By Maria Saporta and Ellie Hensley
Upon hearing that AT&T is moving some of its executives out of Atlanta, the Metro Atlanta Chamber has had to shuffle its plans for future leadership.
Glenn Lurie, president and CEO of AT&T Mobility and Consumer Operations, was in line to become chairman of the Metro Atlanta Chamber in 2018. But the chair-elect informed the chamber that he is moving to AT&T’s headquarters in Dallas as part of a decision to move about 300 key AT&T leadership personnel out of Atlanta.
But Metro Atlanta Chamber President Hala Moddelmog proudly described how the Chamber was able to respond to the leadership change in less than 24 hours by securing CEOs to take the chairmanship role for the next two years.
Originally, Russell Stokes, president and CEO of GE Energy Connections, had been scheduled to be the 2019 Chair of the Chamber. Now he has agreed to move up his year as chairman to 2018 to fill the vacancy created by Lurie leaving.
And Moddelmog was able to secure David Abney, the chairman and CEO of UPS, to serve as the Chamber’s chairman in 2019.
“Russell and David represent what we call the ‘Atlanta Way,’” said Jeffrey C. Sprecher, 2017 MAC chair who is also chief executive officer of Intercontinental Exchange and chairman of the New York Stock Exchange. “They are strong corporate and philanthropic leaders with an unwavering commitment to expanding the reach of our vibrant and growing metro Atlanta region.”
Ironically, the Metro Atlanta Chamber embraced Lurie as part of its leadership line-up when his former boss – Ralph de la Vega – was relocated to Dallas. De la Vega initially had been in line to be the MAC chair in 2018, and he has since retired from AT&T.
“As much as we love Glenn and Ralph de la Vega, we are just going to go on with the work,” Moddelmog said in a telephone interview Tuesday afternoon. “I give Ralph and Glenn a lot of credit in helping establish Atlanta as the mobility capital in the United States.”
Atlanta is fortunate to have so many engaged business leaders who have been able to adjust to major leadership shifts, she added. The first move was to get Stokes to move up his leadership year. ThBen she approached Abney, who she had set her eyes on as a potential chair.
“Both knew it would be important to us for this Chamber to not miss a beat. We don’t want to lose any momentum,” said Moddelmog, who said the experience was an example of how Atlanta responds to challenges. “People are ready to step in and help.”
Moddelmog was careful in how she answered a question what local impact the relocation of top AT&T executives from Atlanta to Dallas and other places would have.
“AT&T has been a strong part of the Atlanta and Georgia landscape for over a century, and this week’s news that a few hundred AT&T employees will relocate does not diminish its scope or impact on Atlanta,” Moddelmog said. “In fact, we are glad that thousands of employees will continue to call Atlanta home during what is clearly an exciting time for the company.”
The Metro Atlanta Chamber is focused on starting, growing and recruiting companies to the 29-county metro Atlanta region. It has been promoting the region as an innovation economy with an entrepreneurial culture.
Ellie Hensley is a staff writer with the Atlanta Business Chronicle.