Zafirovski’s E-mail About Hackney

This is an internal e-mail that Mike Zafirovski issued about the Hackney “incident”.

“All of us at Nortel have an obligation to act with personal and professional integrity. These behaviors are the hallmarks of great leaders and great companies. I place as high a value on integrity and ethics as I do our goals of driving superior performance and business results.

As many of you know, there has been great concern recently because of an incident involving one of our co-workers and a leader, Joel Hackney. Given the nature of this incident I want to personally restate our commitment to ethics and integrity and share the action we have taken.

Last October, following a basketball game that he attended with his wife and children, Joel was involved in an incident that resulted in him entering into a consent agreement, which means he is required to complete certain actions by May 2007 before the charges will be completely dismissed.

Nortel takes this incident very seriously and, for the last six days, Chief Compliance Officer Bob Bartzokas has led a rigorous review involving numerous external and internal interviews (the internal interviews were with employees in and outside of Joel’s organization). This process was comprehensive in nature and I want to assure you that we took full account of all the employee input and response we’ve received regarding the incident.

Bob and the Compliance Committee completed their review and concluded the October incident was isolated. The Committee recommended certain appropriate actions and advised the board of directors of its findings and recommendations. The specific details of the actions will remain private, as they would for any Nortel employee.

Joel deeply regrets this incident and the impact it is having on everyone concerned. Knowing my intent to update you today, he asked me to share the following statement:

“I want you to know that I am taking full responsibility for the consequences of my actions. I have also communicated my personal apology to Ms. Ogden. I know this incident has caused embarrassment for my family, my employer and my co-workers. I am truly sorry.”

Joel is a leader with an important mandate who will need to continue to challenge his team to perform at world-class levels while exemplifying our leadership and core values. His track record includes very strong results and his leadership capability has been validated by employee assessments (as recent as December 2006), which included feedback from all of his direct reports. That said, I know Joel is taking this incident very seriously and will use it to work to become an even better leader.

I am absolutely confident of Joel’s ability to execute our business objectives, and he has given me his full assurance that he will hold to the highest ethical and professional standards expected of a Nortel leader.

Mike Z


39 Responses to “Zafirovski’s E-mail About Hackney”

  1. AnotherXNortel Says:

    I think he was more truly sorry it made the news than anything because before he felt it was a minor thing. I say give him a raise and let him know what a great job he is doing maybe him and Mike Tyson and can get together and fight women on a professional level starting a whole new boxing circuit.

  2. doiof Says:

    Mike has a track record of hiring “high maintenance” kiss-up-kick-down procurement execs. One need only look at Theresa Metty at Motorola to see the female equivalent of Joel Hackney. Theresa was considered a temperamental problem exec when Mike was there but he backed her. After he left, Motorola let her go and she is now suing them for discrimination. Check out the reports in the Chicago papers.

  3. jayemmay Says:

    The Hackney matter generated the most interest of any item on Mark’s blog. By a huge majority, the view was that Hackney should go. The cynic agreed, but was sure that Hackney would be protected by the CEO. Sure enough that is was happened. Hackney promised he would behave in the future. The question is: Does the leopard change its spots?

  4. BS Says:

    i am not sure you are at liberty to repost a company internal email. Takes away credibility from your otherwise interesting blog.

  5. nicky Says:

    What does Mike Z mean by: “Joel is taking this incident very seriously and will use it to work to become an even better leader”.
    Does it mean that from now on he is going to fight anybody who comes his way and WIN?
    Get serious Mike. If this wouldn’t have been one of your GE pals, he would have been fired with no further reviews!!!
    GET REAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. Mark Evans Says:

    I’m not sure I understand your thinking. My only concern about publishing the e-mail is whether it’s legitimate, which is why I used “apparently”.


  7. ancient_employee Says:

    If we take history as an example, from the accounting scandal spawning a corporate wide push for ethics, the only thing that will come of this will be manditory, Violence Against Women Awareness workshops, where a passing grade will be compulsory.

  8. blogger Says:

    Is it copyrighted by Nortel? If so you are certainly not authorised to reprint it without permission.

  9. Mark Evans Says:

    Why would it be copyrighted by Nortel? Can you copyright protect an e-mail message?

  10. Mark G Says:

    Fascinating argument… the ‘BS’ person or ‘blogger’ may have a reasonable concern about the dissemination of corporate information to someone outside of Nortel, but that is the problem of your source – not you.

