AT&T Communications is facing a leadership shuffle following the announcement that its current CEO, John Donovan, will be retiring. Mr. Donovan appears to be leaving on good terms with the company, remarking that it has been an honor to lead the company. The executive attributes his decision to leave the company to a desire to spend more time with his family.
The move forces AT&T to search out a new CEO to head its mobile, broadband, and pay-TV efforts. The executive has revealed that he will remain on until the first of October.
Growth and controversy
John Donovan joined AT&T in 2008 as Chief Technology Officer before eventually landing the top leadership job at AT&T's communications division. In that initial role, his position was responsible for overseeing the company's global technology direction and innovation road map. That places Mr. Donovan not only at the helm for some of AT&T's biggest growth and improvements but also some of its more controversial moments.
Among the most prominent of those is AT&T's merger with Time Warner. The move helped bring the total number of users across all AT&T Communications services to over 100 million. A&T also claims the position as the service provider to nearly all business customers in the Fortune 1000.
For end-users, Mr. Donovan's leadership has also meant a steady roll-out of 5G technologies that should become available over the next year — and a more controversial 5GE, which is really just LTE Advanced. The service's launch saw widespread backlash and even a lawsuit from at least one competitor.
Sprint filed its lawsuit, noting that the 5GE icon might mislead customers into believing they are receiving 5G service. 5G is considerably faster with substantially lower latency, with current top rates of up to 2Gbps according to AT&T's tests.
Simultaneously, the executive has been in charge of the company's mobile division through several major employee strikes. He's also been cited mirroring moderately disparaging remarks about at least some of its user base during AT&T's ongoing active "customer cleanup."
Who will fill in the leadership role for AT&T at Donovan's leaving?
Overall, Mr. Donovan has 'continuously innovate and develop their skillsets for the future', according to a statement attributed to AT&T chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson, who says that John Donovan has been a good friend and "a terrific leader."
The company has not divulged any candidates to take Mr. Donovan's place at the helm once the executive has retired. If the company follows how the current CEO moved into the top position, it seems likely that the carrier will look to others in leadership roles at the company.
Before filling the position, which he took in 2017, Mr. Donovan held the title of AT&T's Chief Strategy Officer and Group President – AT&T Technology and Operations. AT&T could look to another employee filling a leadership role in the same division or might look toward others from within the AT&T Communications unit.
Conversely, the company may choose to shuffle things up with John Donovan's departure to put a fresh spin on the business now that it has merged with entertainment giant Time Warner. AT&T indicates that it should have an answer to the question of who will fill Mr. Donovan's shoes "soon."