Motorola's Warrior sharp as a RAZR

July 25, 2005

BY MICHAEL KRAUSS

Padmasree Warrior may be the most powerful woman in technology in Chicago. Warrior, executive vice president and chief technology officer of Motorola, could also be one of the most powerful women in technology worldwide.

Warrior, 44, controls a $3.2 billion R&D budget and leads a global force of 24,000 Motorola engineers. She's a powerhouse full of visionary ideas.

To borrow a phrase from GE's Jack Welch, Warrior has 4E's and a P. She's energetic. She energizes those around her. She's got edge, and she can execute and get things done. Speaking with Warrior you quickly learn she's passionate about helping Motorola win.

I think Warrior is Motorola CEO Ed Zander's secret weapon. She's an engineer who understands marketing.

"What's wow, what's now"

Today and Tuesday, Zander hosts a global cast of 450 reporters and industry and financial analysts at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont. He'll update these influencers on the state of Motorola.

The stars of the show are Motorola's newest products like the sleek RAZR, a product that helped Motorola earn $933 million in the quarter ending June 30 compared to a loss of $203 million in the comparable quarter last year. Motorola's share price is near $20 and rising.

There will be sizzle on stage as Motorola unveils "what's wow, what's now." You can expect a celebrity tennis star or two on stage. Last year, Apple founder Steve Jobs made a surprise appearance. This year, observers expect Motorola to roll out its long-awaited iTunes-capable phone. There might be more surprises.

Thanks to Zander and Chief Marketing Officer Geoffrey Frost, Motorola is a world-class marketing dynamo. While Zander is unleashing marketing at Motorola, he's remembering Motorola's engineering roots. Near Zander's side this week will be Warrior, the CTO who's making Motorola's rejuvenation a reality.

Mind like a RAZR

Warrior has a speaking part, but doesn't crave the spotlight. She'll talk about the potential of Motorola technology and "seamless mobility." She'll describe how Motorola will use mobile technology to help us better control our homes and ease our daily toil.

Warrior is approachable, articulate, attractive and smart. She's got a mind that's as sharp as, well, a RAZR. She has engineering roots -- a master's degree in chemical engineering from Cornell University and a bachelor's in chemical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology in New Delhi. But she's no geek.

Warrior aims to find intersections between hard-core engineering and iconic design.

"That's how the RAZR came about," Warrior says. "It's a cool device." At a Cubs game recently, Warrior looked around and saw fans holding RAZRs. It made her smile.

Of course, Warrior's proud of Motorola's engineering. "RAZR's not just a design marvel. It's an engineering and technology marvel," Warrior says. Ask her why and she'll tell you about RAZR's foldable internal antenna, its miniaturization of components, or its case made of aircraft quality aluminum.

Warrior likes to point out that RAZR was invented here in Chicago. It's the product of urban-living designers and suburban-based engineers. "It couldn't have happened unless we had the cross pollination of ideas and people," Warrior says.

Carlson streamlines, cuts costs

Technology often spreads like weeds. It's a common story in commercial entities and in the public sector. Before Jay Carlson, deputy director of the State of Illinois Bureau of Communications and Computer Services, was hired two years ago, technology management was decentralized.

"The state had 43 different IT organizations," Carlson says. He set to work to measure and cut spending while improving service levels.

By Carlson's estimates, Illinois spent $665 million on computing and telecommunications in fiscal 2003. Through cost controls and consolidation, Carlson reduced spending to $550 million in fiscal 2004. He projects fiscal 2005 spending of $530 million and $510 million in fiscal 2006.

Over 18 months, Carlson invested $40 million on infrastructure improvements and consulting efforts to cut costs.

"The result is a recurring benefit of $155 million annually," Carlson says.

Bits & Bytes

Steve Pazol, CEO of Chicago- based nPhase, hosts a summit on machine-to-machine communication at the Merchandise Mart on Thursday.

Michael Krauss is a Chicago-area tech writer and consultant.

 

 

 ©2005 Marion Consulting Partners