the non-technical interview process. The process lets more dead-wood into the company. The talent pool gets diluted with people that spend most of their time working on their career or talking about what they are going to do instead of getting their head down and doing the work.

I've seen it too often and other people that have posted on this board have also seen it happen. I just wish senior management in Nortel would wake up and realise there are these types of problems in the company so they can be addressed.

Asmo
dljvjbsl 12/4/2012 | 7:45:33 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? allrounder writes:

They want every engineer can do all the way from architecture, HLD, design, coding, unit test and integration.

There is a lot more to engineering and even software engineering that the ability to spell C or even for advanced thinkers ++. There are different abilities, interests and skill levels. The task of a manager is to build a team that contains a suitable mixture of abilities, skills and interests that suit a particular problem. A team suited to incremental development would be highly unsuited to a problem in exploratory design. A team suited for user interface issues would not be interested or particularly suited in diagnostic design.

How about tackling problems with new technology? How does the interviewer know that the candidate is a person who is willing to update his skills? How does the candidate is a person who will share is skills with others? How can the interviewer know this if he does not ask these dreaded touchy feely questions?

The best way to find out is to ask the candidate about circumstances in his past when he has faced these issues.

The interviewer will find out easily enough if the candidate is eager to learn new technology or is primarily interested in perfecting his expertise in current skills.

The interviewer will find out easily enough if the candidate is a leader to whom other engineers turn for advice or prefers to concentrate on his own tasks.

The interviewer will find out easily enough if the candidate is someone who can consistently identify the real issues in a problem and not be extracted by extraneous detail or attempt to simply apply previous solutions
skeptic 12/4/2012 | 7:45:35 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? I interview and hire senior designers. I'm pretty astounded that anyone would consider the trechnical questions above to be appropriate for someone at that level. Imagine asking someone, who will be responsible for major parts of the design, questions on elementary C.
------------------

A senior designer who can't answer simple
programming questions is a "senior" designer
who has probably never written much software
in their life. And those who have not done
the real work of building a system don't
have the training to design a system.

Part of the job of being a senior engineer is
being able to both deal with product-level
people in the company AND deal directly with
junior technical people. Many so-called senior
people forget that these days. Its a balance.


If you hold junior technical people doing
real work in contempt or don't have a clue
how to talk to them about what they are doing,
you are USELESS as a senior engineer and
should tranfer into marketing.

Out of the cisco questions, (2)(4)(6-8)(10)
are totally appropriate for a senior engineer.
I don't consider (9) an appropriate programming
problem because its not very difficult and most
of those who get it are going to get it because
of memory rather than problem-solving skills.
(1) is strictly unix-centric trivia.

I've met senior engineers who can breeze their
way though interviews based on being "parrots".
They repeat what they have read or what they have
heard. But they don't really understand.

When these sorts of people get forced to design
something, in practice, they end up producing
a "copy" of something else. Anyone who brings
up new ideas is eventually excluded or driven
out. We can't find your idea in Cisco's
presentations, so its obviously of no value
or crazy. Or "we didn't do it that way in
our class-4 switch, so your idea is wrong".

Or worse, they have their own pet ideas that
the don't solve customer problems (CR-LDP at
nortel) and that the customers clearly don't
want.

And the other major reason senior people have
to have minimal coding skills is that the company
is often going to be looking to them to evaluate
third-party software. And its insanity to
have someone recommend a software vendor when
they don't even have the basic skills to
understand if the code they are getting the
company to buy works.

allrounder 12/4/2012 | 7:45:36 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? You think Cisco didn't check your capability to solve engineering issues? They did. They have your resume. Do you think those questions can kill 6 hours interview in total? They just want to make sure you are not the one that can just sell your damn mouth. They want every engineer can do all the way from architecture, HLD, design, coding, unit test and integration. There are no the stupid hirarchy in Cisco that Nortel put in place. You will find a bunch of so-called "band 7" or "architect" in Nortel can hardly even spell C, let alone ++.
asmo 12/4/2012 | 7:45:36 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? Agreed allrounder.

I've seen both sides of the fence Nortel and Cisco, Cisco do not suffer fools gladly. I'm not saying everyone in Cisco is a 'wonder kid', but if you do not meet the grade, it's good bye time.

Oh 'Band 7 Architects' now there is a good topic. In Nortel the Band 7 IC role was sorely abused. Now there were a few good Band 7 IC's ones that really contributed, but often it was a hide out for some ass-kissing non-technical engineers that happen to report to a manager when he got moved to Band 8.

Most Nortel band 7 'Architects' would not get through the Cisco interview process as they spent most of their years working on their 'How to win friends and influence people skills', rather than their 'software architecture skills'.

I know one of them that gets away with doing virtually nothing for months on end. He is an 'architect' of a command line interface, and he doesn't do anything, just fires off a few emails every week goes to a few meetings and defers any real work to his collegues.

Its shameful that this sort of person is still employeed in Nortel when many good people have been layed off. Then again his incompetent middle manager is too busy empire building abd working on his career to give a damn that one of his reports does nothing.

Asmo
asmo 12/4/2012 | 7:45:37 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? dljvjbsl,

I understand the point you are making regarding asking candidates questions that probe deeper into their abilities, but the interview process that I was witnessed to in Nortel was totally inadequate at keeping out 'dead-wood'.

You mention that asking questions about programming was trivial, yes it is trivial for someone who can program, but if you are employing a person for a s/w engineering job and they claim to have 3 years experience writing 'C', you would expect that you could ask the person to write a simple program just to verify their basic skills before being allowed to work for Nortel. Nope, that is not how it worked, H.R. gave directions on what questions may be asked and programming something was not one of them. As a result a lot of so-called experienced programmers were writing their first lines of G«ˇCG«÷ code on customer critical embedded systems. IG«÷ve seen this happen many times, no not a good idea and it all ended in tears.

NortelG«÷s interview process is totally non-technical, I agree there are other qualities that you want to test for in an interview apart from G«ˇCan you write C?G«÷,

i.e.
-Are they able to work in a team
-General communication skills
-Ability to think for themselves
-Enthusiasm to learn
-Judgement
-etcG«™.

There are obviously a lot more qualities and abilities that interviewers would test, this is only a small sample. Nortel interviews tend to favour someone who can G«ˇtalk the talkG«÷ but not G«ˇwalk the walkG«÷. IG«÷ve seen highly intelligent, modest people that would make excellent engineers getting lower interview scores than someone of no technical ability but can give text book answers to the well known touchy-feely Nortel interview questions. The result is that people that can talk it up are rewarded more in Nortel than the guys that can actually do it.

