Mitel CEO Rich McBee Leaving The UCaaS Star For ‘New Opportunity’

Polycom’s former CEO, Mary McDowell, will take the reins at Mitel.


Longtime Mitel CEO Rich McBee is leaving the unified communications standout to take on a “new opportunity” as he hands over the leadership reins to former Polycom CEO Mary McDowell.

“After more than eight years with Mitel, I’m passing the baton and looking forward to taking on a new opportunity that will be formally announced soon,” said McBee in a LinkedIn post. “Thanks to all of the Mitel employees, partners and customers. What an awesome ride it’s been! Great people and great memories!”

McBee has been president and CEO of Mitel since 2011 and led the company’s strategic transformation from an on-premises-based PBX provider to a Unified-Communications-as-a-Service (UCaaS) and cloud communications leader. He also completed more than a dozen acquisitions and transactions during his tenure. McBee, who has nearly 30 years of executive IT experience, did not indicate where he would be heading next.

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McBee did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Mitel said that McBee has accepted an “executive role” but did not elaborate.

McDowell, Mitel’s new president and CEO, comes from former UCaaS competitor Polycom, where she was CEO from 2016 to 2018 before the company was acquired by Plantronics. Prior to Polycom, McDowell was executive vice president at Nokia, in charge of the company’s $15 billion phone business and overseeing its developer and app store organization.

“Mitel has a storied history of innovation, a trusted brand and a unique ability to meet customers wherever they are on their path to the cloud,” said McDowell in a statement. “I’m excited about the opportunities that lie ahead and eager to work closely with Mitel’s experienced team and network of partners to continue delivering solutions that make communications and collaboration more seamless for our customers.”

McDowell spent 17 years at Compaq Computer from 1986 to 2003, according to her LinkedIn profile, as well as a brief stint at Hewlett Packard. She currently serves as a board member at Autodesk and Informa.

Ottawa, Canada-based Mitel is a leader in cloud communications with 4.7 million users in more than 100 countries, including 1.4 million UCaaS customers.

McBee said the “future is bright for Mitel.”

“Mitel is well-positioned to accelerate the market transition to cloud, and Mary has the deep technology expertise needed to lead the company,” he said.

The unified communications market has seen massive consolidation over the past several years.

Most recently, Avaya evaluated a sale or merger for months but instead opted to create a strategic partnership with RingCentral, which will purchase $125 million in Avaya stock and provide the company with $375 million for future payments and licensing rights. Earlier this year, Mitel was reportedly eyeing a merger with Avaya for between $2.2 billion and $2.4 billion.