Randall Stephenson
Courtesy of AT&T
United States


Executive Chairman

October 2019 was a dramatic month for the telecom topper, who committed to delaying his retirement for another year after facing down what could have been a formid­able challenge from activist hedge fund Elliott Management. He stepped down as CEO in July 2020 and will remain as executive chairman until January 2021. AT&T has been a very different company for him to operate now that he owns WarnerMedia, as Time Warner has been rechristened upon his $85 billion bet that programming will be a key growth engine for the telco. Stephenson’s thesis is that the coupling of HBO, Warner Bros. and Turner with AT&T’s wireless platform will produce an unparalleled opportunity to serve a mass audience and target ads to them. WarnerMedia is even more important to the telecom after DirecTV, an earlier Stephenson acquisition, declined amid cord-cutting pressures.


  • WarnerMedia
  • DirecTV
  • AT&T


  • University of Oklahoma (OK, USA)
  • University of Central Oklahoma (OK, USA)

Variety Honors

  • 2017 Variety500 Honoree
  • 2018 Variety500 Honoree
  • 2019 Variety500 Honoree
  • Dealmaker's Impact
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What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given in your career?

“Don’t just perform the duties of each job or position. Take apart every job or position you are given. Put it back together so that it’s better than you found it when you are ready to move on to your next assignment.”

What or who inspires you?

“I’m inspired by true leaders. These are the exceptional few willing to risk personal failure to drive not just incremental but step-change improvements. They’re remarkably inquisitive and open to new ideas. And they’re able to get others to go places they wouldn’t go on their own. In the end, leaders make tough decisions that might be unpopular in the short term but are the best for their business and customers in the long run.”

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