The WPI International Corporate Leaders Roundtable: The Impact of Evolving Technologies on the Future of Business

Panel of Corporate Leaders


Joaquim Agut
Executive Chairman of Terra Lycos
Joaquim Agut serves as executive chairman of Terra Lycos and is responsible for the strategic direction and day-to-day operations of the company. Prior to the combination of Terra and Lycos in October 2000, Agut was chairman of Terra Networks.

Prior to joining Terra, Agut was leader of the European Corporate Executive Council (CEC) of General Electric (GE) and was the first executive of General Electric in Europe. At General Electric, Agut previously held the roles of vice president and general manager of marketing and sales, president and CEO of GE Power Controls, and GE national executive for Spain and Portugal and chairman of the Pan European GE Quality Council. Agut has been active in the local and national business community, responsible for Spain's industrial electronic sector integration in the EEC. In 1984, he was awarded the Young Businessman of the Year Award from a leading Spanish Economic magazine. Agut earned a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering from the University Politécnica de Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain, and an MBA from IESE at Universidad de Navarra.



Curtis R. Carlson '67
President and CEO of SRI International
Curtis R. Carlson is President and Chief Executive Officer of SRI International. SRI is one of the world's largest independent research, development, and consulting organizations with over 2,000 employees. SRI performs research, provides technology licenses, and creates up to seven new companies each year in the areas of information technology, biotechnology, materials and solid-state devices, and education and economic development. It works for and partners with commercial clients, foundations, governments, and venture capitalists around the globe. In its 55 year history SRI has made many world-changing innovations. They include the origins of personal computing - including the "mouse;" inventing electronic banking - including the magnetic numbers on every check; helping invent the Internet and receiving the first Internet transmission; inventing the U.S. standard for high-definition television; and pioneering computer speech understanding and creating the world's leading speech-recognition company - Nuance. More recently the SRI Ventures Creation Process has become a model for many international companies and government laboratories.

Prior to joining SRI, Carlson was Executive Vice President of the Sarnoff Corporation, one of SRI's two wholly owned subsidiaries. As head of Ventures and Licensing at Sarnoff, Dr. Carlson helped found more than twelve new companies. Dr. Carlson started and helped lead the digital high-definition television (HDTV) program that became the U.S. standard and that won an Emmy in 1998 for outstanding technical achievement. In October of 2000, Dr. Carlson's team from Sarnoff received another Emmy for pioneering the development of the system for digital television picture-quality measurement that is now used world-wide. He helped establish and was Executive Director of the National Information Display Laboratory, a new collaborative model for research, development, and commercialization between the government and commercial industry. Dr. Carlson has worked with many branches of the U.S. Government. He was on the team that created the Army's Federated Laboratory program and he was a member of the Galvin Committee, which made major recommendations about restructuring the Naval Research Laboratories. He has also served on the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board, the Defense Science Board, and the Army Research Laboratory Technical Assessment Board. He is a charter member of the Highlands Group, which makes technology recommendations to senior officials in the U.S. government.

Dr. Carlson has been on the boards of Sarif, an LCD display company; Sensar, a biometric identification company; and was interim President for Pyramid Vision Technologies, a broadcast equipment company. Currently he is on the boards of Nuance Communications, a speech-recognition company, and AtomicTangerine, an Internet-security consulting company. Dr. Carlson is a Tau Beta Pi graduate from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in physics and has a Ph.D. from Rutgers University in aerospace sciences. He has published over 50 papers and has received 15 patents. He is a member of Tau Beta Pi, Sigma Xi, and the IEEE.

Synopsis - Ingredients for Success in the Exponential Economy
As the world economy becomes based increasingly on knowledge, product improvements must be made at rapid exponential rates to survive. Examples are computers, where "Moore's Law" requires a doubling of price-performance every 18 months. Some fiber optics communications data rates now double every 9 to 12 months. Content on the Web doubles every 3 to 6 months. Decoding the human genetic structure and the emergence of medicine as an information technology has resulted in doubling of aspects of medical progress every 18 months. The list of products improving at these rapid rates grows yearly. These rapidly improving market segments are beginning to include, albeit to a lesser extent, even food, education, and energy. History has shown that keeping up with rapid exponential improvement is extremely hard. Think of the hundreds of computer companies that no longer exist. In this talk I describe features of this "Exponential Economy" and some of the requirements for it to happen. I will then describe some ideas we use at SRI International to improve business concepts at exponential-like rates. Such processes are needed to keep up. Finally, since this is a world of constant change, I will outline a family of techniques we use to help our staff adapt to change and succeed.



W.S. Lin
President of Tatung Company
Mr. W. S. Lin is currently the President of Tatung Company, a leading electric and electronic company in Taiwan with annual sales over 7 billion US dollars and products over 300. The Company has 17 global manufacturing sites in 12 countries and its products are sold in most of the countries. With his intelligence, integrity, industry and outstanding leadership, Mr. Lin has successfully led the company to a continuous growth and achieved the company goal of creating values to benefit customs, employees and shareholders all together.

Mr. Lin is also the President of Chinese Institute of Electric Engineering in Taiwan and a member of President International Advisory Board, WPI. He is delighted to attend the international CEOs' roundtable to share his experiences and viewpoints about the impact of evolving technology on the business with everybody attending the meeting.

Synopsis - Impact of Evolving Technology on the Future of Business: Tatung's Experience and Viewpoint



Donald K. Peterson '71
President and CEO AVAYA Inc.
Donald K. Peterson is president and chief executive officer of Avaya, and vice-chairman of Avaya's board of directors. Previously, Peterson had been executive vice president and chief financial officer of Lucent Technologies since 1996. He was responsible for executive management and oversight of all financial operations and information systems for the company.

