Title: Chairman and CEO, Motorola Solutions (MSI)
Commencement: Rutgers University
Date: May 13
"Every time you think you’ve made it, there’s often another crisis and another set of challenges. ... Motorola had lost its way. It was hemorrhaging cash and losing customers at an alarming rate. Many thought the company could not survive, so I became CEO. We decided to split the company. We decided the future of the company was going to be best served by exiting the very business—cell phones—that we had invented 30 years earlier. This was the mother of all decisions and the most important one in the company’s 80-year history, and certainly the biggest one in my career.
"That was hard enough. Then came the financial crisis in the fall of 2008, the second-worst economic calamity in our nation’s history after the Great Depression. … Motorola’s stock price went to about $3 per share; the financial markets almost failed. The credit markets seized up. We froze pensions, cut bonuses, laid off employees, dealt with activist investors. In my terms, this was a code red in the cockpit. When things are going well for any organization, the people in charge, deservedly or not, are often treated like geniuses or visionaries. When the ship has hit an iceberg and is perceived to be going down, it’s quite a different story. Then the fingers point, the critics harp, and the rumors fly. I wish I could say I wasn’t stung by the criticism or haunted by doubts."