Iranian now president of Qwest Communications
The Denver Post
May 4, 1999
A two-month search for a new president of Qwest Communications has ended.
Qwest's find, an Iranian-born, California-reared, 36-year-old telecom
wunderkind, says he aims to help the Denver company revolutionize communication.
The company planned to announce today the appointment of Afshin Mohebbi
as president and chief operating officer. He'll move to Denver and take
charge of Qwest's day-to-day operations by June 1.
Mohebbi comes to Qwest from British Telecommunications, where he heads
the United Kingdom markets division, an $18 billion business unit that
serves 20 million residential customers and 1.5 million businesses in the
United Kingdom. That division alone has 47,000 people - compared with Qwest's
8,000 - and its sales are five times that of the fast-growing Denver company.
Prior to joining BT in 1997, Mohebbi worked at Baby Bell SBC Communications
and at its Pacific Bell unit.
Via telephone Monday, Qwest's Chairman and CEO Joseph Nacchio introduced
Mohebbi as "a West Coast, Silicon Valley type of guy,'' with an extensive
background at two very large telecommunications companies.
High intellect, energy and a successful background are among the characteristics
Nacchio said won Mohebbi the job. Nacchio added that Mohebbialso brings
an understanding of European markets and local phone companies, which will
help Qwest as it builds out its 18,000-mile, high-speed fiber optic network
and pushes next-generation Internet services into businesses and homes.
Nacchio joked that his new "youthful senior executive'' is making
him feel a little old. But while Mohebbi is the youngest managing director
of a division at BT, his experience already rivals the careers of some
Mohebbi spent more than 16 years at SBC and BT and has a master's degree
in business administration and degree in electrical engineering from the
University of California, Irvine.
Born in Iran, he grew up in California and had lived in Northern California
almost 20 years before spending two in Great Britain.
As president and COO, Mohebbi will report to Nacchio and oversee Qwest's
operations, which include network, sales and revenue growth, meeting customer
expectations and coordinating the company's internal divisions.
Nacchio, who remains chairman and CEO, will focus on the company's broader
strategy and overall financial health.
"We've grown so rapidly that I think we need either 48 hours in
a day or two of us at the top of the company,'' Nacchio said.
Nacchio said he interviewed about half dozen candidates for the position.
Qwest announced in late February it would search for a new president as
Nacchio became chairman and CEO. But when Nacchio flew to London to meet
Mohebbi, he was quickly catapulted to the top of the list, Nacchio said.
The goal was "to hire someone who didn't see this as a job change
but saw this as an opportunity to change the industry,'' Nacchio said.
Mohebbi, who was part of BT's push last year to turn telephone lines
into high-capacity Internet access, bubbles with affinity for the telecommunications
industry and the "revolution'' that is taking place in it today.
"You have to make sure you feel comfortable with the company. I
feel comfortable with the company, Qwest being that key player that could
make the change in the revolution we've got going on in the industry,''
Mohebbi said. In fact, he said, Qwest is the only place he wants to be
to help usher in that change.
"It was one of those few calls you get that you can't refuse,''
he said, adding that he'll try to "make a great company a bit greater.''