Ciena's CEO receives entrepreneur award First Marylander to get Ernst and Young honor

November 25, 1997|By Mark Ribbing | Mark Ribbing,SUN STAFF

Patrick Nettles, the president and chief executive officer of Linthicum-based Ciena Corp., has been named Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year by accounting firm Ernst and Young LLP.

It is the first time an executive from Maryland has won the honor in the 11-year history of the awards.

The award is just the latest superlative to come Ciena's way. According to Steven Levy, director of telecommunications research for Salomon Brothers in New York, the company's first-year sales of $194.3 million were the highest for any start-up in history; while the $2.3 billion valuation of its February initial public offering was the highest ever seen for a venture-backed debut.

The company specializes in expanding the capacity of fiber-optic networks. Using a technology called wavelength-division multiplexing, Ciena is able to increase the number of fiber channels in a network from one to 16. Ciena has 850 employees, 800 of them based in Maryland.

Nettles, who had been chief operating officer of Blyth Holdings before joining Ciena in February 1994, said the award does not reflect the collective nature of Ciena's achievement. "This kind of an enterprise is not built by one person, and the one-person aspect of this award is a little uncomfortable," he said. "The way we built this company is with a dedicated group of people who share the entrepreneurial spirit and who share the risk."

"It is people like Patrick Nettles who are the true engines of growth of the American as well as international economies," said Gregory Erickson, director of entrepreneurial services for Ernst and Young, which sponsores the awards program annually.

Nettles was selected by a panel of judges drawn from past Entrepreneur of the Year recipients. The ceremony was held last weekend in Palm Springs, Calif.

Pub Date: 11/25/97

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