Past Leadership

Charles Fleetford Sise

Charles Fleetford Sise organized the Bell Telephone Company of Canada. W.H. Forbes, president of the National Bell Telephone Company of Boston, appointed him to this position. Sise formed the Northern Electric Company Ltd., which eventually became Northern Telecom.

Charles W. Brown

Charles W. Brown managed the Mechanical Department, which eventually became part of Northern Telecom. He began the manufacturing of telephone equipment in 1882 from a tiny office in Montreal for the Bell Telephone Company of Canada.

Cy Peachey

Hired in the 1920s, Cy Peachey became one of Northern’s strongest advocates for internally supported research. “Look, the world isn’t going to end because we’ve been cut off from Western and Bell Labs. We know how to do it. We’ve got good engineers and we’re going to build our research and development organization and we’re all going to be pretty proud of it.”

H. Holley Keefler

Promoted from Bell Canada in the 1960s, H. Holley Keefler was selected to smooth relations between Bell Canada and Northern Electric. To help Northern pull through a tough adjustment period during which it learned to get on without the support of Western Electric, Keefler restructured the company’s executive hierarchy, promoting Vernon O. Marquez and Cy Peachey.

Dr. A. Brewer Hunt

Dr. A. Brewer Hunt headed Northern’s Research and Development division in the 1950s, during the difficult transition away from Western Electric’s support. “It was a tough situation for us to consider at the time and we moved slowly. It had been so seductively easy for us to pick up the phone and ask someone in Western Electric what to do about this or that, so that we didn’t have to think for ourselves. Having lost that crutch, it now threw the responsibility back on our own scientific people. We had to find the answers ourselves.”

Donald A. Chisholm

Donald A. Chisholm is widely regarded as one of the most original and influential thinkers who helped advise Northern. He was hired to preside over Bell Northern Research in 1971. Chisholm threw parties for staff members and their families, taught Northern employees to bunny hop and even had the Grenadier Guards march through the plant to wake up employees. He helped the BNR grow into a valuable, innovative organization. During his productive career, Chisholm earned various honorary degrees and professional awards for his talents and contributions.

Vernon O. Marquez

Vernon O. Marquez succeeded Keefler as Northern’s president in 1967. He reorganized the company along its product lines: switching-station apparatus, transmission and wire and cable. In considering the challenges Northern faced, Marquez recalls, “The greatest difficulty was the human problem. We were not a new company. We were over 60 years old in 1957 and our people had ingrained in them certain philosophies and practices. We had to change them. It was the most difficult thing to do.”

Robert Scrivener

Robert Scrivener became president of Bell in 1962, and is revered as a visionary who played a crucial role in Northern’s success. With great insight into the company’s potential, Scrivener encouraged Northern to move beyond Bell Canada and the Canadian market. He recommended Northern bring in an outsider to help the company become more aggressive and outwardly directed. This sound advice eventually led to the hiring of John C. Lobb.

John C. Lobb

John C. Lobb assumed the presidency of Northern in June of 1971. He immediately transformed the somewhat sleepy company into a profit-centric, globally oriented, competitive company. Lobb would ask random employees what they were in the business of making at Northern, and respond, “We don’t make switching goddamn it. We make money.” Lobb helped dramatically change Northern’s self image from a small Canadian business to an exceptional company with the potential to become a major player on the global field. During the first year of Lobb’s presidency, Northern’s net profit jumped from $4 million to $13 million. In 1972, profits doubled again.

Derek Davies

Derek Davies served as Northern’s Chief Corporate Marketing and Marketing Development Strategist in the 1970s. He was a major force behind the decision to commit to going digital. Davies strategically pushed the publication of the Digital World Ad in 1976. He wrote, “The single most important message we have to get across is ‘Hold everything’ in the next four years, everything goes digital, and Northern has the complete range.’” His passion, vision and confidence helped Northern achieve two years of technological advantage over its competitors by forcing the company to deliver digital well before the rest of the world.

David G. Vice

David G. Vice served as president and chief operating officer of Northern Telecom, and vice-chairman of products and technology. He helped Northern become the supplier of choice for 21 of the 22 newly independent Bell operating companies. Recalls Vice, “When the divestiture took place, we found that our customers embraced us in a bloody bear hug. They’d been with AT&T and Western Electric all those years and had been taken for granted They just took us in. We were a hit”

Walter Frederick Light

Walter Frederick Light spent 25 years working for Bell Canada, and became president of Northern in 1974. Light conducted a study of Northern Electric’s future and concluded Northern had to become a low-cost producer, a leader in technology, and a leader in market-driven technology. He asserted that Northern needed to attract and retain the most talented employees. To achieve this, Light instituted a top 100 most talented employee search. He also insisted that Northern adopt a more global perspective. Light’s business sense, determination and leadership helped Northern anticipate and prepare for today’s Information Superhighway – powered by the new, high-performance Internet.

