Motorola CEO talks tech, homeland security

By Lauren Lavelle

Chairman and CEO of Motorola Solutions, Greg Brown, enlightened the Rider community with a talk on April 12 about the company’s role in homeland security throughout its 90-year reign as one of the top telecommunication firms in the world. 

Hosted by the Rebovich Institute for New Jersey Politics, Brown began his discussion by revealing his father, Harris R. Brown, graduated from Rider in 1948. 

“He was hardworking and fiercely proud of Rider,” he said. “I am, in large part, standing here because of him.”

Brown, who has held the position of CEO for 11 years, then informed the audience of Motorola’s accomplishments by traveling back to its roots. 

“Most of you know or think of Motorola when you look at one of these,” Brown said as he displayed an outdated flip phone to the audience. “I bet a lot of you don’t know what [Motorola] does. Motorola invented the cellphone, it invented the pager, it invented cellular wireless infrastructure, it invented many elements of the TV, it invented the first transponder that communicated the first walk on the moon in 1969, and it invented the first car radio.”

According to Brown, though, Motorola’s top invention is often overlooked by the public who tend to favor the technological aspects of the company. 

“I think the best business Motorola is in is not even talked about,” he said. “It’s public safety. [Motorola is] a mission-critical public safety organization.”

He compared Motorola to other popular service providers such as Verizon Communications Inc., AT&T Inc. and Sprint Corp. and stressed that public safety can only maintain its reliability from Motorola’s private network. 

“In public safety, you use a private network because it has to be 100 percent, always on, fully redundant, immediate response with the push of a button,” Brown said. “It is life-or-death, and other networks are not designed that way.”

Motorola also plays a large role in homeland security, something Brown emphasized greatly throughout his presentation. 

“Securing the homeland is not about a Motorola radio, taser, glock or a wall,” he said. “It is much more significant than that. I think you have to understand the interdependency or interconnectivity between outside and inside the U.S.”

Brown said first responders are a crucial part of Motorola’s security efforts and their technology must be kept up to date throughout the changing times. 

“[First responders’ lives] are hours of boredom and moments of terror,” said Brown. “When they’re confronted with a situation, they always say in their behavior, ‘Eyes up, hands free.’ That’s what a police officer needs. So when we think about the deployment of communications, the technology has to be deployed in a way that is eyes-up and hands-free. They have to be able to handle that situation because they’re there alone until backup arrives.”

Motorola is also attempting to keep up with newer forms of communication and social media in its command centers. 

“In the old days, it was just a phone call,” said Brown. “Today, it’s much more complicated. You might get texts, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat [messages]. How does that command center in that [situation] get all that information and then combine it on the scene with incident management with a first responder? We are doing that.”

Former Pennsylvania Gov. Mark Schweiker, who introduced Brown to the audience, respects Motorola’s efforts and commends Brown for his leadership within the company. 

“This is an important enterprise because of the consistency of communications and the reliability of it,” Schweiker said. “[Brown] is someone who, I believe, has the whole assertive leadership mentality, but lives through it in a very compelling way. People do not just like Greg Brown; they follow Greg Brown and work and support the vision of Greg Brown. I think that’s special and a unique quality of our friend and, now, a member of the Rider family.”

Brown concluded his speech with a message for the students in the audience. 

“You’ll all have degrees, and you’ll have this major and that GPA,” he said. “I don’t look at that. I look at attitude, I look at grit, I look if you’ve played the five of clubs. I’d rather hire somebody from Rider than Yale because it tells me more about the person.”

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