Ben Verwaayen, CEO, Alcatel Lucent
What makes him powerful: Alcatel-Lucent CEO Ben Verwaayen has only been on the job a little over a year, but he's already making inroads to revamp the struggling infrastructure vendor that has not been profitable since Alcatel and Lucent merged in 2006.
Verwaayen has repeatedly said that his goal is to bring the company back to break even in 2009--so all eyes will be watching as the firm reports its third quarter results.
One way Verwaayen plans to turn things around is by strengthening Alcatel-Lucent's wireless business--and already he has made some strides in this area. In February, Alca-Lu won a high-profile deal with Verizon when it was named one of the carrier's key LTE vendors. The deal helped solidify Alcatel-Lucent as a serious LTE contender, and since then the company has inked several more agreements to trial its LTE gear with operators globally.
On the 3G front, Alcatel-Lucent in April inked two very significant contracts with China Mobile and China Telecom that totaled more than $1.7 billion for network upgrades, infrastructure and services. The China Mobile deal involves deploying networking equipment using China's homegrown standard, TD-SCDMA, as well as optical, microwave and IP transmission offerings, IP service routers, application platforms and other services. The China Telecom deal will allow Alcatel-Lucent will supply its 3G CDMA/EV-DO networking equipment to help China Telecom roll out its wireless broadband network.
Alcatel-Lucent has further tried to distinguish itself from its competitors by launching the ng Connect Program, an initiative designed to establish an ecosystem of infrastructure, devices, content and applications for both mobile and fixed broadband networks, including 4G, LTE, GPON and other technologies. Since its launch in February, ng Connect has attracted more partner companies and showcased proof of concept designs that demonstrate what can be done via 4G mobile broadband networks.
But Verwaayen certainly faces challenges ahead. Despite his comments to the contrary, the company has been battling ongoing rumors that it will either merge or be acquired by one of its rivals. --Sue