There are good people in Nortel, unfortunately the whole culture does not reward the G«ˇdoersG«÷, it tends to favour the G«ˇbull-shittersG«÷. IG«÷ve seen this happen too many times, IG«÷ve spoken to some middle management in Nortel that agree this happens, itG«÷s a cultural problem that needs to be solved before Nortel gets better.

I really hope Nortel does recover but without solving their cultural problem a once great company will become extinct.

Asmo
Belzebutt 12/4/2012 | 7:45:37 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? They wonder why others are promoted by them and blame it all on office politics....

He became the lab malcontent blaming his lack of influence on the political back stabbing of others. He didn't realize that his lack of influence was directly related to his inability to contribute at the senior level.


Touch+¨...

Nice to see a good rebuttal to all the NT-bashing. For the record, I do think that some of the questions allegedly asked at NT interviews had self-evident answers, but perhaps it's the way you answer them and your attitude that is actually looked at. I myself had some technical questions at my interview, and I recall other people having them too. It's not as black and white as the original poster would say. I would say it's equally important to look at someone's technical skills as it is to guage their ability to communicate and work with others. And people can still BS their ways through both areas.
dljvjbsl 12/4/2012 | 7:45:38 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved?
bilbo writes:
[with repect to laughable interviews]
Impossible to manage engineers if you don't know what they are building.

------------------------------------

It all depends I suppose on what is considered essential knowledge for engineers to be able to effectively build something.

One could, of course, ask trivial questions in programming or about trivia in standards. On the other hand one could ask questions about how they would tackle problems which have no definitive answers, how they will update their knowledege to address a project with new technology, whether they are open to ideas or will cling to the same old outdated ideas that tehy learned in school, whether they will share ideas, whether they really want a senior job or would like to remain a juntior programmer banging away at strightforward coding problems for the rest of their lives?

It is surpising how many people are really afraid of new ideas, the situations that require them and even the customers that will benefit from them.

It is surpising to talk to people who call themselves engineers who consider that they have updated themselves if they learn the syntax of a programming language. They wonder why others are promoted by them and blame it all on office politics. I recall one like that who when we were discussing security issues for a new family of products gave us all a lecture on the JAVA security model. He became very bitter when people started to leave him out of the loop. For some reason, he could not understand that we all knew about the JAVA security model and were trying not to learn that but to understand the customer affecting security issues that would be important to our product.

He became the lab malcontent blaming his lack of influence on the political back stabbing of others. He didn't realize that his lack of influence was directly related to his inability to contribute at the senior level.
bilbo 12/4/2012 | 7:45:39 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? I heard the same thing about laughable interviews. As though the interviewer had his management source book hidden under the table...how would your colleagues describe you, do you consider yourself an acheiver (really !)...the list goes on. You would think they were selling plastic bath toys that go *squeak* when you squeeze them. Impossible to manage engineers if you don't know what they are building.
dljvjbsl 12/4/2012 | 7:45:40 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? allrounder writes:


And I got a job as senior software designer.

Cisco Interview Questions:
1. Tell me what POSIX stands for. (Portable Open Standard Interface -
UNIX like)
2. What's the difference between semaphore and intlock? Which one is
better?
3. How do you avoid multiple access to a flash driver?
4. What are the three most important field in IP header?
5. What TOL is used for?
6. How an IP packet is routed?
7. How the dual-port ram works?
8. What is ATM PVC and SVC?
9. Write a C program on whiteboard to calculate the checksum of the IP
header.
10. Write a C program to flip a 32-bit integer.
and more.

I got hired by Cisco at the same posiiton.

-----------------------------------

I interview and hire senior designers. I'm pretty astounded that anyone would consider the trechnical questions above to be appropriate for someone at that level. Imagine asking someone, who will be responsible for major parts of the design, questions on elementary C.

I expect much more from senior personnel than the ability to answer trivial programming questions or to have memorised portions of a standard. I really expect them to be able to tackle real design issues that will be customer affecting. This takes a lot more knowledge and skill than the ability to flip a 32 bit integer (programming 101 level skills). It takes engineering judgement of the sort that is being looked for in the Nortel interview.
LightCycle 12/4/2012 | 7:45:43 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? > Of course China deploys its voice systems
> in a non-redundant way.

Right, sure. As non redundant on the last mile as any Class 5 solution is.

If you're alluding to trunks, then you'd better wake up from your dream, they're as redudant (and more flexible) then a typical Class 4 solution.

> You are lucky in many parts of China to have
> a phone.

And there are more mobile phones in China then there are in America. So, your point being?

>> the world. For instance: Asia -- a lot of
>> Chinese telecoms (and SE Asian
>> telecoms) are finding it less-expensive (by
>> at least 50 percent) to implement voice
>> over IP on their

And Nortel had the opportunity to lead this space! But three years ago a certain DUMB-ASS VP in North America running the Packet Voice business said ... "China? Asia? I don't care".

Why? Because...

> and class 5 switches. In North America, the
> telcos have a huge investment in that sort of
> big iron (written off over 17 years, isn't it?).

And the DUMB-ASS VP couldn't see beyond his nose.
dietaryfiber 12/4/2012 | 7:45:47 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? Of course China deploys its voice systems in a non-redundant way.

You are lucky in many parts of China to have a phone.

dietary fiber
77thlightguy 12/4/2012 | 7:45:47 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? Why don't you ask him what he got from >$50 million of your money he spent on finance systems in past 24 mths. Systems so bad they don't talk to each other, cannot forecast with any accuracy (why do you think Roth missed the Q1/01 call so badly when rest of his execs could see plummeting sales?). A CFO whose own forecasting was so bad that he complained in Q4/00 he did not have enough finance people to service a $40 billion company in 2001 (be lucky if he gets to $20B). Systems so bad his people use Excel spreadsheets to run the business. A very demoralized finance team. Just see what he does to the rest of the people.

Typical inside job.

Roth too stooooooooopid to see it coming.

BOD too stooooooooopid to realize what happened.

L(h)osers, eh!

-77

PS: Those still there, cover your backs with Kevlar...you're gonna get it with a knife or something worse...what starts at the top flows down.
MajorKong 12/4/2012 | 7:45:50 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? >I am completely befuddled by this one.

