CenturyLink CEO To Retire Earlier Than Expected As Former Level 3 CEO Storey Steps Up


CenturyLink's longtime CEO, Glen Post, is retiring earlier than planned. Jeff Storey, CenturyLink's president and chief operating officer, will succeed Post as CEO.

CenturyLink Tuesday said Post plans on stepping down the day of the Monroe, La.-based carrier's annual shareholder meeting in May, nearly eight months earlier than his planned retirement date of Jan. 1, 2019.

Post also was slated to become chairman of CenturyLink's board of directors following his retirement. The 26-year CenturyLink executive said that he won't be taking the chairman's spot but will continue as a board member.

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Instead, Harvey Perry will continue as chairman and Bruce Hanks, a current CenturyLink board member, has been appointed to lead independent director.

"While my original plan was to stay in my role through the end of 2018, [Storey] has more than demonstrated his ability to assume this leadership role and I believe we should make this change sooner than originally planned," Post said in a statement.

CenturyLink has been rolling out leadership changes since last year in anticipation of its merger with Level 3 Communications closing. These appointments, coupled with Post's earlier-than-expected departure, signals that the company is ready to hand the reins over to its new executive team.

"There's no question that Level 3 is taking over this company," according to one CenturyLink channel partner that requested anonymity.

Both CenturyLink and Level 3, prior to the acquisition, had strong channel programs. CenturyLink's soon-to-be CEO is a strong choice to lead the company because one of his goals is to consolidate the number of back-end systems that CenturyLink and its partners are using today as a result of its mergers and acquired technology throughout the years, said Shane Stark, director of vendor and channel relations for Carrier Access, Clive, Iowa.

"[Storey's] ability to run a company really speaks for itself. He's an operations guy, and he's proven that he can run a company from all different levels," Stark said.

A spokesperson for CenturyLink confirmed to CRN that Post is retiring earlier than originally announced because, after working with Storey for the past 18 months, "Post is more confident than ever that [Storey] is the right person to lead CenturyLink in the years to come. Therefore, he decided it was best to retire so [Storey] can begin to lead CenturyLink sooner versus later," the spokesperson said.

Storey served as Level 3's CEO for four years prior to its merger with CenturyLink, a deal that closed during the fourth quarter of 2017. Storey is also a CenturyLink board member.

Post also said in a statement that he won't be assuming the role of chairman of the board to make clear that Storey will be CenturyLink's new leader.

Prior to the close of CenturyLink's Level 3 acquisition, the carrier made a slew of leadership changes, including naming five presidents that are heading up each of the company's new business units.

In the indirect sales segment, John DeLozier, CenturyLink's vice president of the Channel Alliance program, is now splitting the role of channel chief with Level 3's vice president of indirect sales, Garrett Gee.

DeLozier is responsible for the company's top 25 strategic partners globally, which includes its community of master agent partners. Gee is responsible for execution in the field, including sales within CenturyLink's territories, DeLozier told CRN in September.

Partners are still eagerly waiting to see what the "rules of engagement" will be for CenturyLink partners, under the new leadership, Carrier Access' Stark said.

"CenturyLink has some tough decisions to make and as partners throughout the country like or dislike those choices, they'll make changes along the way," he said. "We are hoping for as little disruption as possible."