Monday, December 31, 2007

Trey Smith

Trey Smith, who was CTO of Cable and Wireless International back in 2001-2, and my boss there, died of lung cancer in September. I have only recently discovered this as we had not remained in touch.

Trey Smith

Here is the obituary notice from the Rappahannock Times.

"Died September 27, 2007

Theoren P. "Trey" Smith III, 53, of Great Falls, a physicist, died at home Sept. 27. He had lung cancer. Friends may call Oct. 5, from 7 to 9 p.m., at the family home.

Services will be held Oct. 6 at 11 a.m. at Reston Bible Church in Reston. Burial will be in East Aurora, N.Y. Dr. Smith was born Sept. 1, 1954, in Denver, Colo., to Kitty Smith and the late Theoren P.L. Smith. He held a Ph.D. and worked for a science and technology company.

Survivors include his wife, Kathy Smith; three daughters, Kristen, Julia and Kimberly Smith; a son, Theoren Smith; two brothers, Mark Smith and Nate Smith; and a sister, Susan S. Kranz.

Memorials may be sent to Johns Hopkins Medicine, Trey and Kathy Smith Lung Cancer Research Endowment, The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Building, 401 N. Broadway, #121, Baltimore, MD 21231 or online at

Arrangements are by Adams-Green Funeral Home of Herndon."

Trey had been headhunted into C&W from the US Internet company Roadrunner, where he had been CTO. His style was avuncular and 'presidential' in the US executive sense. His public persona was extravert, gregarious and 'in charge' and he looked a million dollars in a smart suit. He was Republican through and through, and had been a navy submariner, of which he was very proud.

What Trey was not good at was the kind of machiavellian corporate politics which some English companies excel in, including C&W. Although appointed CTO, the job in reality was to fix the IT which had been outsourced - in a mess - to IBM. Trey could never accept his de facto role as CIO and fought continuously to acquire the network technology organisation. This was never going to happen.

I was VP for systems architecture reporting into Trey during this period, and along with my colleagues found it was not easy trying to do our jobs against the background of such a bitter turf war. And then as C&W International turned into a slow-motion train wreck, we got to spend most of our time downsizing the Office of Technology from around 2,000 people to less than 300. Not the most pleasant experience of any of our lives.

Trey left C&W before it collapsed into Chapter 11 in 2003, the Office of Technology being abolished. He moved on to various senior roles in the US R&D organisation SAIC, from whence this recent interview (here).

He was a very generous man, and both Clare and myself were shocked to hear of his death.