Refers to the punch line of JM's lame-o eskimo
story he gave Billerica when he shuttered all the
development. Might have be closer to "jak-nott"
phonetically.

The story would have been better if the eskimo's family read about his demise in the Wall Street Journal....

POE
beowulf888 12/4/2012 | 7:45:51 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? Well, JC is from West Viginia -- which seceeded from Virginia to fight on the side of the North during the Civil War. But linguisticly, yes, West Virginbut are more "southern". Culturally? Well a sort of southern/midwestern cross, I'd say.

cheers,
--Beo
gardner 12/4/2012 | 7:45:52 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? Cute. But unfortunately it has a flaw that makes it an obvious fake. Only a Canadian could have penned those words. No American or even anyone who had spent any time in the States would ever say what Chambers said below:

Chambers: You are kidding me! I was born and raised in Virginia. I am a northerner. Though years of life in San Jose may make me a littler
valnurable to canadian flu, I will do fine.


Virginians are the quintessential Southerners. Virginia contains the city (Richmond) that was the capital of the confederacy for crying out loud. Robert E. Lee is spinning in his grave and screaming from the deepest reaches of hell (can you tell I'm from New England even though I live in TX?) "John Chambers we are NOT Northerners!!!!" ;-)

Bring on our next Canadian contestant please. ;-)Our quiz category this time is "Who's more Yankee?".
Yabba 12/4/2012 | 7:45:53 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? Allrounder wrote:

Step 1. Root out the current management and dismiss all engineering team and marketing team.
>> Part of the problem is that they have already gotten rid of just about anyone that understands telephony. Did you see the faces at the NT booth at Supercomm ? How many were over 30, or knew what DMS was ?


Step 2. Pick a Cisco VP as CEO. Given Kennedy and Listwin are both happy with Openwave, Mike Volpi or Carl Russo seems good.
>> Cisco still doesn't understand telephony. The ILECs are the only ones with money, and they are used to dealing with NT, LU and Siemens. The next-gen guys are finding out how hard it is do switching. Softswitch is hype - anyone remember AIN ?

Step 3. Hire the whole company from scratch.
>> They are already working on that, getting rid of anyone over 40.

Step 4. Stay away from competing with Cisco
>> It was interesting when the mantra internal to NT switched from "kill AT&T" to "kill Cisco". Roth was scared of Cisco, and focused too much on them.
beowulf888 12/4/2012 | 7:45:55 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? dietary fiber writes:
>So, outside of Cerent...where is the Service >Provider business? All I am saying is that Cisco >has failed at cracking this business. Where will >the growth of Cisco come from.

Fibe: sounds like your definition of "Service Provider business" means SONET ADMs and Class 5 and Class 4 swithes? If so, then CSCO has a larger definition of what constitutes the Service Provider business. For instance: data -- specifically layer 3 services like TCP/IP. Most (all?) of the big carriers now carry more TCP/IP traffic than voice traffic. Selling big honking core routers is still CSCO's bread and butter.

Also it's important to remember that what's happening in North America doesn't necessarily reflect what's happening in the rest of the world. For instance: Asia -- a lot of Chinese telecoms (and SE Asian telecoms) are finding it less-expensive (by at least 50 percent) to implement voice over IP on their backbones than to buy expensive class 4 and class 5 switches. In North America, the telcos have a huge investment in that sort of big iron (written off over 17 years, isn't it?). So VoIP hasn't really made a dent in the US/Canadian market. But in developing countries -- with limited budgets -- VoIP is the wave of the future. In ten years, I predict it will dwarf the traditional (C4/C5) US SP market.

cheers,
--Beo
allrounder 12/4/2012 | 7:45:56 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? This call was made by John Chambers to John Roth a couple of days ago when Chambers visited Toronto. It was very heart-warming.

Chambers: Hi John. This is John Chambers in Toronto. How are you doing recently?

Roth: Hi John, very nice to receive your call. I am doing just fine. As good as it used to be. What about yourself?

Chambers: I am doing OK. Just living a typical CEO life. Travels, meetings, and so on.

Roth: Let me guess. You are offering something.

Chambers: Not too fast. I just want to say "Hi Buddy, I win, you lose".

Roth (laughter): I will have to admit it. But the game is not entirely over though. I got a new guy called Frank Dunn to carry on. He is a financial guy, probably a good match for you.

Chambers: You are kidding. Financial guys can only count numbers. They can never be put in Executive role. I got Larry carter, a very good financial guy. But I will not give him my post when I retire.

Roth: Seriouly. Now that you called. I would try to measure the possibility of your interest in acquiring Nortel. Not for myself, but for 45,000 lives still hanging there.

Chambers: I appreciate you asking, John. But if I give opportunities to your 45,000 people, I will put 38,000 lives in Cisco at risk. To be honest, your people are so lame. They will ruin our people. Business is business. I would loan you money than acquiring your people. Sorry to say that, John.

Roth: You are right. I know how my people are. Some of them are good, but some are really lame. I keep all these lame people because I don't want them to ruin other companies. (Laughter). Specially, some mid-level management, namely VPs, directors and senior managers. Their inability has brought a group of lame first line managers and engineeers.

Chambers: Wouldn't it be better if you got rid of them a lot earlier?

Roth: John, although I respect you in all aspects, but you are really naive in politics. This is a bureaucratic monster I am steering. A lot of incapable people have been with this company for more than 20 years, same age as me. And even more worse, they all at senior positions and got a whole bunch of same type of people under them. Can I fire 50% of the company? The answer is definitely NO. I have to live with them.

Chambers: I understand. If you really want to save some guys, I can offer to buy your wireless operation. This is a market I have attempted to enter but failed so far. It is a market dominated by you and your old buddies like motorola and ericsson. Really hard to break in.

Roth: I can't do that John. Wireless is our life supply right now and will be in the years to come. Although people in wireless division are just as lame as in other divisions. The products are sort of good. But thanks for the offer, anyway.

Chambers: Let's step away from the business a little bit. Despite the failure of Nortel, your personal fortune is not impacted. If my memory is in order, you sold a large bulk of options at 100 or so.

Roth: Yes. That's the only warm memory I am having now. I hope I have enough for my retired life.

Chambers: Speaking of retire life, I will probably join you in 5 years, 10 years max. We can have a get-together then and play some card games on the beach of Mexico.

Roth: I bet I will win the card game.

Chambers: You got it. Don't feel bad even now, there always ups and downs in life.

