AlcaLu Appoints Transformer

Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) CEO Ben Verwaayen clearly isn't satisfied with the current rate of change at his company, so he has created a new job -- Senior Vice President of Transformation -- and elevated one of his current regional executives, Victor Agnellini, to the post.

Verwaayen (or Big Ben, as we like to call him) previously designated 2009 as "a year of transition," and now he's looking to Agnellini to make sure Alcatel-Lucent won't need to be so inwardly focused in 2010.

"Victor’s nomination today is a major step in making sure that at a global level, we have the transformation activities in our systems, processes, strategy and culture all fully orchestrated," stated the CEO in today's news release. "This is a critical step in returning the company to profitability while staying entirely focused on our customers’ needs."

Profitability has been a bit of an issue at Alcatel-Lucent of late: The vendor followed a disastrous 2008 with a poor start to 2009. It reports its second-quarter earnings this Thursday (July 30). (See Hard Times for Alcatel-Lucent and AlcaLu Ends 2008 With €5.2B Loss.)

Capital move for Agnellini
Before his new role as Big Ben's dedicated Transformer, Agnellini was president of AlcaLu's Caribbean and Latin American operations. (See Codetel Does IPTV With AlcaLu.)

Now he's based in Paris and responsible for all sorts of stuff related to the vendor's new strategy (as outlined late last year), which includes cutting costs, shaking up the troops, refocusing the portfolio, and turning Alcatel-Lucent into a "normal company." (See AlcaLu's New Vision: More Convergence and Verwaayen Unveils AlcaLu's New Plan .)

That process involves a lot of different actions that could, in a company as large and widespread as AlcaLu, easily take place in a haphazard and disjointed manner, so Agnellini's main task is to "orchestrate the transformation initiatives being done throughout the company into a single global project." Let's hope he can multitask.

Agnellini's remit, which looks Herculean, includes (take a deep breath):

  • Aligning "the company and its portfolio and R&D" around the vendor's "application enablement vision." That's a lot of "I Heart Telco 2.0" badges to hand out!

  • Improving and streamlining AlcaLu's "structure, processes, balance sheet, and business model, including developing an ecosystem of co-sourcing partners such as the recent alliance with HP Inc. (NYSE: HPQ)." So at any one time he'll need to act like a CEO, CFO, and chief strategy officer all rolled into one. Will he get any time off? (See AlcaLu, HP Combine on IT.)

  • "Enhancing decision making and improving customer engagement through reducing management complexity, simplifying the customer relationship processes, and encouraging a collaborative corporate culture by further improving the already strong use of Web 2.0 communication technologies within the company." Sounds as if Agnellini might have a lot of Facebook and Twitter accounts to monitor.

Despite the magnitude and clear importance of Agnellini's role, he won't be reporting directly to Verwaayen: His immediate boss is Claire Pedini, who is head of human resources and transformation at Alcatel-Lucent. We bet she's glad of the help.

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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digits 12/5/2012 | 3:59:49 PM
re: AlcaLu Appoints Transformer

I've just noticed that this summer's Transformers movie is called




Is this an omen? :-0


opticalwatcher 12/5/2012 | 3:59:48 PM
re: AlcaLu Appoints Transformer

I'm leary of companies where the human resources department is high up on the org chart. Really they are just a service and should be off the main org chart altogether. Nevertheless, you see this a lot with big companies because it is easier (and lazier) for the CEO to manage the services rather than manage the product.

Actually it can be easy--work on the customers, let the product groups manage themselves and stay out of their way.

Successful companies are run by the marketing, sales, and R&D departments.


Their other announcement, buying Velocix, is more of what I see upper management's proper role. Strategize how the product groups can better support the customers.

paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 3:59:47 PM
re: AlcaLu Appoints Transformer

So tera....you do not believe that the employees of a high tech company are its most important asset?



PS - That is the reason that HR generally shows up high on corporate org charts it comes from the Jack Welch theory of management.


paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 3:59:46 PM
re: AlcaLu Appoints Transformer




In a startup, one is expected to hire experienced people and work them to death.  There is little need for personal and career development.  That is why there is no need for HR - people are supposed to be slaves to the completion of the work.  The loss of a single key employee can put the company out of business.  That is why startups are what they are high risk/high reward environments.  It is also one of the reasons that so many startups have trouble transitioning out of being a startup.

