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Kerry Eberwein shakes things up

Bell Canada has been around for more than a century, but this year the grand dame of telephony it is getting a bit of a shake-up -- in the cabling department, that is.41-year-old Kerry Eberwein has re...

April 1, 2002  

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Bell Canada has been around for more than a century, but this year the grand dame of telephony it is getting a bit of a shake-up — in the cabling department, that is.

41-year-old Kerry Eberwein has recently taken the cabling helm for the company in North America. And just one short year into his term as General Manager of Cabling, has been mixing it up, moving it around, and making it happen.

“We have a sense of urgency around there,” says Eberwein, a Montreal native who now lives and works in Ottawa, “It is a sense of urgency around delivery, around meeting customer expectations, and around being innovative and going beyond the normal scope.”

Getting things done

This “sense of urgency” to get things done seems characteristic of Eberwein who, during his 14 years at Bell, worked in a variety of divisions (Bell Canada, Bell Nexxia and Stentor) and positions (from outside plant engineering to business development) before taking over the cabling division in early 2001.

“It is an honour to head up this division,” says Eberwein. “Coming in my goal was that we could ‘operationalize’. We needed to be able to deliver a total cabling technology solution to our customers.”

In fact, he says his new position, which makes him responsible for delivering cabling solutions on a national basis, is mostly about being accountable to Bell’s customers. “We believe, as an organization, that all new technologies are causing our customers to make tough choices as to how they allocate their resources,” says Eberwein. “One of these is infrastructure. Cabling infrastructure touches every aspect of a business and can be a key determinant in the success or failure of their business.”

Customers are key

To help customers in this regard, Eberwein amalgamated a number of departments within Bell Canada (i.e. marketing, product management etc.) to form one cohesive group of about 95 people.

When asked about this decision, he talks about convergence: “The marketplace is changing and we have to adapt. Customers are demanding content, connectivity and commerce — we are converging those three things.”

He says their main goal is to ‘futureproof’ their customers’ enterprises and “ensure that a customer’s cabling solution will meet future requirements.” To this end, he and his team have instituted several new services, including an asset management program, a cable care maintenance care program, and more services around infrastructure cabling.

In addition, Eberwein’s team is working on gaining new business and rolling out major new national projects, including a current project at the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC).

Looking forward

He also has some lofty plans for the future, which he describes as: becoming a market leader in cabling solutions; staying one step ahead of the changing landscape; and growing market share directly with Bell’s partners.

“Over the next four to five years, there will be a tremendous focus on infrastructure because of the changing technology landscape,” he says. This, he says, will play out in terms of products and services offered, and the bandwidth and quality of network available.

And he and his team will be right there to help deal with the changes. He even plans to add 15 new people (mostly product managers and account managers) to his staff in the first quarter of 2002 to help meet growing demand.

And the demand seems to be there. Eberwein says that Bell has held up quite well — and even grew five points of market share nationally last year — despite the current economic squeeze.

He believes part of the reason for this is Bell’s reputation in the marketplace: “In times of tough economics, when customers have tough demands on them, they will turn to companies that they know will be around for the long term.”

On the cutting edge

Ultimately, Eberwein wants to keep things at Bell exciting and on the cutting edge. And he is certainly dedicated to the cause (and even admits to a usual 80-hour workweek).

But when he leaves the office it is all about spending time with this family and enjoying cottage life in Haliburton.

However, it seems you can take the man out of cabling, but you can’t take the cabling out of the man. Even at his peaceful cottage retreat, Eberwein can be found working on the wiring, electricity and plumbing — and loving it.

Janine Strom is Editor of Cabling Systems magazine.

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