Maggie Wilderotter

Maggie Wilderotter
"Learning isn’t always easy nor success a given. I think of an oyster irritated by a grain of sand, and how that rub of sand and water makes a pearl. That same process can produce great results in business. Adversity and struggle can make great wins happen."
- Maggie Wilderotter

Induction Category:
Business & Labor

Born: 1955

Inducted: 2010

Town: Stamford

Maggie Wilderotter has been at the forefront of the evolving technology boom that has created a global economy and united the world through communication. From the AT&T of her parents' generation to the breakthrough of broadband internet and digital television, she has been a leader in the high-tech industry, eager to explore new opportunities and help bring change to our ever expanding global world. She has led Stamford-based Frontier Communications Corporation (NYSE: FTR) as its CEO since 2004.

Born Mary Agnes Sullivan in Neptune, N.J., she and her three sisters were nurtured in a home where education was seen as the key to success. Her father, an AT&T executive, and her mother, a top real estate agent in the state, impressed upon all four girls that education would give them the freedom and flexibility to accomplish whatever they dreamed.

Maggie took this message seriously (as did her sister Denise Morrisson, currently CEO of Campbell Soup) and enrolled in Holy Cross College in Massachusetts where she graduated with a B.A. in economics and business administration. While a student at Holy Cross, she was open to trying new adventures and learning from every experience. She hosted a radio show and served as the head of sports radio, providing color commentary and play-by-play for basketball, baseball, and hockey games. Her enjoyment behind the microphone was the beginning of her entry into the world of communication.

Upon graduation, she married her childhood sweetheart, Jay Wilderotter, whom she met at a beach club on the Jersey Shore when they were both just 12 years old. When his full-time assignment in the Air Force moved them to Sacramento, Calif., in 1978, she went to work for Cable Data, a software company.  This experience provided an incredible education in the cable industry, then in its infancy. During her 12 years there she worked in accounting, sales, marketing, and finally regional operations.

In 1990, Wilderotter joined McCaw Cellular, a pioneer in wireless communication. When McCaw was sold to AT&T Wireless, she moved to Seattle and remained there for two years as COO for AT&T’s cellular and paging divisions. As the dotcom boom was beginning in the mid-1990s, Wilderotter left AT&T and moved to San Francisco to become CEO of Wink Communication, an interactive television company. In the summer of 1998, Microsoft invested in the company to further the development of interactive TV and integrated Wink’s technology in its early WebTV service. Wilderotter saw this strategic cooperation as a way to accelerate the market for interactive television. Liberty Media acquired Wink in 2002, and Microsoft recruited Wilderotter as a Senior Vice President of Business Strategy. She was tasked with developing the company’s global business strategy, and she remained at Microsoft for just two years, working with intellectual property rights in China and India and encouraged developing countries to use technology for economic and educational progress.

In the fall of 2004, Wilderotter joined Citizens Communication in Stamford, Conn., as President and CEO and in 2006, became Chairman and CEO. She saw the company through its 2008 name change to Frontier Communications and helped it grow into the nation’s largest communications provider focused on rural America. The company serves customers in 27 states with a 100 percent U.S.-based workforce of more than 15,200 employees. She has made hiring military veterans and reservists a company priority.

In addition to her work at Frontier, Wilderotter sits on many boards of directors including those of Xerox, Yahoo!, and Procter and Gamble. Named a “Modern Visionary,” she received the Women in Cable and Telecommunications Foundation’s Outstanding Mentor Award in 1999. She is one of only 20 individuals to receive two Vanguard Awards from the National Cable Television Association, receiving her first in 1989 and the second in 2000. In 2009, 2010 and 2011, Fortune Magazine named Wilderotter as one of its “Fifty Most Powerful Women in Business.” In 2010, President Barack Obama named her Vice Chair of the President’s National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee. In November 2011, The Financial Times named Wilderotter among “The Top 50 Women in World Business.”

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