RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. — Mike Zafirovski continues to fill out his management team at Nortel, the latest move filling a spot focused on one of his top priorities.

Holding Nortel manufacturing and customer service standards to strict Six Sigma qualities has been a goal Zafirovski set since he took over as chief executive officer of Nortel.

On Monday, Nortel announced it had hired Ellen Bovarnick, an executive with Coca-Cola in Atlanta, to lead the Six Sigma effort.

Six Sigma is a data-driven approach to reducing defects and improving quality. The system was developed at Motorola in the 1980s.

Zafirovski came to Nortel from Motorola last fall. He was president and chief operating officer of Motorola.

Bovarnick will be based at Nortel’s campus in Research Triangle Park.

“Ellen Bovarnick has an impressive track record of maximizing quality, improving customer satisfaction, and streamlining business processes at major global corporations,” Zafirovski said in a statement. “Her experience in driving quality change on a global scale will be of great benefit to both Nortel and our customers.”

Bovarnick’s title is vice president of Lean Six Sigma and Global Quality. At Coca-Cola, she was vice president of business process excellence and led Six Sigma Strategies. She also has worked on Six Sigma issues in the past, serving as senior vice president for Six Sigma Quality at GE Capital Mortgage and in a similar position for the aerospace division of Honeywell International.

Bovarnick will report to Joel Hackney, senior vice president for global operations and quality at Nortel.

“Nortel successfully launched Lean Six Sigma this year, and the timing is right for a dynamic leader like Ellen to drive it to advanced levels,” Hackney said. “Ellen will lead this initiative through a strong focus on Nortel’s key priority areas – customer satisfaction, time to market, cost of poor quality and cash management. Her experience, insight, and vision are an asset to Nortel.”

Bovarnick earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in business at Boston University and a law degree at the University of Denver.

Nortel: www.nortel.com