Lumen names former Microsoft exec Johnson CEO as Storey retires

The telecom industry saw its second CEO transition in as many weeks, with Lumen Technologies announcing former Microsoft and Red Hat executive Kate Johnson will take over for longtime chief Jeff Storey on November 7.

According to her Linkedin profile, Johnson most recently served as President of Microsoft US from mid-2017 to mid-2021, where she led a staff of 10,000 and oversaw growth of the division’s solutions, services and support revenues. Before that, she was EVP and Corporate Officer at GE, where she worked on the company’s software and services solutions. She also helped stand up the sales, marketing and services functions for its GE Digital business.

Johnson’s background includes nearly six years at Oracle, where she was SVP of its North America Technology and Government Consulting business, and a role as VP of Global Services and Strategic Accounts at Red Hat.

The transition comes at a critical junction for Lumen, as it prepares to close the second of two multi-billion-dollar divestitures this year to streamline its business and ramps up work on an expansive residential fiber rollout. Her experience is also notable given Lumen’s recent push to transform itself from a telecom company to a technology company under Storey’s watch. Specifically, it has focused on revamping its physical assets, rolling out a new digital customer experience and stacking new applications and services on top of its infrastructure.

"Kate's appointment and the strategic transition announced today are the culmination of a succession plan that Jeff and the board have been engaged in for the past several years," Lumen Board Chairman T. Michael Glenn said in a statement. "We are confident she is the right leader to take the reins at this important moment in Lumen's history.”

For his part, Storey is retiring after a 40-year career. He has served as Lumen CEO since April 2013, and before that was CEO of Level 3 Communications from April 2013 to November 2017 before that company was bought by CenturyLink.

His exit marks Lumen’s second C-suite transition this year. In March, the operator replaced CFO Neel Dev with former Arrow Electronics executive Chris Stansbury.

Lumen is the second major telecom player to announce a CEO transition this month. Last week, Altice USA tapped longtime Comcast executive Dennis Mathew to take over for Dexter Goei.