Women in Wireline 2015: U.S. leaders shaping telecom services, innovation, and policy

Sean Buckley, FierceTelecomWelcome to our sixth annual Women in Wireline feature, where FierceTelecom's editors recognize important women executives in the wireline segment of the telecom industry.

Since 2010, FierceTelecom has been honoring top women executives in the wireline segment of the telecom industry (take a look at our 2014 list, 2013 list, 2012 list, 2011 list and 2010 list.)

As has been our tradition over the past five years, we profile women executives who are shaping the telecom industry with new services, driving innovation, and shaping telecom policy.

There's an increasing presence of women in high-level executive roles at the large telcos, vendors, and industry forums. One of the differences with this year's list is that FierceTelecom is looking at the women who provide the greatest "influence" in the wireline segment of the telecom industry. These are women that are driving new technology and business initiatives within the major vendors and service providers. 

It's also worth noting that one of the inevitable trends we have seen with a number of our past honorees is that some have either retired or transitioned out of their top roles at their companies. Maggie Wilderotter stepped down earlier this year from her CEO post, one that was taken over by 25-year company veteran Dan McCarthy. Meanwhile, two key executives at CenturyLink--Karen Puckett, the company's former COO and Diana Gowen, GM of CenturyLink's government division, retired. Meanwhile, Larissa Herda departed tw telecom when Level 3 completed the acquisition of the company. 

That's not to say that companies aren't making an effort to bring more women into the wireline side of the telecom industry. AT&T (NYSE: T) has created its Women of AT&T employee research group that focuses on helping encourage how their women employees' personal and professional goals and to positively effect change in the community.

At the same time, FierceTelecom is also keeping an eye on up-and-coming women in the industry--those who my colleague Sue Marek likes to call the "Women to Watch."

These are the women who may not be as widely known but are powerful players behind the scenes. They are the ones overseeing important business units, heading up smaller, lesser-known companies, or perhaps just new to their role so their influence hasn't yet been tested. We wanted to mention the following women who we think are on the rise in the wireline industry:

  • Stephanie Copeland, president, Zayo's zColo unit--Copeland's star at Zayo has risen quickly since she initially joined Zayo in 2012 as senior vice president of the European Business Unit. A 24-year telecom industry veteran, Copeland was named president of zColo at Zayo Group following the company's acquisition of Latisys, one that increased zColo's proforma annualized revenue by 80 percent to approximately $183 million. 
  • Cecilia K. McKenney, executive vice president and chief customer officer, Frontier--McKenney heads up Frontier's Secure division, which provides various support services such as computer security, cloud backup & sharing, the connected home, identity protection, equipment protection and technical support. Having this element in hand will help Frontier as more of its traditional POTS voice service revenues continue to decline.
  • Jessica Rosenworcel, FCC commissioner--Rosenworcel has been growing her influence as an ardent supporter of key issues including net neutrality and eRate reform. As an advocate of E-rate reform, Rosenworcel promoting programs to get broadband into the hands of more students in the effort to close what is often referred to as the "homework gap."
  • Angie Kronenberg, chief legal counsel, COMPTEL--A former FCC staffer who worked under Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, Kronenberg oversees the regulatory and advocacy issues for COMPTEL. A number of the where she is responsible for include driving advocacy on special access, net neutrality, and copper retirement. Her role will continue to come into the forefront as the FCC moves ahead with its review of special access, an issue that affects both COMPTEL's wireline CLEC and even wireless members like T-Mobile that use wireline facilities for wireless backhaul.

If you feel there are other women in the wireline industry segment who deserve to be recognized for their talents and industry influence, please let us know.--Sean

P.S. Also, stay tuned for FierceWireless' top women in wireless feature.

Women in Wireline 2015: U.S. leaders shaping telecom services, innovation, and policy

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