Ex-CTOs Stankey and McElfresh take top positions at AT&T

Ex-CTOs Stankey and McElfresh take top positions at AT&T

04 September 2019 | Alan Burkitt-Gray

Cover

Former CTO Jeff McElfresh will take over as CEO of AT&T Communications on the retirement of John Donovan, and another former CTO, John Stankey, is now the heir apparent to Randall Stephenson at the top of the group.

Donovan, head of the telecoms division of AT&T, announced last week that he will retire on 1 August. He is  a former CTO who became CEO of AT&T Communications in 2017, in preparation for the $85 billion takeover of Time Warner.

McElfresh, 48, is currently president of technology and operations, responsible for AT&T’s move to software-defined networks (SDNs) worldwide and to 5G wireless at home in the US. He is also in charge of its cyber security operations and its labs.

Earlier he spent two years in charge of AT&T Mexico and later was head of AT&T’s DirecTV operations in Latin America.

Stephenson said: “He is an accomplished leader with experience across our business – from strategy, technology and network, to marketing, operations and customer experience. This past year, Jeff led the team that won AT&T recognition for having the best, fastest and most reliable wireless network in the country.”

In his new role of president and COO, Stankey is McElfresh’s line manager and is being seen as the likely successor to Stephenson when he takes the decision to retire. Stephenson has been chairman and CEO since 2007 and is now 59.

Stankey (pictured), three years younger than Stephenson, started with a finance degree but has been in many technology roles – chief information officer when the current AT&T was formed when SBC Communications took over the old AT&T in 2005, and later CTO and then chief strategy officer.

He was put in charge of what is now Warner Media when AT&T took over the old Time Warner group – including Warner Bros, HBO and CNN – last year.

Stephenson said: “John is an outstanding executive who has led nearly every area of our business, helped shape our strategy and excelled at operations throughout his career. The board and I look forward to John hitting the ground running in his new role as president and COO.”