Vice President and General Manager, Nortel Knowledge Services
Nortel Networks, Research Triangle Park, N.C.
For Gayle S. Lanier, her father, Harmon Seawell Jr., really knew best. “My father suggested that I become an engineer because where he worked, engineers made all the decisions.
Needless to say, I took his advice and the rest is history,” explains Lanier, who has built an impressive career in technology since graduating from North Carolina State University in 1982 with a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering.
Today, Lanier is vice president of Nortel Knowledge Services, a division of Canada-based Nortel Networks, a global provider of communication technologies. She oversees Nortel’s strategic direction and performance for technical training, documentation and development. Lanier believes, “It is the people around you who make you the person you are.”
In 2005, Lanier led the successful implementation of the European Environmental Initiative, which established Nortel as a leader in environmental stewardship throughout Europe.
In 2007, North Carolina Gov. Michael Easley appointed her to the North Carolina State University Board of Trustees. Last year, she earned the Distinguished Engineering Alumnus Award from NCSU.
Driven by her personal motto “Aspire higher,” Lanier and husband, Dwain, established the Dwain K. and Gayle S. Lanier Endowment at NCSU to help minority students pursuing a degree in engineering.
Earlier this year, Nortel Networks filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Lanier reflected on the situation.
“Whether a challenge adds to or detracts from one’s life is a matter of personal choice,” she says.
“I choose to learn from and grow stronger as a result of the challenges that lie ahead.”