    An email addressed to every employee is hardly one that could easily claim privacy.

  11. Not Observer Says:

    The interesting thing here is that it is likely a breach of Code of Ethics to distribute a corporate confidential email outside of Nortel.

  12. oneof34kleft Says:

    if this was sent to all ’employees’ maybe, but if the distribution was to all on nt’s mailserver it would have went out to hundreds of contract employees. do they have any loyalty when they use their own pc’s?
    someone needs to post the ethics form and document every employee had to sign

  13. longtime employee Says:

    trust me, it’s verbatim. I received it at 8PM EST 28Feb

  14. Jay Says:

    To be fair to Mark, this was first posted by a Nortel employee in a comment. Mark just brought it up to the front page.

    Mike Z is not so naive (at least I hope) to think that when he sends an email to 30,000 people that the media will never read it.

  15. not_naive_employee Says:

    Clever move from the PR departement to wait with this Zmail until the day, where the restatemnt is announced. So they could be sure it wouldn’t get much attention.

    By the way, this email is a nice example of the pathetic style of the Zmails and other announcements coming from the US/Canada. They always make us Europeans laugh – and the Asians shake their heads.. They sound so ridiculous. It’s always a great laugh to cite a few words from those letters when you’re out with friends.
    Well, this is one of the unresolved challenges of globalised companies. How can you send one email to the entire company but take into account the different cultures? I don’t know. But sending different letters is no solution. How can you then feel like one company?

  16. insider Says:

    If you got wind of some internal account strategies or pricing information from an internal source, would you post it here? I certainly hope not. I’m guessing that many of your readers are Nortel employees. It’s a great place to get aggregated outside views, news and other snippets of info. Our Nortel office loves this blog because we’re based outside of North America and this is the best place to get external Nortel news without the propaganda.

    I agree with the other comments. If Mike Z wanted to make that email a public statement, he would have issued it to the press.

  17. Long Time Nortel Employee Says:

    Thanks Mike….now all of thsese negative wart hogs who have nothing better to do can go to work….

  18. mostly keeping head down Says:

    Hackney the Hatchet…fire him..YES…does it embarrass me YES…does it color Nortel in a bad light…YES…does it make me fear for his wife and child…YES YES YES… the man is known for his temper in the work place…but he has the same cold disregard for his employees as Mike Z…who recently was condemned for his 100million reduction in Nortel pension fund, told the employee he could look elsewhere for work if unhappy…i wonder misery loves company and bad people stick together.

  19. Miles Says:

    The posting of the email – by any Nortel employee – is stupid and unethical according to the agreement we all signed within Nortel. Posting your opinions on current issues is one thing. Copying an internal communication to a blog like this is irresponsible.

    The way the Canadian media completely twists and dramatizes every Nortel news release is bad enough without employees do it as well.
    If you are that dismayed by Nortel – leave. The door always opens outwards.

    Mark – not impressed with you either. I considered this web site top-notch until today.

  20. Observer Says:

    Threats are a common ploy by astoundingly unethical stalking Nortel cheerleaders.

    I suspect the very unethical management surfaces anonymously into message boards and blogs.

    It wouldn’t be the first time high profilers pulled a stunt like this to pump their message and I couldn’t think of any finer example with motive than Nortel’s management.

    All they need is exposure to inhibit such activity to chalk up yet another =)

    heh, BS, what a fitting name… LOL

  21. Mark Evans Says:

    Not sure why posting the e-mail, which had already been posted as a comment, was so disappointing.

  22. anonymous Says:

    A lot of noise… Sorry guys I prefer to keep focused on business and try to make that company better. That’s what I am paid for, BTW. I can understand people get dissatisfed and let it out there, but would Nortel’s ruin be good to anybody ? For sure not to employees, their families, stakeholders, nor even competitors. So keep havong fun because obviously you all have a very good sense of humour -), but keep it also under control if you can -)

  23. another Nortel employee Says:

    My rant…

    It is funny how this particular article changed direction (in the comments) away from Hackney and towards the Employee who attached the email, the copyright and his Ethics. HA HA! Typical Nortel distractions, point out the negatives of something else rather than the subject at hand.

    Then they mention the ethics of the person who would do such a thing. Hello! What about the ethics of whom the article is written. Nortel’s ethics have some good points, but the one part about not getting a second job without first asking permission…lol, whatever. If we could get a raise once in awhile we wouldht have to have a second job. All the $$ seem to go to the upper management and their Code of Ethics are different than the rest of ours.

