John Heslip, AT&T Broadband's well-liked and respected vice president of network implementation, left the company last Friday (April 13) following five years serving the MSO and predecessor Tele-Communications Inc.
AT&T Broadband executive vice president of broadband services and CTO Greg Braden shared that news with company employees in an April 6 memo obtained by Multichannel News.
Heslip's departure is the latest in a string of moves that has built the MSO's Broadband Services division, which Braden heads. That division includes three AT&T Broadband businesses — telephony, high-speed data and new product development — as well as the company's engineering function.
The move also affects the technical brain trust first formed at TCI. For example, Tony Werner, AT&T Broadband's previous CTO, left in October to helm Aurora Networks. Jim Wood, the company's former vice president of advanced technology, resigned earlier this year.
A number of former TCI engineering executives remain key players on Braden's team, including senior vice president of advanced broadband services Susan Marshall and vice president of engineering Oleh Sniezko.
Leaving AT&T Broadband "was purely my own decision," Heslip said. "In fact, Mr. Braden tried to talk me out of it."
Heslip was brought in by Werner assigned to upgrade the MSO's networks with respect to the old TCI organization. Most, or about 75 percent, of that work is done, Heslip said.
"We've made some great strides," he said. "We had run rates of 300,000 to 400,000 homes per month. I think we're essentially done. Now it's time for me to move on and do something different."
What that will be is yet to be determined. Heslip said he is weighing a number of opportunities and should have something finalized in the next eight to 12 weeks.
Though it's still hazy as to where Heslip will resurface, he is a well-liked figure within the vendor community.
"Of the top-level executives, [Heslip] was one of the most accessible as far as returning phone calls, agreeing to meetings and actually showing up to those meetings," said a vendor who had direct contact with Heslip during his tenure at AT&T Broadband. "He was very open and very dependable from a vendor perspective."
Anthony Bowling — Heslip's former direct report and vice president of hub engineering — will succeed him. Like Braden, Bowling has previous experience at U S West (now part of Qwest Communications International Inc.) and MediaOne Group Inc. (now part of AT&T Broadband).
"Anthony is probably one of the best professionals I've ever worked with," Heslip said. "His experience is extremely in line with what requirements we have with this company. I think he'll be a natural fit to take over."
Bowling spearheaded MediaOne's cable-telephony projects in Atlanta, Ga. and Jacksonville, Fla., and directed regional operations for MediaOne's broadband plant upgrades in Florida, Virginia and New York, which had roughly 1 million subscribers and about 1.6 million homes passed. Bowling also has past ties to parent AT&T Corp. — he served as regional division business manager for the company's local services division in the mid-1990s.
In his new role, Bowling will handle market rebuilds and upgrades for the nation's largest MSO.
Bowling is "a rising star" at AT&T Broadband, said a vendor source.
"He's quickly becoming, if he isn't already, part of Greg Braden's inner circle," said the vendor. "It's a direct reflection of the kind of people that Greg Braden likes to surround him with and the culture that he's familiar and comfortable with."