University of Southern California

Managers, Can You Hear Him Now?
Former CEO of Verizon Visits Marshall to Speak on his New Book
March 23, 2012 • by News at Marshall

“Two years ago when I retired I was asked to write a book, and that was the last thing I wanted to do,” said Dennis F. Strigl, former CEO of Verizon Wireless. Instead, he made the project into something more. “I wrote about some contrarian points of view and things you don’t know by attending business school.”

Strigl spent March 6 at the USC Marshall School of Business discussing his non-traditional approaches to management, featured in his book, Managers, Can You Hear Me Now? He had been invited by Professor Thomas Olson of the management and organization department, who regularly recruits representatives from global management consulting firms and their clients to speak in his consulting concentration classes. Strigl talked to Professor Olson’s Strategy and Organization Consulting graduate course about his experience in utilizing consultants and provided guidance to a section of students working on a case-study regarding FCC deliberations on Verizon Wireless’ participation in the next round of wireless spectrum auctions.

In his talk, Strigl noted the primary reasons managers don’t advance are sometimes the most obvious including focusing on the wrong objectives, befriending the people they work with and becoming hung up on one’s own self importance.

“Only four things are important: growing revenue, keeping [existing] customers, getting new customers and cutting costs,” Strigl said. “If in the course of the day you find yourself not doing one or more of those things, you need to change what you’re doing.”

Strigl’s no-nonsense approach to management has a proven track record. Under his watch he brought together the domestic wireless operations of Bell Atlantic, Vodafone AirTouch and GTE to form Verizon Wireless. He grew Verizon Wireless from a regional carrier earning $192 million in 1991, to $62 billion by year end of 2009.

Even with his background in the wireless communications field, Strigl noted that excessive communication is a distraction for managers. He avoids technological distractions like e-mail and text messaging in order to put the focus back on face-to-face interaction in the work place.

“So many managers come to work and do nothing but read email,” Strigl said. “A manager’s job is to be in front of people, helping people do their jobs.”

About the USC Marshall School of Business
Consistently ranked among the nation's premier schools, USC Marshall is internationally recognized for its emphasis on entrepreneurship and innovation, social responsibility and path-breaking research. Located in the heart of Los Angeles, one of the world's leading business centers and the U.S. gateway to the Pacific Rim, Marshall offers its 5,700-plus undergraduate and graduate students a unique world view and impressive global experiential opportunities. With an alumni community spanning 123 countries, USC Marshall students join a worldwide community of thought leaders who are redefining the way business works.