Navigating Life Changes; The Journey of a Serial Entrepreneur

Ever wondered what it takes to turn a company around and sell it for $1.8 billion? Join us on the Business Legacy Podcast as we sit down with Dr. Adam Carter, CEO of OpenLight, who shares his incredible journey from the UK to California, navigating the tech industry with giants like HP, Cisco, and Broadcom. Discover the strategic insights and market opportunities that led to the remarkable sale, and learn how Dr. Carter managed to balance the intense demands of his career with family life.

Drawing from his experiences with notable CEOs, he emphasizes the importance of a customer-focused strategy and the delicate balance between listening to customer needs and leading them towards innovative solutions. Don’t miss this insightful discussion filled with personal and professional wisdom from Dr. Adam Carter.


Highlights from this Episode:

  • Career Evolution and Business Success: Dr. Adam Carter, CEO of OpenLight, shares his journey from the UK to key roles at HP, Cisco, and Broadcom. He notably led Aclaro’s turnaround and its $1.8 billion sale to Lamentum, showcasing his market and growth expertise.
  • Transition to Personal Life and Stay-at-Home Dad: After a major career exit, Dr. Carter became a stay-at-home parent, navigating daily routines, family time, and hobbies like cooking and golfing. This period fostered personal growth, health, and fitness, as well as financial adjustments.
  • Balancing Consultancy Work and Family Duties: During his break, extended by COVID, Dr. Carter balanced consulting work with family responsibilities. He advised various companies, including a University of Glasgow startup, sharing his experience while maintaining family support.

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About Dr. Adam: 

Dr. Adam Carter is a semiconductor communications industry veteran, with an impressive, 25-year track record. He has been instrumental in the growth of some of the world’s leading manufacturers of integrated, optical communications systems, optical components, modules and subsystems, and has been involved in several, successful business exits, turnarounds and acquisitions. Dr. Adam Carter was previously Chief Commercial Officer at Foxcon Optical Interconnects. From July 2014 to December 2018, he was a key executive officer in the team which turned Oclaro around from a loss-making, manufacturer of optical products, to its successful sale to Lumentum Holdings for $1.85 billion. Prior to that, Dr. Carter was a senior director and General Manager of Cisco’s Transceiver Module Group, where he led the acquisition of Lightwire; a Silicon Photonics start-up. He has also held strategic marketing and business development roles at Avago Technologies, Agilent Technologies and Hewlett Packard, having started his career as a Process and Device Engineer at BT & D. Dr. Carter holds a B.Sc. Honours in Applied Physics from Portsmouth University and received a Ph.D. from the University of Wales, Cardiff, for his research on reactive plasma etching of III-V semiconductor materials.


Chapters With Long Summaries:

(00:00) Navigating Company Growth and Acquisition

This chapter takes you through the journey of Dr. Adam Carter, CEO of OpenLight, over the past decade. Dr. Carter shares his professional evolution, starting from his early days in the UK and his move to California, working with companies like HP, Cisco, and Broadcom. We explore his critical role in the turnaround and eventual sale of Oclaro to Lumentum for $1.8 billion, emphasizing the strategic advantages and market opportunities that propelled the company forward. Dr. Carter also discusses the personal challenges he faced, including extensive travel and its impact on his family, and how he managed his career post-sale, leading to his current role at OpenLight.

(10:30) Life After Company Exit and Retirement

This chapter explores the transformative journey following a major career exit, focusing on the unique experiences of transitioning from a bustling professional life to an extended period of personal time. We discuss the initial adjustment to not working and the peculiar feeling of seeing money only go out of the bank account. The newfound role as a stay-at-home parent is highlighted, where I embraced family life, handled daily routines, and enjoyed a six-month break that extended due to the COVID pandemic. I share insights on balancing consultancy work with family duties, the intellectual stimulation from engaging with new market segments, and the joy of imparting wisdom to younger teams. Additionally, we explore the personal growth achieved through focusing on health, fitness, and hobbies like cooking and golfing during this period.

(16:50) Building Legacy Through Customer-Focused Innovation

This chapter explores the most gratifying aspects of raising children, focusing on the joy of witnessing their learning and respectfulness. We discuss the unique experience of raising children fluent in Mandarin despite not being of Mandarin origin, and the profound impact it has had on their lives. Transitioning to professional insights, I reflect on the importance of legacy, drawing from my experiences with notable CEOs and emphasizing the value of customer-focused strategy. We also examine the balance between listening to customers and having the conviction to lead them towards innovative solutions, particularly in the context of Openlight’s open model for optical circuit design.

(26:19) Podcast Review and Contact Information

This chapter wraps up with a heartfelt request for listener support. We express our gratitude for tuning into the Legacy Podcast and encourage you to leave a review, no matter the rating, on any platform you prefer. For those interested in learning more about us, our co-hosts, and the Legacy Podcast itself, we direct you to visit our website at Thank you, and we hope you have a wonderful day!

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