Longtime CEO Jeff Gardner resigned last week, giving way to Tony Thomas. That was a bit of a surprise, since Windstream had just been moving Tony Thomas into the CEO role for its network REIT spinoff. Windstream is still behind the REIT spinoff plan, but now Thomas will be running the overall company and they’ll have to find someone else to take the helm of the REIT.
Perhaps the form the REIT spinoff takes will evolve as well under the new management. Thomas may have bigger plans for the idea than Gardner did, given that he wanted to lead it. Just what those plans turn out to be is a very important piece of where Windstream goes from here, as the company goes about making network investments underlies everything else they do.
Just what prompted the switch at this time is unclear, although Windstream has been spinning its wheels a bit since acquiring PAETEC, Hosted Solutions, and other assets. Last month they announced a 2% headcount haircut, looking to streamline the business a bit. Transforming into a hybrid ILEC/CLEC/cloud provider was never going to be an easy process, and perhaps that just took its toll.
In his comments, outgoing CEO Jeff Gardner said he and the board “agree that a change in perspective is needed in order to accelerate the pace of change within the company and to more effectively respond to the rapidly evolving needs of our customers.” You don’t use ‘change’, ‘accelerate, ‘change’, ‘respond’, and ‘evolve’ all in one sentence unless the current path wasn’t working.
Bob Gunderman, who had been named interim CFO as Thomas moved from CFO to REIT, has been given the job permanently. Meanwhile, David Works moves up from EVP and chief human resources officer to head up the enterprise division. David Redmond will add the SMB to his existing role at the head of the consumer division. And Mike Shippey is getting boosted to president of the carrier division.
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