Comcast bumps CFO Cavanagh up to President

Comcast tapped CFO Mike Cavanagh to become the third President in company history, making it the latest telecom company to tweak its C-suite. Recon Analytics founder Roger Entner told Fierce the move sets Cavanagh up as the “heir apparent” to CEO Brian Roberts, who remains at the helm.

Mike Cavanagh

The operator named Cavanagh as CFO in May 2015, hiring him away from a position as co-COO and co-President of private equity firm The Carlyle Group. Cavanagh will still serve as CFO at Comcast, but his new role will see him work closely with Roberts to manage the business and personnel.

In a statement, Roberts praised Cavanagh as “an outstanding partner,” adding “together we are focused on continuing to create new and exciting opportunities for growth.”

Comcast offered no indication that Roberts plans to retire. However, Entner noted others like Cavanagh were similarly elevated before stepping into the top job. He specifically pointed to T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert, who rose from CMO to COO in 2015 and was appointed President in 2018 before becoming CEO in 2020. Entner held up Charter Communications’ Chris Winfrey as another example. After joining Charter as CFO in 2010, Winfrey was promoted to COO in late 2021 and last month was tapped to assume the role of CEO when current chief Tom Rutledge retires in December.

“Mike certainly looks like the heir apparent here, and this promotion and the expansion of responsibilities underlines that,” Entner stated. “It’s Mike’s job to lose whenever Brian Roberts retires.”

While it’s easy enough to predict what will happen, Entner said it’s a lot more difficult to say when the transition might actually occur. It could be six months from now or six years, he noted.

But Entner said there is one other insight that can be gleaned from Cavanagh’s promotion.

“It shows you how they view the company,” he explained. “Putting a CFO in place [to succeed as CEO] shows you that they’re into the optimizing the financial return over everything else. It says a lot about the state of the industry in general and the way they view themselves. I don’t know if they’re conscious or subconscious decisions. Either way it’s very telling.”

Comcast’s move comes as companies across the telecom industry revamp their leadership. In recent months, Charter, Altice USA, Lumen Technologies and Lumos have all appointed new CEOs.