In large organizations that have existed, things are different.  Not better, not worse but different.  Shareholders require things like succession plans for key individuals.  Training departments need to exist.  It is harder to communicate when the employee base does not exist in a single place, let alone fit in a single room.  There are lots and lots of differences.

Now, I agree with you that there are plenty of bad HR departments.  It does not mean the concept of a service organization that is supposed to help the organization's prime asset is bad.  It means that (just like in all of these things) many organizations have problems and poor leadership.  I can not speak for the organization at Alcatel as I have never worked there.



opticalwatcher 12/5/2012 | 3:59:46 PM
re: AlcaLu Appoints Transformer

That's the arrogance of many human resource departments--that they think all the employees work for them.

I think the employees are important. That's why it's nice that there are services available to them, like human resource departments they can go to to find out about benefits and such. Maybe such departments should be outsourced so upper management doesn't make the mistake of thinking that this department is anything but a group that provides service to the people doing the real work.


Go to any startup. The 'human resources department' is usually one person--often a temporary employee.

Duh! 12/5/2012 | 3:59:45 PM
re: AlcaLu Appoints Transformer

HR, in a functional organization, is an advocate for the employees.  They're the folks to go to if your boss screws you over on your review, your boss's boss starts hitting on you,  some of your peers start to make an issue of your ethnicity, or you just have a problem with your health insurance. In that context, giving them the power on the org chart to fix problems like that is a positive thing.

Unfortunately, corporate management in the post-Jack Welch era has turned the HR function inside-out.  They've become an advocate for management in too many organizations. Or they've been so hollowed out that they can't even deal effectively with problems before they blow up.  It's a lot harder to go explain an issue to some disembodied (and often outsourced) voice on the phone than to the nice person you see every day and lets you know that your issues are their issues.

gocowboys 12/5/2012 | 3:59:44 PM
re: AlcaLu Appoints Transformer

If this is such an important role, why doesn't Agnellini report directly to Ben? In a start up, this type of position would report directly to the CEO in order to make sure that there is executive alignment and the authority to execute on the charter.

You don't turn the Queen Mary by putting your toe in the water. In addition, what makes Agnellini qualified for this role? His background according to the article is less than compelling. Couldn't ALU get an industry heavy weight for this position?

This one leaves me cold, or is that "I have fallen and I can't get up?"


telcofortwo 12/5/2012 | 3:59:43 PM
re: AlcaLu Appoints Transformer

"Despite the magnitude and clear importance of Agnellini's role, he won't be reporting directly to Verwaayen: His immediate boss is Claire Pedini, who is head of human resources and transformation at Alcatel-Lucent."

Somewhere we missed the detail that the head of HR is also the head of transformation at ALU........ so other than Agnellini getting a promotion, that does not change the fact that the "head of transformation" is his boss. It defeats the purpose of his third task:

"Enhancing decision making and improving customer engagement through reducing management complexity.......".

So much for that........


digits 12/5/2012 | 3:59:41 PM
re: AlcaLu Appoints Transformer

Well, when Ben V (that's not Ben the Fifth, like Henry V - anyway...) named his new leadership team in November 2008, Claire Pedini wasn't apportioned the 'transformation' role.




If you look at Agnellini's role, it involves so much  human resources-type stuff (esp the cultural changes) that it's not, in my view, that strange that he reports to Pedini, who then needs to be given a Transformation badge too. 

All I can think is - good luck to him! I can only presume he is a "glass half full" kinda guy, otherwise he'll likely quickly crumble. It wouldn't surprise me if he is viewed by the Alcatel old guard as the equivalent of 'Internal Affairs'...

jepovic 12/5/2012 | 3:59:40 PM
re: AlcaLu Appoints Transformer

"If this is such an important role, why doesn't Agnellini report directly to Ben?"

Or more to the point, why doesn't Ben handle these issues himself? If a CEO delegates an issue to a regional manager (who doesn't have the line authority over the other managers), he's making the issue less - not more - important.

This is such classic behaviour of a merger gone sour. They'll go the Nortel way within two years. Did you notice that Ericsson didn't even mention Alcalu as a competitor? ZTE  and Huawei, yes, nut not Alcalu.

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