Roth: One of the another thing have made me feel guilty all along. I did some personal attack on you once or two. Compared Cisco to Wang. I just want you know that I didn't really want to hurt you personally.

Chambers: Don't worry, buddy. We all know that's part of the game. When you in CEO position, you do whatever it takes to win.

Roth: John, I always have a feeling, if we were not working for rival companies, we would have been very good friends.

Chambers: You are wrong, John. We have always been friends. What do you think friends are? Friends are not somebody you need to talk when you in trouble. Friends are not somebody who always give you help. Friends are people who really understand you in-depth, who can feel your pain and joy, who are equivalent in capability. In this sense, rivals are usually best friends in soul.

Roth: Thanks, John. Having talked retirement, we have very good maple syrup and wines in Canada. Be my guest anytime. We can also yell, shout, talk dirty on Raptor's foor, or Skydome, or maple leaf stadium. As long as you are Ok with the weather here.

Chambers: You are kidding me! I was born and raised in Virginia. I am a northerner. Though years of life in San Jose may make me a littler valnurable to canadian flu, I will do fine.

Roth: It has been a very nice conversation for a long time, John.

Chambers: Keep in touch, have a wonderful retire life.

Roth: Thanks, you take care.

Chambers: You too. Bye.
mrcasual 12/4/2012 | 7:45:57 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? > Ajak anaq?

I am completely befuddled by this one.
dietaryfiber 12/4/2012 | 7:45:58 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? I concur with the statements about the failure of Lucent and Nortel. My point was about Cisco.

They have been tossed out of Ameritech for DSLAMs. There is a DSLAM RFP coming to replace such at Qwest.

So, outside of Cerent...where is the Service Provider business? All I am saying is that Cisco has failed at cracking this business. Where will the growth of Cisco come from.

dietary fiber
fishnchips 12/4/2012 | 7:45:59 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved?
Ajak anaq?
mumbogumbo 12/4/2012 | 7:45:59 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? Market share is a good measuring stick, but the ultimate measurement of a companies success is looking at the gazinta and gazoutas.

NT will report a $3.7BUSD loss this quarter. Even with the gazintas for all those wins reported on LR, the gazoutas are $3.7BUSD greater. And that's just not good business.

What's CSCO's and LU's gazinta vs. gazouta picture? That's a better question than market share. Espescially in this economy.

/mumbog.
allrounder 12/4/2012 | 7:46:00 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? Technology is just a way of making money. In the end of the day, it all comes down to financial. That's how capitalism works. Cisco's smartness is in its ability to keep financially sound. Nortel may happen to have some so-called "carrier-class", "RAS" iron boxes, they are really so stupid in Financial. That's why Chambers, a tech agnostic, can fatally beat Roth, a 20-year tech engineer.
dietaryfiber 12/4/2012 | 7:46:02 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? There were a bunch of comments about how poorly Nortel was managed and how brilliant Cisco was.

So, where has that been shown in the service provider business...in the true telecom stuff. Oh yeah, Cerent. Which carriers still call Cerent to make it distinct from Cisco (who they basically hate).

I am not saying Nortel is smart here. Both companies have a huge market presense and are not likely to go away soon. Nortel completely bungled its exit of the Access Business and upset many customers.

But what I am saying, is think about the brilliance of Cisco in Fibex, Dagaz, Netspeed, ya da ya da ya da.

dietary fiber
LightCycle 12/4/2012 | 7:46:06 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? > BS. Search LR for Nortel and read the long list
> of NT wins, THEN SHOW ME THE SAME FOR CSCO,
> ONIS, CIEN, JNPR,

Hang on there buddy. Since you drew first blood, lets examine each of these one-by-one shall we?

> http://www.lightreading.com/do...

This is obviously about the Architel software which I have to admit was a relative good acquition. But its hardly anything inherent with Nortel.

> http://www.lightreading.com/do...

Hold your horses. This is a repeat order. We all know how nervous SBC is about changing vendors! This isn't as big a deal as the PR makes it out to be.


> http://www.lightreading.com/do...

Right, and do you see any $$$ numbers? NO? Oh, surprise surprise.


> http://www.lightreading.com/do...

Okay, this is genuine, BUT paltry in comparison to what Extreme and Foundry have won in similar applications across China. And they aren't even Carrier grade!

> http://www.lightreading.com/do...

And do you know who's providing the financing? Guess whoooo... (ie. you actually believe NT will come out positive on this do you?)

>

...

Actually, I could go on for each and every URL you posted my friend.

My advise, don't carried away by your own Press Releases, they're mostly BS.

Some of the other vendors you listed CHOOSE not to put out BS press-releases. Don't assume just because there aren't any PRs they aren't winning anything.
objectivity 12/4/2012 | 7:46:06 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? Not taking sides on Cisco vs Nortel, but this one bears reading. From Barron's. Does anyone know if Nortel does extensive buybacks?

October 1, 2001

Plugged In
Creative Destruction?
By MARK VEVERKA

If the outlook for technology companies before September 11 was particularly glum, the view is now decidedly worse. One of the persistent problems that was plaguing tech concerns even before the terrorist attack is the so-called overhang of excess inventory. Secondary markets are still awash with new, or nearly new gear, which has been dumped on the market by failed dot.coms and bankrupt telephone carriers.

Nearly every maker of hardware is experiencing the dual pain of lackluster demand exacerbated by dramatic price-slashing in the gray market. Among the hardest hit by this tidal wave of second-hand gear that is being unloaded by bankrupt or financially troubled customers is Cisco Systems. Indeed, some of the gear, still in its original packaging, changes hands at prices that are as little as half of what Cisco would charge for new equipment.

You can even buy the stuff on eBay. On Thursday, there more than 2,300 auctions were listed selling Cisco gear. That's 13 times the number for Nortel Networks' Bay Networks and nearly eight times the number of auctions for equipment from 3Com and Lucent Technologies' Ascend.

"That's material," quips analyst Susan Kalla, of Friedman Billings Ramsey. "The difference between Cisco and Nortel should be more like four times."

Corporate information technology decision-makers were drastically cutting back on their technology purchases prior to the terrorist attacks, and there are indications that the tragic events have cast such a pall over the economy that those few executives who were poised to spend are now putting away their wallets, too.

