The Association of U S West Retirees



Richardson getting ready to take over as Qwest CFO
By Bob Mook
The Denver Business Journal
Friday, March 9, 2007

John Richardson, who will officially succeed Oren Shaffer as the chief financial officer of Qwest Communications International Inc. on April 1, realizes he's got some big shoes to fill.

Shaffer and Qwest CEO Dick Notebaert are credited with saving the Denver-based telecom from the brink of financial ruin.

But the 62-year-old Richardson, who worked with Shaffer at Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. and as senior vice president at Qwest Communications International Inc., shares some similarities with Shaffer.

"Interestingly, we both did an employment engagement survey through Gallup with 32 attributes of management style, and Oren and I actually matched up in many ways," Shaffer said.

An amateur musician who plays both guitar and piano, Richardson grew up in rural Ohio, where he still owns a farm with his sister and visits his 92-year-old mother frequently.

While analysts say Qwest has come a long way from the dark days of the Joe Nacchio era, the company still has challenges -- including relatively flat revenue and increased competition.

Richardson talked to the Denver Business Journal on March 7 about his history and what he faces in his new job.

DBJ:  Since you and Oren [Shaffer] both worked at Goodyear, I would assume you have a history together.

Richardson:  Oren and I worked a lot together in the late 1980s when he was treasurer and subsequently became the chief financial officer.  I was doing all the external reporting for Goodyear and we had a lot of treasury-type activities, asset sales, refinancings and so on at the time.  We had a lot of face time together then.  Then I drifted off -- really at Oren's suggestion -- overseas, in Great Britain which was one of Goodyear's biggest subsidiaries.  Then I came back to the United States to work at the corporate headquarters again.  I had a lot of good experiences with Oren, so we kept connected.

DBJ:  Based on [Shaffer's] career, he seems to place a premium on working overseas.  It sounds like a fun, exotic thing to do, but from a business standpoint, why did he suggest it was a good career move?

Richardson:  Goodyear was one of the first truly global companies.  It was in the early 1900s that Goodyear established a presence overseas.  In order to make sure that you got into senior positions there, it was essential to get there, understand the culture and the idiosyncrasies of business overseas.  Interestingly, many countries are different in their business practices.  It was a great experience because you were outside of corporate headquarters.  You had responsibility for an entire subsidiary.

DBJ:  Did that prepare you to work for a regional telecom company?

Richardson:  (Laughs)  It's interesting.  The tire industry and the telecom industry have the same fundamentals.  It's highly competitive, so to generate a dollar of revenue, you need to be at the top of your game and offer the right products and services.  You have to be focused on your costs.^1429041