Ben Verwaayen, Alcatel-Lucent: Wireline's most powerful people

What makes him powerful:

Ben Verwaayen

Ben Verwaayen, CEO & Chairman, Alcatel-Lucent

Since Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) ousted former CEO Patricia Russo in 2008, Ben Verwaayen has been on a mission to right what was a struggling ship that had several unprofitable quarters since the French and American company agreed to merge in 2006.

Verwaayen wasn't exactly a newcomer to Alcatel-Lucent, having served in executive positions at the former Lucent and ITT, a telecom conglomerate company the former Alcatel purchased in the 1980s. 

From an overall company perspective, Verwaayen's goal is to transform Alcatel-Lucent in what he says will be a "normal company."

Turning a company's fortunes around is nothing new to Verwaayen. At BT (NYSE: BT), Verwaayen doubled the once monopoly phone company's profit from $1.6 billion in 2002 to $2.82 billion by the time he left in 2008.

Part of Verwaayen's ongoing drive to profitability strategy since taking the helm in 2008 has been to increase his focus on a few key areas, including 4G LTE wireless, of course, optical and IP networking.

On the wireline side, Verwaayen's efforts have been paying off especially IP group and emerging uptick in submarine cabling industry segments.

One of the standout segments that cut across both its wireline and wireless customers is the IP division. Once a newcomer in a space that's still predominantly a two-horse race between Cisco and Juniper, Alcatel-Lucent's IP/MPLS edge router business continues to attract new customers such as MTN Nigeria, KT and nTelos.

In Q1 2011, Alcatel-Lucent's IP/MPLS server router business revenues were up 40 percent from Q1 2010 and nearly doubled in the Americas region.

While Verwaayen has been building a strong foundation to achieve his "normal company" goals, the question now is once it gets to the normal state how can maintain that momentum and more effectively compete against Ericsson and low-cost competitor Huawei.

Ben Verwaayen, Alcatel-Lucent: Wireline's most powerful people