A bigger problem for Cisco is the collapse of the competitive local-exchange carriers. The CLECs, as they're known, were huge customers before the equity markets turned on them, making it impossible to raise new cash to build out their networks. So, many of these start-ups turned to their vendors for financing or leased gear from third parties, or from the vendors themselves. Cisco, which was particularly aggressive in offering financing, has since reclaimed much of the gear that was sold to the now-bankrupt carriers.

A lot of analysts now say that tech companies such as Cisco can't even begin to turn the corner until the gray market inventory is burned off. And based on that assumption, it isn't surprising to hear that Cisco may be attempting to expedite that process by destroying perfectly good second-hand gear and components.

"Cisco is taking back a lot of its own equipment. Tons and tons," says John Lynch, a principal of Asset Recovery Center, an Eatontown, New Jersey-based firm that buys and remarkets gear from bankruptcy liquidations. "And they are just crushing it."

Lynch contends that Cisco has hired Houston-based Waste Management to destroy certain critical parts, known as supervisor cards, that are integral to Cisco routers. Without the cards, routers are basically useless, he says. "They are the brains of the machines," Lynch says.

A Cisco spokesman who is an executive in the finance department denies that his company has hired Waste Management to dispose of gear. A Waste Management spokeswoman told Barron's that her company has asset recovery facilities in Arizona where electronics are recycled. She said that Waste Management handles asset recovery work, through a third party, for Cisco but declined to elaborate further.

Why would Cisco destroy perfectly good equipment? The answer may lie, quite literally, in the margins. If Cisco's networking gear becomes an asset in bankruptcy proceedings, the company will get back just cents on the dollar for its claims. Plus, it will have to compete with the gray market in its own equipment for sales. But if Cisco yanks its high-margin equipment back and destroys it, the company eliminates a gray-market competitor, thus allowing it to earn far more on the sale of new equipment than it would make on proceeds of a bankruptcy settlement.

While Cisco's spokesman acknowledges that the company does destroy some of its own equipment, he insists the practice only takes place in rare cases, such as when leased gear is returned after the expiration of a lease term.

"We've destroyed an infinitesimal amount of equipment coming back on leasing [contracts], and only gear that was unsellable," the spokesman says. He adds that the company is "not destroying supervisor cards."

The other circumstance in which Cisco shreds gear, says the spokesman, involves its service and repair operations. Often, when a customer has trouble with a particular piece of equipment, Cisco offers a replacement. If the broken piece of gear is beyond repair, then Cisco takes it out of commission by turning it to scrap.

"The equipment being destroyed is related to our service business. It is equipment that has been sent back and can't be salvaged," he says. "We are not destroying good equipment. It would be a disadvantage for us to destroy good equipment," the spokesman argues.

What's more, the spokesman says that Cisco is not reclaiming as much equipment as some -- such as Lynch -- claim. "Our leases are a tiny blip," he says.

Asset Recovery's Lynch says he isn't surprised by Cisco's denials. He and his partner Mark Magee make a handsome living buying Cisco's and other brands of networking equipment from bankruptcy courts and reselling it at auction. By buying new software licenses and getting Cisco to recertify the second-hand equipment, Lynch says he is able to sell fully warranted products at prices that are often half of what Cisco would charge new.

Nor is there any dearth of fresh inventory. "I've got truckloads of Cisco gear coming," says Lynch.

The netherworld of asset recovery isn't a tidy business. Lynch says Cisco's service reps sometimes drag their feet when he wants the company to recertify gear. In one case, when he was selling gray-market gear to a major Cisco customer, Lynch says he had to use the customer to pressure Cisco to recertify the gear. "Cisco risked the loss of a major customer that has bought hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of gear. [The customer] is under budget constraints, too, and let Cisco know about it," Lynch says.

Cisco wouldn't comment on the assertion.


umustbejokin 12/4/2012 | 7:46:08 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? Lopez; good points...

The personnel choices that are being made are certainly very diffcult ones at this point, but if the carriers continue to cut spending as they are doing; there is just not as much of a need for people to support the effort. NT cannot keep these folks around and bleed $, they must reach break even.

If the carrier clients want DMS features and support, access devices and all the other things being discussed here, they have to vote with their $$$. Additionally some carriers are shifting the focus to IP services and you are seeing some shifting of IP savvy talent to "carrier" groups.

Right now the bottom line is.....the bottom line. When things pick up so will the staffing levels, but for now everything is being paid for by the groups that are making money, product groups that is. Gone are the days of big groups of idle people sitting around waiting for the RBOC they serviced to buy another switch. It's all going regional now and headcount is paid for by product groups.

Sound lean & mean enough for ya?

Re: csco buyout, I agree; but I think the analysts wanted it for csco's sake, and floated it as a trial balloon. CSCO's "very public failure" (as it was reported) to win carrier markets over was NT's win.
Lopez 12/4/2012 | 7:46:09 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? The next year will prove me right. NT is most well positioned to capture market share going forward and survive. That is why NT is closing

The downturn will tend to favour larger companies like NT, and when the economy recovers the competitive landscape will be much different. But, right now, the question on everyone's mind is, what will be left of NT when that time comes? There is no doubt that they went into this fat and bloated, but will they come out lean and mean, or malnourished and dying?

the deals as I showed and even csco wanted to buy NT. That alone was proof enough, but sadly for csco a laughable proposition to anyone who understands "the realities".

This rumor made so little sense that it must have come from an analyst. Not going to happen, never was, bad for both companies, etc, etc.
stryke_d 12/4/2012 | 7:46:09 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? well I don't have much money riding on them (us) but I am here for the long haul. Morale is low, I have seen some great people, great talent and great friends. Perhaps I am stubborn or lazy but I am still here. My major concern is that they didn't learn anything from the pain.
umustbejokin 12/4/2012 | 7:46:10 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? I just showed you the realities, and they came from LR. No propaganda, just the facts, dude.

You would be wise to realize LR does not print the unvarnished truth, and many that post here either have an agenda or an axe to grind.

The next year will prove me right. NT is most well positioned to capture market share going forward and survive. That is why NT is closing the deals as I showed and even csco wanted to buy NT. That alone was proof enough, but sadly for csco a laughable proposition to anyone who understands "the realities".
testdude 12/4/2012 | 7:46:11 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? No, U Must Be Smokin, Not Jokin...

Hey pal if you don't want to read LR don't. Nobody's forcing you.

Go and read NORTEL WORLD or Telesis, some NORTEL propoganda to satisfy your fix.

