Fostering Innovation: For Verizon Communications, Survival and Innovation are Locked in an Equation

By Julie Barker

The company has built two innovation centers, one on each coast, and invests heavily in developing products and what it calls “powerful answers.” “I think that’s what separates us from a lot of our competitors,” says Fran Shammo, CFO of Verizon Communications.

“We have our own labs and do our own designs and development around certain products. But a lot of it is collaborative,” he says. The labs are open to anyone who wants to test software on Verizon’s LTE network. Co-development often follows, as it did in the case of Golden-i, a tablet-based product for firefighters that allows them to view schematics as they move through a building, follow the heat profiles of trapped victims or of fellow firefighters in distress, and “see” someone through a wall. The product, introduced at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show, was conceived by Kopin Corporation to run on Verizon’s 4G LTE network.

Shammo says that Verizon’s strategy to be a leader in innovation requires big capital expenditure investments and is driven by chairman and CEO Lowell McAdam. Last year, $16.6 billion went to CAPEX to support wireless, wireline, and global networks, placing Verizon among the top investors in U.S. technology infrastructure. Speaking broadly of the CFO’s role, Shammo says, “It’s your job to make sure that you can support the strategic initiative. So from a financial perspective, debt perspective, stock, shareholder, everything, it’s your job to make sure you support the chairman’s view of where the company needs to go.”

Fran Shammo and Verizon Support the Next Generation of Finance Executives

By Julie Barker

Education is a big concern of Verizon Communications CFO Fran Shammo. He spearheads with Alan Schwartz of Guggenheim Partners the Governor’s Committee on Scholastic Achievement, a program to mentor New York City inner-city kids.

Within Verizon, he has made sure the financial organization focuses on training promising accounting majors and keeping them. A program he started brings in college sophomores who get two-year internships with six-month rotational assignments while they earn their CPAs or certifications as management accountants, financial planners, or whatever else may be their interest. In order to qualify for the program, the students must agree that they will get certified. The company helps individuals’ efforts with review courses.

Result: “We have a lot of new people with a lot of energy,” says Shammo. A second phase focuses on people who have been in the department for 3 to 10 years, offering them rotational assignments that will allow them gain experience and move up. They, too, are encouraged to go back to school to differentiate themselves with an MBA.

Shammo says that there are now more than 200 people in his finance organization working toward certification.

Fran Shammo, CFO of Verizon Communications, Featured in Latest Issue of CFO Studio Magazine

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 21, 2014

CONTACT
Lorenz Capalad
(732) 868-0000 x118

SOMERSET, NJ — Sometimes the best strategic move is to invest capital in an idea that is outside your company’s comfort zone. As described in the cover story of CFO Studio magazine’s Q4 2014 issue, Francis J. (Fran) Shammo, executive vice president and CFO of Verizon Communications, did exactly that when he worked in the operations side of Verizon, and was presented with an opportunity to develop a new, untried technology platform for digital media and video content delivery. Shammo knew that to develop the platform would take all the capital he could squeeze from his budget. Nevertheless, he decided to fund it. That decision defines Fran Shammo as a highly unusual CFO.

His bet paid off. The big idea is now beginning to earn back its invested capital, and Shammo, after a 25-year career first at the Bell company that became Verizon Wireless and then at Verizon itself, has been promoted to CFO of the $120 billion Verizon Communications. “Technology is changing so fast, you have to look at, ‘Where do you think you’re going to be in two years?’ and ‘Where’s technology going to be in two years?’ And those two things may be very different,” the article quotes Shammo as saying.

Shammo’s current focus is to benchmark Verizon’s Finance department with Finance in world-class organizations. As part of this effort, Verizon’s Finance department has consolidated more than 200 locations, looked closely at processes, and improved the manner in which they have been handled. The results are much better efficiency, savings, and the ability to believe in the “truth” of the data: “We know that what’s coming out [of stored financial data] is absolutely controlled and it’s the one form of the truth,” says Shammo.

CFO Studio Magazine, which is published quarterly by Real Estate Strategies Corporation, will release its Q4 issue, featuring business profiles and strategic advice for New Jersey– and

New York–area CFOs, during the second week of December.

About Verizon

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE, Nasdaq: VZ), headquartered in New York, is a global leader in delivering broadband and other wireless and wireline communications services to consumer, business, government, and wholesale customers. Verizon Wireless operates America’s most reliable wireless network, with more than 106 million retail connections nationwide. Verizon also provides converged communications, information, and entertainment services over America’s most advanced fiber-optic network, and delivers integrated business solutions to customers in more than 150 countries. A Dow 30 company with more than $120 billion in 2013 revenues, Verizon employs a diverse workforce of 178,500.

About CFO Studio

CFO Studio and CFO Studio magazine deploy the best of new and traditional media to promote finance executives as business and strategy thought-leaders. Andrew Zezas is the host of CFO Studio and the Publisher of CFO Studio Magazine.

Visit www.CFOstudio.com to watch interviews with New Jersey area CFOs, with new releases every Thursday morning at 10:00 AM EST!

To read stories that have appeared in CFO Studio Magazine, or for subscriptions and advertising opportunities, visit www.CFOstudio.com.

Funding for CFO Studio and CFO Studio Magazine is provided by Real Estate Strategies Corporation and select advertisers.

Real Estate Strategies Corporation provides corporate real estate advisory and transaction services to CFOs, General Counsels, Management, and corporate Boards in New Jersey and around North America.

www.CFOstudio.com
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www.TheCFOsGuide.com

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