HB From a career perspective, after US West was bought by Qwest and you stepped down, what was your game plan? What was going through your mind?
TRUJILLO My game plan was to retire, serve on some board, manage private investments, and enjoy life, because I'd been working ever since I was eight years old. So my game plan was to do what I've seen others do - maybe even take up golf! Physically, I wanted to move to Southern CaliforniTrujillo We owned this home. We liked the climate, the people, the lifestyle.
HB After coming out here, Orange was one of boards you served on, correct?
TRUJILLO Through my contacts, I knew the chairman of France Telecom. When they acquired a significant portion of this company [Orange], they decided to do an IPO and create an independent board of directors, which they needed to do. They had a couple of Europeans. He asked me if I would come on the board. His philosophy was, he wanted to Americanize the board. I said yes, because I knew him. He was a friend.
HB Was that Mr. [Thierry] Breton?
TRUJILLO No, at that time the chairman was Mr. Michael Bon.
HB "Americanize the board." Why? International acquisitions?
TRUJILLO Governance was a big deal in Europe. The structure and strictures of corporate governance were a few years ahead of the U.S. And in some ways, the U.S. was ahead in the sense of how boards engage the policy [of the corporation]. That's why he wanted me there, from my days in the U.S. leading a company, having implemented engaged work practices.
HB With subsequent events at Qwest, do you feel events have proved you right? He [former Qwest CEO Joe Nacchio] has resigned and [four] financial executives are under indictment now.
TRUJILLO No, I chose to retire when I did - and this was all public - because of a difference in values and beliefs and principles. Stories in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today. With the new leadership and ownership structure. As you'll recall, this is a fairly unique ownership structure for a large company like that, where you have one individual owning around 20 percent of the company. I decided it was best that I retire, because I had created a huge amount of value for the investors, employees, everybody there. We had a fairly impressive integration plan we put together before I left.
HB In your comeback story, you've now emerged on the world scene. You're leading a much more global company than US West. How do you think your Hispanic heritage figures into this?
TRUJILLO Let me go back to your statement about a comeback. I don't see this as a comeback in any way because I did what I desired to do career-wise prior to this. Actually, this is pursuing a situation where as a board member, I was asked by the new chairman of France Telecom and the board to take this on, given circumstances, so I agreed to do it.
More importantly, I agreed to do it because we have the opportunity to create a new model for this industry for the next decade. It's going to be fun doing that. So now I'm about doing things fun.
But to your question, Orange is a bigger company than even the merged company between US West and Qwest. In today's market, which in communications has fairly depressed values, it's an $18 billion top-line company with a market cap, depending on the day, of between $35 billion and $40 billion.
It's a huge company, and it operates in 20-plus countries. So it is a world stage, it is a company with a terrific brand. Hopefully, I'll make a difference in the next few years.
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