CenturyLink's unassuming CEO in spotlight after Qwest deal
By Andy Vuong
April 3, 2011
Glen Post CenturyLink (Handout | NA)
Just over a decade ago, then-CenturyTel vice president of operations planning Ken Sprain presented chief executive Glen Post with what he thought would be an "uncomfortable" request.
One of Post's top lieutenants had recently resigned to lead another phone company and asked Sprain to join him for a few days to help analyze the new business.
Post didn't hesitate, giving Sprain his blessing to assist the former executive.
"So I went and spent a week trying to help this former executive get his arms around his new company, and Glen was good with that," said Sprain, who has since retired. "He always had time and concern for the individual employee."
Post leads a
company that's guided by seven "unifying principles," including
fairness, positive attitude, respect and faith — words stamped
on the sidewalk at its headquarters in
"They're not just words to us," said the soft-spoken Post, 58. "They're the foundation of who we are as a company."
CenturyLink last year, the company closed its acquisition of
Denver-based Qwest on Friday. The deal thrusts the low-key Post,
a lifelong northeastern
Among his challenges will be to mesh the differing personalities of a small- town company with those from a more flamboyant culture, where former CEOs such as Dick Notebaert embraced media attention and spent millions of dollars to splash the Qwest name on sports stadiums and arenas.
Behind the scenes
It won't be an easy task, as even in his own backyard, officials say they would like to see Post with a higher-profile public persona.
"He is more of a behind-the-scenes person," Monroe Mayor James Mayo said. "I personally would like to see him more visible in the community."
Post joined CenturyLink in 1976 after
earning his MBA from
"He grew up in the company," said Harvey Perry, non-executive vice chairman of CenturyLink's board of directors. "He has worked in virtually every capacity that you could work in at Century."
Post started in the finance organization and quickly caught the attention of company founder Clarke Williams.
"After I had been there a couple of years, I started working on acquisitions with Mr. Williams," Post said. "I traveled with him some. We analyzed companies and strategies together."
Over the years,
Post has served as treasurer, chief financial officer and chief
operating officer. He was named CEO in 1992 and chairman in
2002, a title he relinquished in July 2009 after CenturyLink's
Business associates and former employees describe Post as sharp, humble and unassuming.
"If you met him
outside of his environment there, you might think he's a regular
guy — he might run a grocery store, a pharmacy or something like
that," said Nick Bruno, president of the
Deal not without challenges
Post has led CenturyLink through numerous
acquisitions since the 1990s. Ten years ago, the company
operated fewer than 2 million landlines. It now serves 15
million phone and 5 million broadband subscribers and employs
47,500, including about 7,500 in
"Glen was very much involved in every detail of every acquisition, both negotiating the acquisition and the financing of the acquisition, which, particularly in the early days, was critical," said Perry, who worked for CenturyLink for 20 years as general counsel and in other roles until retiring in 2003.
Outside of work, Post is an avid duck hunter, going twice a week during the season from mid-November to January.
"He's a great duck hunter, a good shot, calls the ducks well," Perry said.
Post's latest catch in the board room is his largest and may be the riskiest. While the combination will give CenturyLink a national footprint and shave an estimated $625 million in annual operating and investment costs, Qwest was saddled with nearly $12 billion in debt and faced more competition in its markets than CenturyLink sees in its mostly rural territories.
"A lot of people pass judgments on him because he's from little Monroe, La., but he's been a smart player in the telecom world for more than 20 years," said Donna Jaegers, an analyst with D.A. Davidson & Co. "The key question is, by acquiring Qwest, he's acquiring a lot of metro networks that have been starved for (investments). Is he biting off more than he can chew?"
Either way, CenturyLink's growth is in line with the vision founder Clarke Williams, who died in 2002, had for the company, according to his daughter, Carolyn Williams Perry. (Perry's husband is board member Harvey Perry).
She points to an interview in the 1990s in which her father, who she said thought of Post as a son, was asked for his thoughts about the company's growth.
"He said that if he were to die today," she recalled, "there would be no doubt that this company would grow to be as big as possible because of the bright young executives that this company has in place."
Glen Post file
What he does: CenturyLink chief executive
Bachelor's degree in accounting and MBA from
Career: Joined company in 1976, named treasurer in 1984, chief financial officer in 1986, chief operating officer in 1988, CEO in 1992, chairman from 2002 to 2009
Family: Wife Cynthia, three grown sons and eight grandchildren
Interests: Deer and duck hunting, running