Nortel Networks hires comms head

BRAMPTON, ONTARIO: Nortel Networks has named Bill Durling its new VP of corporate communications. Durling joins the IT networking company as it tries to move beyond accounting scandals, layoffs, and management turnover that have besieged the company.

BRAMPTON, ONTARIO: Nortel Networks has named Bill Durling its new VP of corporate communications. Durling joins the IT networking company as it tries to move beyond accounting scandals, layoffs, and management turnover that have besieged the company.

Nortel's accounting came under fire after the company said it would have to restate earnings as far back as 2000. It now faces shareholder lawsuits and criminal investigations in the US and Canada.

The company has also fired seven financial managers, along with its CEO, CFO, and comptroller.

Durling will replace Marion MacKenzie, who will leave Nortel May 27, after two years with the company, to take time off and travel.

"Obviously the past two years have been very interesting, and pretty relentless," said MacKenzie. "There were a lot of late-nighters. I feel like I earned a PhD in communications."

Durling joins Nortel from IBM, where he was director of communications for the software group. Durling has also worked for Rational Software, Weber Shandwick, and Hewlett-Packard.

Nortel has a great brand, but that brand has been tarnished, said Durling, adding that he is up to the challenge of helping "put the polish back on the brand."

Because the company's legal and financial woes have been the dominant story for some time, Durling said he wants to focus on the company's technology and customer success stories, as well as rebuilding its thought leadership.

Durling recognizes that it will be a challenge to get people to look past the controversy.

"The engineering community cares more about the technology than the financials," said Durling. "But we want other audiences and decision makers to feel good about the company."

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