Ann Montgomery thrives on "taking chaos and putting
structure to it."
Good thing, too, because as an AT&T Broadband &
Internet Services executive with nine different departments reporting to her, she gets
plenty of practice.
Put simply: Montgomery is the person whom AT&T Corp.
has entrusted with just about anything that "touches" its cable customers.
Whether it's the deployment of billing systems to support
digital, Internet and telephony launches; overseeing call centers with more than 2,000
customer-service representatives; formulating uniform service and safety standards; or
simply deciding when the logo goes on the uniform, Montgomery's touch is everywhere.
"It's operations at its purest level," she said.
Montgomery has moved up through the ranks since joining
Tele-Communications Inc. in 1991, most recently being named the MSO's executive vice
president of fulfillment services and operations.
Predictably, hers has been a pivotal role in smoothing out
the customer-service-related bumps involved in AT&T's marriage with TCI, and it has
earned her a reputation as one of cable's up-and-coming women executives.
Last Wednesday, Montgomery also became the 18th recipient
of Women in Cable & Telecommunications' annual "Woman to Watch Accolade" --
an award presented to mid-to-senior management for "demonstrated leadership
potential" and "dedication to the cable and telecommunications industry."
The award was presented during WICT's Annual Accolades
Breakfast at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers. Previous winners include the
organization's two immediate past presidents, "so [Montgomery] is indeed a woman to
watch," WICT spokesman Jim Flanigan said.
Montgomery's efforts haven't gone unnoticed by the AT&T
"Ann is simply the most efficient, hardest-working,
most dedicated employee in the operations organization," AT&T Broadband chief
operating officer Bill Fitzgerald said. "She has proven that she can move mountains
with this company."
Montgomery's accomplishments have included overseeing TCI's
improved customer service, which, in the past year, has led to the company's
often-maligned systems coming into full compliance with National Cable Television
"That's been a huge step forward for the
customer-service perception of our company," she said.
Montgomery added that TCI often doesn't receive credit for
launching its customer-service initiative long before its merger with AT&T was
"We all wanted to make sure that when that deal
closed, we could all stand proud," Montgomery said. "Well, I'm very proud that
our company put its money where its mouth was."
Part of Montgomery's job is making sure that customer
service melds with other parts of AT&T's operations.
For example, when a new marketing campaign is about to be
launched, Montgomery's crew will ensure that the particulars are correctly fed into
billing systems, and that CSRs are sufficiently acquainted with the details to talk
knowledgeably with customers calling to inquire.
Montgomery also sits on the TCI transition team, where she
works to combine "the best practices" of both AT&T and TCI into a uniform
set of practices that will be used to launch and support new enhanced services.
"That can involve everything from uniform
customer-service standards to what uniforms to order," she added.
She admitted that it hasn't always been easy combining
corporate cultures as divergent as those of AT&T and TCI.
"We spoke a different language a year ago, but we
speak a similar language now," she said. "We've learned a lot from them, and
they've educated us."
Born in Louisville, Ky., Montgomery spent her college years
trying to decide what direction her life would take. At one point, she recalls being six
credits shy of four different degrees.
She began her cable career with American Express Cable
Services Group in Lexington, Ky., where, as a senior-conversion consultant, her
"nomadic" existence once meant spending 26 weeks on the road overseeing the
implementation of a new billing system.
After a stint with CompuLink Cable Assemblies Inc., she
arrived at TCI in 1991, taking over as office manager at the MSO's operations in Boulder,
Colo., and beginning a run that has seen her earn five different promotions.
But even after all of these years, one thing remains
constant, she said.
"There's something about cable that gets in your
blood," Montgomery said. "There are always challenges. In cable, that's the
thing that never stops."