As the head of AT&T Wireless, Sigman led some noteworthy initiatives. The acquisition of AT&T Wireless was a high stakes gamble, one predicated on the correct assumption that consolidation loomed in the wireless market, so size would be more important in the future. He also worked with Appleï¿¼s Steven Jobs so that AT&T became the exclusive carrier of Appleï¿¼s popular iPhone, a key differentiator in a market where differentiation is becoming harder and harder to find.
So, it was a bit of a surprise that Sigman, who is 60, decided to retire after 42 years at AT&T/SBC/Cingular/AT&T again. Perhaps, others pushed him out the door. His replacement Ralph de la Vega has been viewed as a rising star in the telecom marketplace. He had been mentioned as a possible savior for Sprint, which is on the lookout for a new CEO. de la Vega, who already has Sigmanï¿¼s job, was promoted from group president of the regional telecom and entertainment unit, after previously served as the chief operating officer for AT&T Wireless from 2004 to 2006. While de la Vega has a noteworthy reputation, the move represents a gamble by AT&T, which is replacing a seasoned veteran, whose latest moves have been quite successful.
The management changes underscore the volatile nature of the telecom market where mergers and acquisitions have been common. When an executive with a track record as sound as Sigmanï¿¼s is gets pushed to the side, it raises the question about whether anyoneï¿¼s job in these companies is safe. Also, chances are the de la Vega will push AT&T Mobility in new directions. Can a medium and small business trust him to make the right decision? Time will tell, but the answer to that question is not as clear today as it was Sigman held the title of president and chief executive officer at AT&T Mobility.