What makes him powerful: Newly minted Alcatel-Lucent CEO Ben Verwaayen has only been on the job a few weeks and already he's rumored to be working with his former employer BT to secure an outsourcing contract worth millions for Alcatel Lucent. If he can secure this deal and several more like it, it will certainly help the troubled infrastructure vendor, which is desperately in need of some strong leadership.
Verwaayen is certainly a breath of fresh air for Alcatel Lucent. In his short tenure with the firm, he has also ordered his fellow executives to start flying on commercial airlines instead of using one of the firm's three corporate jets. Alcatel-Lucent will ground its three business jets based at New Jersey's Morristown Municipal Airport when leases on two of them expire at the end of October.
Verwaayen, of course, replaced Patricia Russo, as CEO of the firm at the end of September. Russo resigned in late July amid lots of criticism about her performance. Verwaayen, who once was vice chairman of the management board of Lucent, is no stranger to Alcatel-Lucent's problems and he is charged with the daunting task of turning this company around amid growing competition from rivals such as Ericsson and Chinese vendor Huawei.
What makes Verwaayen powerful is that in this honeymoon period of his new job he has already shown that he is willing to take an unpopular stance and cut costs in the executive suite -hence no private jets. Of course, the true test of his power will come in the months ahead and help determine whether he will rise up a few notches on the 2009 FierceWireless Most Powerful People in Wireless list.