RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. — So whatever happened to the tradition of the captain going down with the ship? In the case of bankrupt S.O.S. Nortel-anic, flush the idea down the drain along with the company.
Embattled Chief Executive Mike Zafirovski told The Ottawa Citizen in an interview published Saturday that he plans to bail out on the company he failed to save. As Nortel is dismembered and sold in pieces, Captain Z is about to take to a financial lifeboat of another job, while Nortel’s remaining 27,000 employees sink or swim at the whim of the asset buyers.
Hey, Captain Z, ever hear of the Titanic – women and children first (in most cases)? What about the equivalent in the case of S.O.S. Nortel-anic, your left-behind employees?
The hubris of the man is galling. One can bet that Captain Z will sail off in a boat packed with cash, courtesy a golden parachute, or more likely a golden paddle.
"I’ve told the board of directors I’ll give this job 100 percent and walk out with my head held high," he told longtime Nortel watcher and Ottawa Citizen reporter James Bagnall. "Obviously, I’m not going to be a CEO of a residual company dealing with patent assets and claims."
I’m sure many Nortel employees left at a “residual firm” would just as soon say aloha and serve under another CEO anyway.
This is the same man who refused to do his principled duty and meet one-on-one with disgruntled pensioners until compelled to by Canada’s Parliament.
This is the same man who sought millions in retention bonuses for key executives (not including himself, at least) even as Nortel’s hull was being crushed by icebergs of ice-cold sales and existing customers bailed.
Could Captain Z have saved S.O.S. Nortel when he took over three years ago? Perhaps not, but bailing before the final sinking is simply not honorable.
Apparently Captain Z has already been talking with other employers. How can one give 100 percent to an existing job if one is looking to chart a different course off the bridge?
"I’ve been working for 34 years, and I’ve been fortunate enough for 21 of them to be president and CEO of something," the Captain told Bagnall. "I love doing it."