Russ McGuire has been blessed to hold executive positions for large and mid-sized corporations over the past 15+ years.
From March 2008 to October 2014, Russ served as Vice President of Corporate Strategy for Sprint, the $30B+ telecom services company. In this role, Russ collaborated with the senior management team to identify and evaluate the greatest external and internal threats and opportunities for the company, consider strategic alternatives, develop the strategic framework, and communicate the strategic direction to key audiences. Russ and his team also coordinated planning activities across operating units to execute that strategic plan.
During this period, Sprint, with the help of Russ’ team, navigated a number of strategic and operational challenges including recovery from the failed Sprint-Nextel merger, achieving the greatest improvement in customer satisfaction across all industries, addressing the growing importance of prepaid services (including the $483M acquisition of Virgin Mobile and the launch of Boost Unlimited), managing the growing dominance of smartphones (and the resulting “open” app economy), fighting a proposed AT&T/T-Mobile merger that would’ve established an overwhelming industry duopoly, acquiring critical spectrum to address growing data demand (including the acquisition of Clearwire with a $14B valuation), and addressing Sprint’s competitively disadvantaged balance sheet and scale position (culminating with the sale of the majority of Sprint to Japan’s SoftBank for $22B).
From November 2003 to March 2008, Russ served as Director of Strategy for Sprint, primarily focused on the business market. During this time, Russ helped shepherd the management of Sprint’s business division through strategic decisions related to major shifts impacting their market including circuit to IP/packet communications, wireline to wireless communications, and the elimination of distinctions between local and long distance (including the RBOC acquisitions of AT&T and MCI).
Russ served as Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer for TeleChoice from March 2000 to March 2002, and then continued on a part-time basis as Chief Strategist until November 2002. In this role, Russ helped dozens of telecom companies, big and small, to understand their unique market opportunities and to translate those opportunities into an actionable strategic framework. Russ led the development of the “Strategy Lab” – a 2 day process for a leadership team to uncover their core strategy, with deep understanding of why it was right, and how to apply it to the company’s most pressing strategic issues. Russ led the TeleChoice team through the Strategy Lab process that resulted in creating the new category of strategic catalysts.
From 1998 to 2000, Russ served as Vice President of Strategic Development for Williams Communications, a division of The Williams Companies. In this role, Russ worked with the senior management team to develop a strategic perspective and roadmap in a dynamic environment. Williams Communications was a new business formed in 1995 out of the remaining telecom assets owned by Williams following the sale of WilTel to LDDS. In 1997, the company began a $multi-billion program to build a new nationwide fiber optic network. In 1999, the company completed the largest initial funding to date of a U.S. telecom company with the completion of an Initial Public Offering and Debt Offering. Russ played a key role in each of these activities, including playing a central role in working with multiple banks and law firms to develop the S-1 filing and roadshow materials for the IPO.
This period also marked tremendous growth and change within the telecom industry. The Internet boom began in 1995 and continued to build until the NASDAQ reached its peak value on March 10, 2000. During this time, demand for Internet capacity was doubling every year. A number of major, well-funded competitors to Williams entered the market at this time, including Qwest, Level 3, and Global Crossing. The Telecom Act of 1996 ushered in an explosion of well-funded new entrants hoping to compete with the Regional Bell Operating Companies (RBOCs), all of whom needed the kind of long-haul capacity that Williams provided, but clearly not all of whom would survive. The Telecom Act of 1996 also established the roadmap for the RBOCs to enter Long Distance, requiring partnerships with long-haul carriers, such as Williams. Williams entered into a number of strategic partnerships, most notably with SBC and TelMex. Prior to the expiration of Williams’ non-compete agreement with WorldCom (the combined WilTel-LDDS) on January 5, 1998, the company pursued a variety of “multi-media” businesses (Vyvx, Williams Learning Network, WilTel Internet Services). Following that date, the company could pursue a broadened set of activities. In this dynamic environment, Russ led the development of a coherent strategy that leveraged the company’s assets and capabilities, set a path through the minefield of change, and captured the most significant opportunities to create tremendous value for stakeholders.
Russ served as director of strategic development for WilTel Communications from 1996 to 1998. WilTel was one of the largest distributors of corporate telecommunications equipment in the world. While the company had traditionally sold legacy voice gear (e.g. as the largest distributor of Nortel PBXes), Russ and his team led the development of advanced solutions especially enabling corporate customers to capture the power and manage the danger of the Internet. Russ also directed WilTel’s Computer Telephony Integration Lab which helped many customers automate their call center operations.
Russ joined WilTel Communications in 1995 when he and his partners sold their Internet startup, Digital Frontiers to WilTel. You can read more about Digital Frontiers in the Entrepreneur section of this site. Prior to co-founding Digital Frontiers, Russ had briefly served as Manager of New Product Concepts for WorldCom. He had served in the same role at WilTel before that company was acquired by LDDS to form the new WorldCom. Russ started at WilTel in 1989 developing software to manage telecom networks. His telecom career began in 1987 as a Software Engineer for Northern Telecom.
While on the path to receiving his BSEE degree from Virginia Tech, Russ worked several school breaks developing software for defense contractor Delex Systems. He also spent a summer in Finland developing software for Alnor, Oy which provided safety solutions for the nuclear power industry.