Peterson began his career in 1973 as a senior analyst at State Mutual Life Assurance Company in Worcester, Massachusetts. He joined Northern Telecom in 1976 and advanced through a number of key financial, sales and general management positions in the United States and Canada, including serving as NORTEL's chief financial officer until 1994.

In 1994 Peterson was appointed president of NORTEL Communications Systems, Inc., Nashville, Tenn. In this assignment he was responsible for direct sales to end users for PBX, key, packet switch and broadband products in the United States and for sales of PBX and key products in Canada.

Prior to his appointment at Lucent, Peterson had served as the chief financial officer of AT&T's Communications Services Group since September 1995. He was responsible for oversight of all financial operations within AT&T Communications Services.

Born in Worcester, Massachusetts, Peterson attended Worcester Polytechnic Institute, earning his B.S. degree in mechanical engineering in 1971. He was granted an M.B.A. from Dartmouth College's Amos Tuck School in Hanover, New Hampshire, in 1973.

Peterson's professional qualifications include being a Chartered Life Underwriter and a Chartered Financial Analyst.

He is a member of the board of directors of Reynolds and Reynolds Co.; a member of the Board of Trustees of Worcester Polytechnic Institute; and member of the Executive Committee of the National Association of Manufacturers.

Synopsis - Convergence of Voice and Data
Network convergence means putting the voice and data communications of a business or organization on a single network, instead of today's separate voice and data networks. Converged networks are finally emerging as companies such as Avaya are demonstrating that the flexible, powerful Internet protocol can successfully carry voice as well as data. But IP-based networks can't be just for the adventurous. For converged networks to spread in the market, customers are turning to suppliers like Avaya for a cost-effective, reliable approach to IP that migrates and sustains critical traditional capability, preserves investment, lowers costs and assures the highest network performance, while opening the way for exciting new applications never before possible.



David Walsh
President and COO of Global Crossing
David A. Walsh is president and COO of Global Crossing Ltd. He has also served as co-chief operating officer, sales and marketing. Mr. Walsh was named head of global sales and marketing after the completion of Global Crossing's acquisition of IXnet, Inc. and IPC Communications, Inc. Mr. Walsh had been chief executive officer of IXnet and IPC.

Mr. Walsh founded IXnet in 1993. Prior to forming IXnet, Mr. Walsh served as a technology consultant to the New York Futures and Commodities Exchanges. Among his responsibilities was the development of the combined exchange membership trading network. In addition, he was senior manager for the design of technological systems for their new trading facility for the Exchanges.

Mr. Walsh also formed Voyager Networks, an enhanced Internet service provider. He served as its CEO and president until leaving to run IXnet on a full-time basis. Mr. Walsh also held various technological positions at Garban, Garvin Guybutler and Drexel Burnham Lambert Trading. He received his B.B.A. from Valdosta State College and an M.P.S. in telecommunications from New York University.

Synopsis - The Evolution and Convergence of Information Technologies and their Impact on Business
As we enter the new millennium, the "network-based" economy will spawn a wide array of business applications transforming traditional operating models and yielding far-reaching efficiency gains. The deployment of broadband networks and Internet Protocol (IP) based technologies have driven network economics, in which the value of the network is largely a function of the number of users connected to the network (Metcalf's Law).

A key area of innovation impacting business practices is the emergence of the Extranet. Revolving around "communities of interest", IP-enabled extranets generate a range of applications, from supply chain management to clearing house processes, collaborative workflows and e-commerce. Specific sectors of industry especially lend themselves to the adoption of extranet applications, for example, the Financial Services and Media & Entertainment industries.



Ronald L. Zarrella '71
President of General Motors North America
Ronald L. Zarrella was elected executive vice president of General Motors and president of General Motors North America on October 5, 1998. He had been GM vice president and group executive in charge of GM's North American Vehicle Sales, Service, and Marketing Group since Dec. 12, 1994. Prior to joining General Motors, Zarrella had been president and chief operating officer of the Bausch & Lomb Corporation of Rochester, New York.

Born in Waterbury, Connecticut on October 12, 1949, Zarrella received a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in 1971 and attended New York University.

From 1971 to 1979, Zarrella held manufacturing, logistics and engineering management positions with Bristol Meyers Company and then joined the Esmark Corporation in 1979 as a divisional vice president of operations. While at Esmark, Zarrella also served as assistant to the president of the Consumer Products Group and as general manager of Australian operations.

Zarrella joined Bausch & Lomb in 1985 and in 1987 he was named president of the International Division. He became president and chief operating officer and a member of Bausch & Lomb's board of directors in 1993.

Zarrella is chairman of the board of trustees of Worcester Polytechnic Institute, a trustee of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, a member of the board of visitors of John Hopkins School of Medicine, XM Satellite Radio and a director of FIRST USA.

Synopsis - The Impact of Technology on General Motors Today
We are all familiar with what General Motors has been. But not everyone understands today what General Motors has become today. Far from embodying the "smokestack industry" of popular imagination, today's General Motors has become every bit as innovation-oriented, technology-focused and speed-obsessed as a Silicon Valley startup.

General Motors views its connection to its customers as the most valuable connection it has in today's competitive marketplace. GM is always looking at ways to strengthen that connection... customer by customer... and is fast developing an appreciation for the role that emerging technologies will play in its future relationships with its customers. Ron Zarrella will discuss what General Motors is today, and how its use of technology will impacts its relationship with its customer.



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Last modified: Oct 18, 2002, 17:09 EDT