Otherwise, go away, the remaining 99% of us are interested in discussing the realities...
russ4br 12/4/2012 | 7:46:11 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? Nortel has some bright people, but from 1998 - 2000 they hired pretty much anyone with a pulse. Unfortunately for them, these bright people were leaving in droves. Even if Nortel cuts their workforce back to 95 levels, this dilution of talent has left them a weaker company

When did this kind of shallow interviews begin at Nortel? Was it always this way since the early days or did it change late 90s? Do you guys think that this practice came from the Executive Board or from HR "do-gooders" that wanted to foster a kinder-gentler working environment?
umustbejokin 12/4/2012 | 7:46:12 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? This story is complete BS, another blatant example of LR's venture cap owner's agenda. While optical startups (owned by same VCs) are going down the tubes, they would ask us to believe the same for NT. What a crock!

While it may be true that NT made some aquisitions that now appear less than wise in todays economic climate, that was then & this is now; and to profess 100% hindsight is just more pathetic BS. Search LR for Nortel and read the long list of NT wins, THEN SHOW ME THE SAME FOR CSCO, ONIS, CIEN, JNPR, ad nauseum. You fools...NT will eat your lunch! (breakfast, and dinner too!!!). Sell your NT to me!


htt://www.lightreading.com/doc...

htt://www.lightreading.com/doc...

htt://www.lightreading.com/doc...

htt://www.lightreading.com/doc...

htt://www.lightreading.com/doc...

htt://www.lightreading.com/doc...

htt://www.lightreading.com/doc...

htt://www.lightreading.com/doc...

htt://www.lightreading.com/doc...

htt://www.lightreading.com/doc...

htt://www.lightreading.com/doc...

htt://www.lightreading.com/doc...

htt://www.lightreading.com/doc...

htt://www.lightreading.com/doc...

htt://www.lightreading.com/doc...

htt://www.lightreading.com/doc...
Lopez 12/4/2012 | 7:46:12 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? I am 100% behind the notion NT has the easiest interview in the hi-tech world.

I worked for both Nortel and Cisco. The interview with NT was so easy-going and useless. I don't think my skills were fully recognized. That made me feel bad because everybody was offered on years of experience no matter what an idiot you were. In Contrary, the interview with Cisco was very different. They asked me to code programs on the whiteboard and asked very detailed tech questions. I list questions asked by Nortel and Cisco below. You tell the difference.


My experience was very similar. NT's interview process was to basically ask a few general questions about you, and then just start talking about the job. It always seemed more like they were trying to convince you to work for them vs you trying to convince them that they need you.

Cisco on the other hand grilled me for 5 - 6 hours. Code this, code that, make it faster, more efficient, what is this, what is that, what is wrong with this code, what does this code do? After the interview I actually asked some people at Nortel some of these questions, and got blank stares.

Nortel has some bright people, but from 1998 - 2000 they hired pretty much anyone with a pulse. Unfortunately for them, these bright people were leaving in droves. Even if Nortel cuts their workforce back to 95 levels, this dilution of talent has left them a weaker company.
detailsdetails 12/4/2012 | 7:46:14 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? Jules was officially known as Chief Engineer after returning from his bike ride across Canada, not France.


allrounder 12/4/2012 | 7:46:15 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? Step 1. Root out the current management and dismiss all engineering team and marketing team.

Step 2. Pick a Cisco VP as CEO. Given Kennedy and Listwin are both happy with Openwave, Mike Volpi or Carl Russo seems good.

Step 3. Hire the whole company from scratch.

Step 4. Stay away from competing with Cisco
beowulf888 12/4/2012 | 7:46:17 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? HarveyMudd wrote:
>Unlike Cisco, Nortel has enough R&D resources to >develop products.

Harv, Cisco gets a lot of bad press for "not having any R&D". But, on the contrary, we have quite a substantial amount of people, resources, time and effort invested in R&D. Sure we buy a lot of startups, but what do you think happens after a company gets bought? Well, the people just go on working and developing new products for Cisco -- with little interference from Cisco mgmt. Before the recent slump in the economy, the employee retention rate from startups was better than 95 percent. I don't know what it is now, but I suspect most people aren't leaving -- at least voluntarily.

But just being able to do R&D doesn't mean squat if you can't market and sell what you develop. So, even if Cisco doesn't have the R&D of a NT or LU, we've still been very successful marketing what we've got. That's one of the reason's that Cisco will survive this downturn.

Finally, I think that the Cisco management is very practical -- put resources toward what works (i.e. increases sales), and take resources away from what doesn't work (i.e. what doesn't increase sales). In this way I think we're lightyears ahead of many companies, despite our warts ;-). My first day of work at Cisco, my manager sat me down and told me the unofficial company motto: "Cisco -- we're just less f**ked up than the competition". How true.

MajorKong 12/4/2012 | 7:46:20 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? ....hmmmmm dead on mrcasual!!

CTO as the name implies, Chief Technology Officer, I am still struggling with the correlation between Jules skillset and the term technology!

Oh well there are more important things now...like contemplating my navel lint! ;-)
mrcasual 12/4/2012 | 7:46:21 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? .....I am curious, why do you say it was sad when Jules Meunier left? His
sole responsibility was to move to Billerica and kill any development
project in sight!


Ahh, Jules Meunier.

Jules' career path over the last year as I remember it:

President Core networks
Bicycle tour of France
CTO of Nortel
President of Wireless
Out

The bike tour and CTO may have been reversed.

Typical of Nortel. No comments from me on Mr. Meunier or his abilities.
russ4br 12/4/2012 | 7:46:21 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? I see that some Nortel die-hards still try to believe in a miracle. I admire you, guys - "fight to the last" is your motto.

The Nortel army is retreating, somewhat in disarray, fighting in an ever shrinking front. The casualties are higher than 50%. However, the generals at High Command doesn't seem to care much about their "people". They keep on dreaming new "innovative" strategies that could turn the tide - and if all else fails, they have their emergency golden parachutes ready!



allrounder 12/4/2012 | 7:46:24 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? I am 100% behind the notion NT has the easiest interview in the hi-tech world.

I worked for both Nortel and Cisco. The interview with NT was so easy-going and useless. I don't think my skills were fully recognized. That made me feel bad because everybody was offered on years of experience no matter what an idiot you were. In Contrary, the interview with Cisco was very different. They asked me to code programs on the whiteboard and asked very detailed tech questions. I list questions asked by Nortel and Cisco below. You tell the difference.