    Then the whiney a$$ Europeans comment about how the emails are not taking into effect the different cultures? Im not sure what the means. Nortel is a Canadian company, are the Zmails supposed to be in Chinese? The only reason they are employeed is because they are cheap. GSM and UMTS….what a joke! More work gets done over here in the US and Canada.

    Which brings me to my next point. I know how to save tons of cash for the company. I am not sure i need to explain the US vacation policy or even the work ethics. Everywhere else (even Canada) seem to have a 36 hr work week and comp time. US (sallaried) employees not only work over-time when needed, they dont get paid for it and do not collect ANY comp time unless your Manager does it under the table. Heck, some of the Canadiens take a month off at a time….try getting anything done when your designer is off for a month. Labor is cheaper in Europe, China, India, etc….but there are no work ethics, just people putting in their time.

    i say make the playing field equal, either be more strict on the rest of the world or give the US the same screw off time as everyone else….then maybe our jobs would be a little less stressful.

    Upper management always Blows!!

  24. Miles Says:

    Mark – you knowing allowed a post of what looked very clearly to be an internal Nortel communications – you are the moderator and you made the decision to post.
    We have been dealing very clearly with the question of ethics. You made the decision to re-post the email – for your own gain.

    Your submission to Seeking-Alpha of the “Apparently, this is an internal e-mail” shows that you have now reached the low of the other Canadian Media outlets. Congratulations.

  25. Apple Says:

    A lot of noise… Sorry guys I prefer to keep focused on business and try to make that company better. That’s what I am paid for, BTW. I can understand people get dissatisfied and let it out there, but would Nortel’s ruin be good to anybody ? For sure not to employees, their families, stakeholders, nor even competitors. So keep having fun because obviously you all have a very good sense of humour -), but keep it also under control if you can -)

    It’s not funny when nr2 at Nortel grabs a girl by her face in a parking incident and CFO says that will make JJH stronger and better! /e-mail/ What if she had an hearth attack there?/
    CFO, who did not respect own obligation signed on MOT’s separation agreement sealed will dozen mill dollars.
    It’s not funny when Nortel removes additional $100 mill from the books on top of $3.5 bill in 2003 and $1.5 bill in 2005
    May I ask where is now $5 bill removed from the books so far?
    How many more restatements public has to endure to stop the joke of a public company traded on stock markets?

  26. Joel_joker Says:

    It seems Mike Z is a joker in talking about ethics.

  27. Ottawa Says:

    Interesting situation here.

    Hackney, involved in an incident outside of work accepts a deferred prosecution arrangement that leaves him with no criminal record and no charges against his name. Nortel even do an internal investigation to see if there is any cause for concern as to his behaviour in the workplace. This comes up negative (from Mike Z’s e-mail).

    People want him fired though…..breach of ethical guidelines is the cry!!

    A Nortel employee, in clear breach of confidentiality and ethical guidelines posts an internal e-mail on a public website.

    Should they be fired?? They clearly breached Nortel’s confidentiality and ethic’s policy. Or should they be spared because they are just the ‘little guy’ and Hackney is management and so we should hold him to a different standard than we hold ourselves??


  28. R&D employee-borrowed time Says:

    Mark, the point is if you advertise you will be filtering posts and follow through as you have done in the past with yahoo nortel-haters; the original post containing the zmail should have also been filtered from this site if you agree it was meant for nortel employees only. This is the source of disappointment in my opinion as most people would consider the email confidential.

  29. Apple Says:

    Mark can you correct
    not CFO but CEO

  30. A Different Miles Says:


    Wow! Wipe the brown off your nose, bud! Man, people are supposed to just suck it up and stay quiet when Hackney, who goes around giving company talks about ethics, shows his true colors? Talk about being unimpressive..what a weasel!!

  31. nortel employee Says:

    I am sickened with the email. Its just words, Mike Z lowered the bar. I will be looking for another job. I have had enough!!!

  32. Zero Tolerance Says:

    Credibility and respect has been lost amongst employees, customers, and stakeholders, in what would otherwise be a well-respected executive leadership position, after he “admitted to assault on a female, communicating threats, and false imprisonment, all misdemeanor charges.”

