Aliant cutting 500 jobs

I guess continued downsizing at Aliant is somewhat inevitable because of increasing competition and the fact that decisions are made further and further from the region.  It doesn’t look like any of the senior management there were original NBTelers – or at least any that I recognize.  They say cream rises to the top – if so how come the Helena Cains, the Curtis Howes, the Joe Moshers aren’t running Aliant now – or at least among the top executives?

I still can’t get a good answer for why NBTel didn’t become Telus.  When I was there in the 1990s, Telus (the original version) was just the Alberta incumbent telephone company.  Why did Telus become a national telecom powerhouse and NBTel morph into a small, powerless division within a small regional local service-based telephone company in Atlantic Canada?

This stuff matters.  In the long term scheme of things this stuff matters.  People complain about my strategy to attract global companies and say “look at Irving – look at McCain – look at Ganong – New  Brunswickers can compete anywhere!”.  Those companies were founded generations ago.  I want to know why the most innovative telecom company in Canada in the early 1990s is now a shadow of its former self.   If we can figure that out we may be closer to solving the riddle of economic development in this province.

3 thoughts on “Aliant cutting 500 jobs

  1. I briefly worked at NBTel in the late 90s. They also laid off a lot of management while I was there. They younger employees referred to it as “dinosaur reduction”. The idea was that the older managers still thought like a monopolistic phone company, therefore the company would be more agile if some of them went away.

    The reason they didn’t succeed was that they never took a risk. Their big innovation of the late 90s was all done with joint ventures or separately spun-off companies. Despite all this innovation, they were still burdened by higher-ups that were not technically competent and made some bad decisions. They even had a saying for that: “The air is thinner on the 19th floor”

    All of the young forward thinkers are working with smaller companies in the province. They are the ones taking the risks, but there is little in assistance for these companies as ACOA and BDC are mostly interested in the bigger companies.

  2. How much money did the province invest (or convince the feds to invest) during that time in communications research in NB (i.e. in partnership with NBTel)?

    The people running Telus had an advantage – AB was growing by leaps and bounds due to the energy sector; that attracted investment capital (and leadership talent), providing Telus with investment funds. In NB, the public sector would have had to more directly involved, and NB would have had to push NBTel in that direction. Much in the way that public funds helped develop the east coast offshore gas/oil business.

    Its always the same story – when funds are tight, there is little interest in investing anything in medium to long-term projects. Money tends to go to short-term low wage job creation.

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