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Chief Technology Officer of Ciena

Organization: Ciena

Profession: Chief Technology Officer



Stephen B. Alexander is head of technology for Ciena, but Stephen Alexander says the company focuses more on people—both members of the Ciena team and the customers they serve—than product.

“Over the years, we’ve become more and more about the people who our technology touches,” he says. “We’re fact-based and analysis-based, sure. But we’re also relationship-based and customer-oriented.”

The Ciena story, says its Chief Technology Officer, is about creating the capacity and the connections that enable people to communicate.

“Communication is good for people and good for society. At Ciena, one of our specialties is making network capacity abundant. That makes everyone’s communication experience better.”

When asked to describe Ciena’s role in the telecom landscape, he compares it to the circulatory system delivering nutrients throughout the human body. “At a high level, we make the internet experience richer; we make it go faster and make it go farther.”


Steve earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Electrical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology.


He honed his skills and launched his career at MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory, which develops advanced technologies for the U.S. Department of Defense.

In 1994 he joined Ciena, a start-up at the time, as one of its first employees. Before rising to CTO, Steve managed teams in a variety of areas at Ciena, including Transport and Switching, Data Networking, and Lightwave Systems.

Now he sits on the board of several prominent telecom groups and has won several industry honors, including the IEEE Communications Society Industrial Innovation Award.

When he’s not at Ciena, Steve, who worked in high school at a TV and radio repair shop, enjoys things that get him outside and working with his hands.

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