    The CEO should have taken the right action and enforce – without personal bias – his own “zero tolerance” policy and requested his immediate resignation. I shall personally remember his egregious act towards a 21-year-old woman – and threats to her other female passengers – on International Women’s Day 8 March. His actions – which speak louder than words or well-crafted emails – lead one to believe that he is not a leader but rather a coward, exerting and wielding his self-inflated power and influence on the less strong and more vulnerable.

    His industry and executive experience is relatively thin with previous positions being only at GE. And his actions appear to indicate an immature individual; an aggressor, prone to anger and first-mover physical violence when crossed.

  33. many Says:

    Anonymous, you have a *very tough* row to hoe.

    There are so many people that are simply disgusted w/nortel out in the customer base that nortel cannot get taken seriously. Honestly I am sorry. I have good friends there that I would not wish harm in any way, but that said; nortel mis-management has brought this whole fiasco down upon themselves and continues to pathetically screw up. Upper management like the jolly “Mike Z” continue to rape the company for large and undeserved financial packages (how honest was Mike Z when he signed paper agreeing not to work for a competitor when he left Motorola? Who paid to get him out of that lie?)

    The best advice I could give you is *RUN AWAY*

    I would bet that the ratio of VPs to front line employees has not changed over the past seven years. I would bet that the same fiefdoms exist in professional services, development and support. I would bet that the same people are reporting revenues and the same development skunkworks are in full bloom. I would bet that the same backroom deals are going on and that no one knows what project their time is really being charged to.

    BTW what happened to all of those restatements where revenue was recognized in the wrong year? Where exactly did that money go? How come it was not recognized in the folowing years? Could it be that nortel never got paid and the money never existed? I think it was no accident that the Admrial commanded a submarine.

    Best thing that could happen is to break the company up and sell off the pieces, that might finally pull the inbred management corruption out by the roots.

  34. Miles Says:

    My point on this issue is:
    – Joel deserves what he got and his action are pathetic
    – Mike Z had a tough decision to make on this. He decided to keep Joel because even though he is abrasive and demanding, his “leadership” (if that word applies) is getting results wrt the business direction.
    – I am sure we would all love to know what the Ethics Board review came up with. Without knowing that, we are all guessing he got off without a slap.
    – the posting of the internal email by a Nortel employee was irresponsible and violates the same Ethics guidelines you are all stating Mike Z should be using to fire Joel. Don’t you see the hypocrisy in that?
    – Mark is not running this blog for us Nortel interested folks…he is running the blog for his gain and growth as a journalist. Whatever you post here can be used for his purposes – and his allowing the email to be posted, then creating a new blog entry and pushing it to other media streams just proves my point.

    If you are a Nortel employee (as I am) and would like to stay that way as long as possible, think before you post. If you are a dissatisfied and disgruntled Nortel employee, leave, or wait for the next cull…they will find you. If you are an ex-employee or non-employee…post away…anything you want…that is your right.

  35. qwiy Says:


    One bone to pick with your post: there is no evidence that Joel or Mike or anyone else in Nortel is “delivering results.” 1st, 2nd, 3rd quarter were awful, stock went down to around $2 US ($20 after reverse split). 4th quarter is another restatement, stock had rebounded then dropped again. Until we see some financial numbers that cause shareholder value to increase long term (not just gyrate up and down), Nortel cannot claim to be delivering acceptable results to shareholders like me.

  36. Anonymous Says:

    qwiy – Even if you saw financial numbers that show increasing shareholder value, would you believe them at this point ? What gives you any confidence in any financial statements Nortel puts out ?

  37. qwiy Says:

    The only thing I can believe is the stock price. If it goes up and stays up, then I am happier. As to whether NT’s statements are correct, I will leave that to the SEC to determine. As a shareholder, I just want a good return on my investment and so far, I am not getting it.

  38. Anonymous Says:

    Stock prices don’t necessarily reflect rates of return on investment. In Nortel’s case, I’d say this is especially true since the single largest institutional shareholder is a hedge fund and since it also has been one of the most heavily traded stocks on the NYSE the last 5 years. Given Nortel’s penchant for incorrect financial statements, I’d rather be a bondholder of Nortel at this point than a stockholder.

  39. GWRTP Says:

    Shortly on the heels of this zmail was a Nortel corporate email about International Woman’s Day… obviously just lip service. As a woman, it pisses me off. I’ll celebrate International Woman’s Day when my pay is the same as the men in my group.

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