Edmund B. Fitzgerald

In 1982, Edmund B. Fitzgerald assumed the presidency of Northern, and two years later, became chairman and CEO. Nicknamed “Fitz,” he was a top-notch spokesman and marketer. Fitz helped transform Northern from a $1.7 billion/year company to a $5 billion/year market leader.

Paul G. Stern

Paul G. Stern became CEO of Northern in 1989. He refocused the company to prioritize meeting the marketing needs of customers in the global marketplace. Stern negotiated strategic alliances with French, and British companies, and established close contacts in Mexico’s business community.

Charlie Shiu

A marketing executive for most of his 36 years at Northern, Charlie Shiu played a key role in the launch of Digital World and OPEN world. In 1997, he headed a new international subsidiary marketing group, dedicated to penetrating the French and UK markets. Shieu greatly helped Northern conduct business in China, and was appointed VP Strategic Development for Northern World Trade.

Owen Bradford Butler

Owen Bradford Butler was the first chairman elected after Northern changed its corporate governance procedures in 1993. He was a long time Northern Telecom director and former chairman of the U.S. company Proctor and Gamble.

Donald Schuenke

Donald Schuenke was appointed chairman of Northern in 1994. He had formerly served as chairman and CEO of Northwestern Mutual Life in Wisconsin. “Every company has to have a vision, a strategic plan by which you can assess opportunities and judge which ones to pursue so that you’re not just reacting when things happen…”

Jean C. Monty

Jean C. Monty took over as president of Northern in 1992. He was formerly chairman and CEO of Bell Canada. Monty began leading Northern at a time when the company was enduring considerable change. “We set up a management system and I tried to establish a link with certain people who don’t report to me directly so I’d have an informal information network… We had to accelerate the decision making process.” Monty made tough decisions, such as investing hundred of millions of dollars in products with growth potential and spending millions to expand the company’s presence globally.

Roy Merrills

Northern Telecom president Roy Merrills received the President’s Environment and Conservation Challenge Award for Innovation from US President George Bush. He made establishing genuine partnerships with customers a primary Northern business objective during his term. “One of the things we did with customers was let them into our engineering computer bases, which caused no end of fuss. It took a lot of selling internally to say we would allow the customers to come right into our data base and find out what could go wrong with the software. But we did that and we changed the attitude of Northern to our customers. Whenever a customer came to visit us in one of our plants, the employees would put up a sign saying, ‘We love you.’ I’ve seen customers walk into the manufacturing shop and start crying because they saw those placards.”

John Roth

John Roth was named president and chief executive officer of Nortel in 1997. He joined Nortel in 1969 as a design engineer and advanced to hold a wide range of management and executive positions within the corporation and its subsidiaries. Mr. Roth was instrumental in establishing Nortel’s wireless business, serving as the first president of the Wireless Network organization. As president and CEO, he was instrumental in the expansion of Nortel from a telecom equipment provider to a global brand name identified with the Internet.

Frank Dunn

Frank Dunn held the role of president and chief executive officer of Nortel from November, 2001 to April, 2004. During his 25 years with the company, Dunn progressed through positions of increasing responsibility and was involved in a variety of operational assignments across all the company’s major business units. Prior to becoming chief executive office, he served as Nortel’s chief financial officer for two years.

William Owens

William (Bill) Owens served as Nortel’s president and chief executive officer from April, 2004 to November, 2005. Prior to his term at Nortel, Owens’ served in a number of senior U.S. military positions, including vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the second-ranking U.S. military officer. Owens was also the architect of the Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA), an advanced systems technology approach to military operations that is the most significant change in the system of requirements, budgets and technology for the four armed forces since World War II. Owens was recognized as one of The 50 Most Powerful People In Networking in 2004 by Network World, one of the industry’s premier publications.

Mike S. Zafirovski

Mike Zafirovski was the President and Chief Executive Officer of Nortel Networks from November 2005 until August 2009. United States President George W. Bush appointed Zafirovski to the National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee in July 2007.