NT Interview Questions:
1. Introduce yourself. (of course full of best words I can get).
2. What is your interest? (of course the job I am applying).
3. Have you worked in a team and how do you like it? (of course yes and love to work with others).
4. What is the most difficult technical problem you encountered and how did solve it? (grab one in my mind and stress hardworking, teamwork and personal intellegience).
5. Do you have questions for us? (Yes. What is Nortel's standing in Fortune 500 list?)

And I got a job as senior software designer.

Cisco Interview Questions:
1. Tell me what POSIX stands for. (Portable Open Standard Interface - UNIX like)
2. What's the difference between semaphore and intlock? Which one is better?
3. How do you avoid multiple access to a flash driver?
4. What are the three most important field in IP header?
5. What TOL is used for?
6. How an IP packet is routed?
7. How the dual-port ram works?
8. What is ATM PVC and SVC?
9. Write a C program on whiteboard to calculate the checksum of the IP header.
10. Write a C program to flip a 32-bit integer.
and more.

I got hired by Cisco at the same posiiton.

MajorKong 12/4/2012 | 7:46:24 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? .....I am curious, why do you say it was sad when Jules Meunier left? His sole responsibility was to move to Billerica and kill any development project in sight!

He had no value and/or backbone! After axing two major programs in Billerica, what does he do? Stand in and work with the team to provide new direction?........no he takes the spineless "low road" and leaves on a 3 month bike peddling trip and leaves Marco Pagnani to clean up the rubble!

My guess is that he had his hands in the decision to axe the OPC program also! (not that that was a bad decision, just late in execution!)

Bottom line......Jules couldn't execute on grooming the IP expertise at Nortel. Maybe he did something for the Wireless guys...don't know!

Over and out!

Affectionately,
Major Kong
BlueWater66 12/4/2012 | 7:46:25 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? I remember when Northern Telecom, AT&T and Alcatel controlled almost all the telecom equipment market. I also remember when Sperry, Amdahl and all the other mainframe computer companies totally controlled their market. I think there is a lot of common features. Many of the people laid-off from both Lucent and Nortel have never worked anywhere else. Most of their products are large, expensive and have any mainframe type features.

The world is changing fast!
broadbandboy 12/4/2012 | 7:46:26 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? "Most of the Nortel's current economic problems stem from the enormous expenses it incurred in acquiring useless companies. Billions of dollars were lost without giving any advantage to Nortel."

What about Shasta? Are they still market leader? I hear about big contracts in Australia and Korea. NT only paid about $2-300 million, so did that one pay for itself?

I'm not a Nortel guy, so I don't have the real scoop. Maybe one of you inside guys can help me out...
asmo 12/4/2012 | 7:46:26 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? Opticalwatcher,

I agreed with most of what you said apart from that Cisco has no R&D. Although they aquire companies there is substantive R&D. I think people often under-estimate the amount of internal development that goes on inside Cisco, both on current and next-gen stuff.

I use to work for Nortel and now Cisco so I have some knowledge about both companies.

Apart from that point your post was spot on.

Asmo.

77thlightguy 12/4/2012 | 7:46:28 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? If they can get him: Neutron Jack. At this point in his career, and given the mess, and low probability of success, it would be a very long shot...it would be a massive exercise of his 1,2 or fix, sell, or dispose rule.
seabizkit 12/4/2012 | 7:46:30 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? Qtera and Xros, watersheds in suckerhood, Diner, Resnick, Tabaska, bloated ticks on the carcass Nortel.
opticalwatcher 12/4/2012 | 7:46:32 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? Well, this is just my two cents, but here it goes.
Cisco vs Lu vs Nortel
Products? yes, much the same, some different. No arguments there. They compete generally in the same space, for the same clients.
Business model? Whoa, hold the horses. Way different. Why? Well, speaking in very general terms Cisco is a lean machine. No R&D, and no hassles. For all intense purposes they behave much like a dell business model. No baggage, no junk when things dont work out. Without R&D you eliminate much of the aquisitions that lu and nortel are now choking on.
R&D? Well, R&D is what makes the world go around (ok, money to). Without someone doing the R&D Cisco wouldnt have a product to sell. But lu and nortel have created business monsters built on "empire building" mental psycho's. How about this for an example: whole groups dedicated only to one supervisor testing something merely at the direction of said supervisor, with no coherency with the overall goals of the project, only the put the results of this testing into a file cabinet. To anyone reading this message who has worked at Lu or Nortel, sound familiar?

Lu and Nortel are choking on the junk they bought, on the business model they have embraced, and on the poor management that is bailing out left and right as I write this (all with golden parachuts of course)who were to busy building departments within departments rather than products that worked and were sellable. Will they survive? probably not, at least, not the way we have grown to know and hate (whoops, I mean love) them. If they survive this downturn, they will be much different companies.

I would like to wish all my fellow workers in these once great (even if it was all smoke and mirrors) companies luck in surviving, finding new companies to believe in, and taking care of your loved ones in the process. In my mind, Mcginn and Roth are no different than common crooks.
mrcasual 12/4/2012 | 7:46:32 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? I can't speak for LU or CISCO, but Nortel is (was?) definitely over managed.

In my various job functions, both management and non-management, at Nortel it was always funny to look up the org chart and ask the question "Is this person adding value or helping me do my job?"

The answer changed from yes to know very low on the totem pole.

There has been lots of analysis about who or what have been the cause of Nortel's problems. In the final analysis, the blame has to rest squarely on the shoulders of the executive management.

It's their job to set direction and make delivery happen. This encompasses every aspect of the job, from making sure people have desks to having the right management structure and people.

