Verizon reportedly looking for CFO who could become CEO

Verizon’s search for a new CFO is focusing on outsiders who could also transition to become a candidate for the company’s next chief executive officer, according to a Wall Street Journal report Monday.

The carrier is working with advisers on a “CFO Plus” search to hire an executive to improve the company’s business performance while also deepening its bench of potential successors, according to the report, which cited people familiar with the matter.

Verizon did not immediately respond to Fierce’s request for comment.

The WSJ report said that current CEO Hans Vestberg is actively involved in the CFO search along with members of the board. Vestberg also serves as chairman of the board. 

Matt Ellis, who was CFO since 2016, left the company last month. SVP and Controller Tony Skiadas was named CFO while the company searches for a successor.

Executive shuffle

To say there’s been a lot of turmoil in Verizon’s ranks may be the understatement of the year. Late last year, Verizon announced the departure of Manon Brouillette, who was CEO of the consumer group for less than a year. Vestberg took over her duties until the company decided to move Verizon business group CEO Sowmyanarayan Sampath over to head the consumer group.

That's when Kyle Malady shifted from heading the networks and technology segment to become CEO of the business group. Joe Russo, who had been serving as chief network officer, took over Malady’s role as president of Global Networks and Technology.

Vestberg has been Verizon’s CEO since 2018, when he was named as the successor to Lowell McAdam. Previously, Vestberg was CTO and president of global networks at Verizon, a position he took after he was CEO of Ericsson. Vestberg was ousted from Ericsson in 2016 after he was CEO there for about seven years. 

Verizon’s consumer division especially has been under pressure as Verizon has been steadily losing customers. In the first quarter of this year, Verizon reported a loss of 127,000 postpaid phone customers.

During the company’s Q1 2023 earnings call, Vestberg tried to reassure investors that Verizon’s consumer division is heading in the right direction, especially with Sampath in charge, and that they’re all fully aligned on the execution and getting the right customers.