With just one week on the job, the new CEO of U.S. Cellular says she’s energized by the organization’s associates and ready to continue what John (Jack) Rooney started with the company’s Dynamic Organization structure.
Rooney announced in February that he was retiring after 10 years with the company. He spearheaded the company’s culture, called Dynamic Organization, which systematically puts the customer first. It was the subject of the book “The Pursuit of Something Better” by Dave Esler and Myra Kruger.
Now the new CEO, Mary Dillon, 49, says she’s already receiving email from people in the company in the style that Rooney set up with his “Listen Jack” inbox and she’s toying with the idea of setting up a more formal blog or something on that order.
For now, though, she’s meeting with associates, call center employees and engineers from around the company to get up to speed on the ins and outs of the wireless operator. Dillon comes to the carrier after most recently serving as global chief marketing officer and executive vice president for McDonald’s Corporation, where she was charged with strengthening the brand throughout 118 countries. (A regional CDMA operator, U.S. Cellular offers international travelers two world phones — the BlackBerry Tour 9630 and the HTC Touch Pro 2.)
Marketing is just one piece of the pie for Dillon’s job at U.S. Cellular as it competes against large nationwide brands like Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile USA. While she declines to make any broad statements about the direction U.S. Cellular will take given she’s only been in her position for a week, she’s energized by the environment and in learning mode. “I’m a sponge right now,” she says.
She’s already visited U.S. Cellular’s call center in Knoxville, Tenn., and some of the carrier’s retail stores in the Chicago area, as well as its network operations center in Schaumberg, Ill.
Leading up to her appointment, she’s also met with U.S. Cellular Chairman and TDS President and CEO Ted Carlson; TDS is majority owner of U.S. Cellular and largely owned by the Carlson family. When asked about the industry’s consolidation trend, she makes it clear the Carlsons are very much committed to the wireless business for the long haul, and part of her job is to take the business to the next level of profitable growth.
Dillon is scheduled to attend her first CTIA meeting next week, but like most U.S. consumers today, she’s no stranger to wireless technology. Her device of choice has been a BlackBerry Curve, although her cadre of devices will expand in coming weeks as U.S. Cellular plans to introduce Android devices this summer.
A Chicago native, Dillon also has completed a marathon and two triathlons, and while time doesn’t permit her to train for another event at the moment, she makes time to maintain her personal fitness — and as the mother of four children ranging in age from 20 to 11, it comes in handy, she says, that she doesn’t require a whole lot of sleep.