Nortel certainly had (and still has) their share of "bad" workers, but even with the best set of people in the world working on a project, without good leadership above them it is pretty much doomed to failure.
jpm5150 12/4/2012 | 7:46:33 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? HarveyMudd:
You say that Nortel is a great company? Holy cow that is extremely naive. Ask any of the 45,000 people who have or will loose their job from this. Moreover, the priceless duress and stress they have caused to families and individuals. These are all good people with great skills that have had their lives torn apart by a naive and unmanageable company. The folks who are left have no motivation and only stay there because nobody else is hiring.
So how is this different from Cisco or Lucent? Cisco said yesterday "they are doing ok" and Lucent is on track to break even in 1Q. So ask yourself again if Nortel is a great company and will survive? The answer is: "You are the weakest link!" Good Bye!
Metadata123 12/4/2012 | 7:46:33 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? Alteon is just one of the countless junk companies that Nortel acquired. It was such a sham that many of the originals from Alteon hung on in there (with Nortel) since they could not find anything else in the Valley. These include Dominic Orr, Selena Lo, and Bart Burstein. Of these, the first two has been forced out while Bart hangs on by the thinnest of threads. From the Nortel side, the acquisition was presided on by the Finance side of the house headed by George Cooney, who may have been singularly responsible for the scope of the shameful write-offs that Nortel had to do lately. Why he still has a job continues to amaze most people at Nortel. Also, he was only one removed from Frank Dunn (the present CEO) when he did that. CooneyG«÷s entire team of clowns has been a standing joke in the company. And it is pretty apparent that Frank Dunn signed off on the Alteon deal. As for others who may have been involved, most of the blame should be laid at the feet of the Anil Khatod organization, which has since been dismembered and destroyed. It is the fervent hope (of every Nortel well wisher) that remnants of his organization who have found homes in Wireless and Optical be smoked out and expelled (like Bush plans to do to bin Laden).

It is sad to hear that people like Jules Meunier has left the company. One hopes that Frank Plastina, the boy genius, can eliminate more of the rot and preserve some of the goodness. Alas, he is just a child and is limited in his knowledge and experience. But he is any day a better choice than most of the jokers at the helm.
lightmaster 12/4/2012 | 7:46:34 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? Neophone said:

"....do any company sold out himself when he is
in top rate?"

Buying a company when it is on top is not usually attractive as it costs way too much and the company on top has no reason to sell. The best return for the parent comes when you buy a company that is early in the cycle on the way up.

To do a good job of this, the aquiring company must do 3 things well:

1.Have the vision to recognize what products are needed early.
2.Do a good job in the due dillgence process to make sure the product and company are real.
3.Do a good job of integrating the aquired company without destroying it in the process.

The entire market seems to have been lacking in these skills for the past few years.
light speed 12/4/2012 | 7:46:36 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? dont think mom can do much. problem is very fundamental. morale is low and R&D guys leaving in droves because of dis-illusionment. friends i know are concern about going forward prospects and what it means to their jobs. every one waiting for a package or waiting to be fired. very depressing lot of people. quite sad. hope they come out as i have so money riding on them. stupid.
stryke_d 12/4/2012 | 7:46:37 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? Hey we can't get them all ;-)

We have been kept awake by rumour/gossip central trying to figure out what's going on...

Pretty strong hints that Mom will come to the rescue...
LightCycle 12/4/2012 | 7:46:37 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? > 1/2 the sales people and all the VPs I think was
> the quote.

Ahh yes, I stand corrected.

> > Nortel has YET to put the "feer of god" into

You missed my spello this time Stryke. I meant "fear", not feer.
stryke_d 12/4/2012 | 7:46:38 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? 1/2 the sales people and all the VPs I think was the quote.

You may be more than a little prophetic with this call LC.

stryke
Neophone 12/4/2012 | 7:46:38 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? By all accounts, Nortel bought some second rate companies at first rate prices

....do any company sold out himself when he is
in top rate?
LightCycle 12/4/2012 | 7:46:39 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? > Alteon was the Web Switching leader when Nortel
> acquired the company.

Not quite.

If you track Alteon's path, they were already begining to falter when Nortel acquired them. If anything the Alteon folks did helluv a sales job on Nortel! ;-)

Nevertheless, Nortel's poor showing with Alteon is a perfect example of history repeating itself - Nortel acquired Bay Networks when Bay was seriously faltering. Plus Nortel's messed up channel strategy and lack of channel focused marketing didn't help either.

> You want examples of bad acquisitions, look at
> XROS, Sonaoma, Architel, Coretek and Epicon.

All these acquitions had vision behind them - just that the timming and market circumstances sucked.

I'm not sure if ANY company out there with an ounce of vision could have done better.

> Nortels problems lie squarely on the shoulders
> of the politically incestuous management and

Too true!

One other point is that even with all the cuts that have happened, Nortel has YET to put the "feer of god" into their Sales force; more than half of them deserve to be given the axe.
detailsdetails 12/4/2012 | 7:46:41 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? Harvey,

You must have some of that Mudd in your eyes. Alteon was the Web Switching leader when Nortel acquired the company. Selling product and generating revenue. Good list of customers as well. Then Nortel bought them. Today they appear to be losing market share and unable to maintain momentum. Could it be the Nortel management?

You want examples of bad acquisitions, look at XROS, Sonaoma, Architel, Coretek and Epicon. These companies had diddly if any product or revenue and have been shut down or will be soon.

Nortels problems lie squarely on the shoulders of the politically incestuous management and their belief that you are promoted based on seniority with the mother ship instead of capability.

Unlke Cisco, Nortel is on the verge of bankruptcy as competitors will now look to wipe it from the landscape.
Lopez 12/4/2012 | 7:46:42 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? Most of the Nortel's current economic problems stem from the enormous expenses it incurred in acquiring useless companies. Billions of dollars were lost without giving any advantage to Nortel.

For example, Nortel acquired an useless company by the name Alteon. There was nothing in this company that Nortel could have used, yet this company was acquired. The Nortel personnel who recommended the acquisition of useless companies should be punished.

By all accounts, Nortel bought some second rate companies at first rate prices. After the Bay merger, Nortel tried to be too much like Cisco without having the experience. 1999 seemed like the year of one-up-man-ship. Of course noone questioned it then since we were riding high on the bubble.

Nortel is a great company and it will survive. Unlike Cisco, Nortel has enough R&D resources to develop products.

In my time at Nortel, none of the projects I worked on got out the door. There sure was a lot of R&D, but in the end noone wanted anything we built (or the converse, we weren't told to build the right thing).
HarveyMudd 12/4/2012 | 7:46:43 PM
re: Nortel: Can This Company Be Saved? Most of the Nortel's current economic problems stem from the enormous expenses it incurred in acquiring useless companies. Billions of dollars were lost without giving any advantage to Nortel.

For example, Nortel acquired an useless company by the name Alteon. There was nothing in this company that Nortel could have used, yet this company was acquired. The Nortel personnel who recommended the acquisition of useless companies should be punished.

Of all, the acquisition of any company in the Silicon Valley is frought with peril, but beinmg a Canadian Company it did not recognize the cast and characters of the founders and the Vcs, etc.

Nortel is a great company and it will survive. Unlike Cisco, Nortel has enough R&D resources to develop products.
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