Critics cited Owens' lack of telecom equipment experience and limited public-company leadership background as pushing the company to find a long-term CEO replacement. Zafirovski had left Motorola in January after fulfilling his promise to stay with the company for a year after Ed Zander was brought in as CEO. The Macedonia native spent four years at Motorola, starting as the head of the handset business and rising to the company's No. 2 spot in 2002, when predecessor Ed Breen took the CEO job at Tyco ( TYC). Before he joined Motorola, Zafirovski logged 24 years at General Electric ( GE). Though Motorola had some critical stumbles in the all-important handset business under Zafirovski's watch, he is also credited for helping to tighten the organization by trimming businesses, cutting staff and lowering costs. When Chris Galvin, grandson of Motorola's founder, stepped down as CEO in late 2003, Zafirovski was in line for the chief job. But Motorola's board chose Zander instead. "Bill
Owens re-established stability within Nortel and credibility with all its stakeholders. He guided the company in becoming current in its financial reporting and maintained the loyalty of our customers," Nortel Chairman Harry Pearce said in a press release. "Mike can now build for the future on the strong foundation Bill Owens has given us."