Shake-up at top may be in future for Qwest
By Andy Vuong, Staff Writer
Thursday, June 14, 2007
Qwest chief executive Dick Notebaert and his top operations
executive, Barry Allen, are on their way out, and former chief
financial officer Oren Shaffer left in April.
More senior Qwest officials will probably follow suit, experts
say, if Notebaert's successor is tapped from outside the
company, as analysts expect.
"A new CEO will kind of go through a period of seeing who he or
she gets along with and works well with," said John Challenger,
chief executive of Chicago-based outplacement firm Challenger,
Gray & Christmas. "There is often some change. But it doesn't
mean wholesale change."
Eight of the 12 executives on Notebaert's senior management team
were recruited to the company after he took over as CEO in June
2002 amid much turmoil. Three others were promoted internally,
and one maintained his current role.
While the new CEO isn't expected to conduct a similar sweep,
because Denver-based Qwest has regained financial stability,
experts say the new leader will likely fill key areas with
"A CEO oftentimes wants to hire to his weakness," said Linda
Nicolai, a partner with executive-search firm the Executive
Alliance Group in Los Angeles. "So if a new CEO is not
particularly good with finance or operations or marketing to
that effect, he may bring in a key lieutenant to shore up that
area for himself."
A deep housecleaning could happen, however, if the new CEO has a
drastically different view for Qwest than Notebaert and is able
to sway the board during the search process.
"If you want to make wholesale changes across an executive
management team, you're definitely going to have to state your
case," Nicolai said.
CEO searches for companies the size of Qwest typically take
three to six months, experts say. Notebaert, who won't retire
until a replacement is found, said Monday he expects the board
to "move quickly."
Challenger said it's unusual for existing CEOs to stick around
during the search because "you see fewer CEOs today who just
outright retire amicably."
After a new CEO is hired, the review of senior management could
"Chemistry is more important than the actual substance and
ability of the person," said Jeremy King, managing partner of
Austin McGregor Executive Search in Virginia. "Having a team
that jells -- that points to a CEO coming in and looking to
their network of executives and lieutenants who have delivered
for them in the past."
Though expected, hiring an outsider to replace Notebaert isn't a
given. Analysts have said Dan Yost, executive vice president of
product, could be a candidate because he is the most visible to
Wall Street among those still on the management team.
Staff writer Andy Vuong can be reached at 303-954-1209 or
Dick Notebaert's senior management team:
Barry Allen, 58, executive vice president of operations,
appointed March 2004*
John Richardson, 62, executive vice president and chief
financial officer, appointed April 2007 **
Richard Baer, 49, executive vice president and general
counsel, appointed 2002
Dan Yost, 58, executive vice president of product and
management, appointed June 2004
Tom Richards, 52, executive vice president of business
markets, appointed April 2005
Paula Kruger, 56, executive vice president of mass
markets, appointed September 2003
Roland Thornton, 55, executive vice president of
wholesale markets, appointed December 2004
Laura Sankey, 42, executive vice president of marketing
and communications, appointed October 2006
Teresa Taylor, 43, executive vice president and chief
human-resources officer, appointed December 2004
Gary Lytle, 63, senior vice president of federal
relations, appointed July 2002
Steve Davis, 54, senior vice president of public policy,
appointed January 2000
David Heller, 47, chief ethics and compliance officer,
appointed December 2002
*Allen is retiring June 29; Robert Tregemba will assume most of
his duties in a new role as executive vice president of network
**Replaced former CFO Oren Shaffer, who retired April 1
Source: Qwest 2006 annual report