Ralph de la Vega, Former Top AT&T Exec, to Headline WT’s New Stan Sigman Leadership and Innovation Series Oct. 13 

Chip Chandler

Copy by Chip Chandler, 806-651-2124, [email protected]

 

CANYON, Texas — An influential business executive who rose through the ranks to become one of the top leaders of AT&T will be the inaugural speaker in a new series from the Paul and Virginia Engler College of Business at West Texas A&M University.

Ralph de la Vega, who emigrated from Cuba to the United States as a child before becoming one of the most powerful leaders in American telecommunications, will open the new Stan Sigman Leadership and Innovation Series on Oct. 13.

The series, named for a late alumnus and supporter of WT, was made possible through gifts from Sigman’s former AT&T colleagues, announced in April. The gifts also established the Stan Sigman Scholarship Endowment and the Stan Sigman Endowed Professorship in Business, held by Dr. Jeffry Babb.

“We are honored that Mr. de la Vega will lead the inaugural Stan Sigman Leadership and Innovation Series in honor of Stan Sigman and appreciative of his willingness and eagerness to speak to our students, campus and community,” said Dr. Amjad Abdullat, dean of the Engler College of Business. “Mr. de la Vega’s life story is an inspiration full of lessons about opportunities, motivation and a keen focus on success. Because he was a contemporary of Mr. Sigman, I am certain Mr. de la Vega’s wisdom and perspective will enrich and inspire those who attend.”

The Sigman Leadership and Innovation Series spotlights WT’s commitment to providing a nurturing yet rigorous educational environment for its students, faculty, alumni and communities across the Panhandle, as laid out in the University’s long-term plan, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World. That plan is being fueled by the historic, $125 million One West campaign.

De la Vega will speak about leadership principles learned from and embodied by Sigman and answer questions from the audience at 10 a.m. Oct. 13 in Legacy Hall in the Jack B. Kelley Student Center on the Canyon campus.

He also will take part in a moderated panel discussion with students, faculty and staff at 1:30 p.m. Oct. 13 in the Jenna and Johnny Trotter Lecture Hall inside the Happy State Bank Academic and Research building of the Paul Engler College of Agricultural and Natural Sciences.

“Stan Sigman made everyone around him better,” de la Vega said. “His authentic leadership style motivated people to achieve things they thought to be impossible. I consider working with Stan Sigman the highlight of my career.”

Sigman was a 1970 WT graduate who worked his way up from a job in Southwestern Bell Telephone’s Hereford warehouse to the president and chief executive officer of AT&T Mobility, the nation’s largest wireless provider. He retired in 2007.

Sigman was named a WT’s Distinguished Alumni in 2007. The Stan and Gerry Sigman Foundation made one of the first major donations to the Agricultural Sciences Complex, providing the stimulus to complete the nearly $50 million research and educational facility. In addition, the Foundation established the Stan and Gerry Sigman professorship in Water Resources at WT, held by Dr. Craig Bednarz.

De la Vega, now the founder and chairman of consulting firm The De La Vega Group, is the former vice chairman of AT&T and CEO of Business Solutions & International. Previously, he was President and CEO of AT&T Mobile and Business Solutions, where he had overall responsibility for the company’s wireless and business services operations.

Before that, de la Vega was President and CEO of AT&T Mobility. Under his leadership, AT&T Mobility became one of the world’s leading smartphone and mobile Internet providers and expanded into new growth areas such as connected cars, and home security and automation.

During his career he has held numerous executive positions, including COO of Cingular Wireless and President of BellSouth Latin America. As the COO of Cingular Wireless, Mr. de la Vega was responsible for the integration of AT&T Wireless and Cingular Wireless, following the largest all-cash merger in U.S. history at the time.

In 2009, he published the bestselling book “Obstacles Welcome: Turn Adversity to Advantage in Business and Life.”

Alongside Sigman, de la Vega was instrumental in the industry-shaking AT&T partnership with Apple’s iPhones, which allowed the telecommunications company to be the exclusive carrier of iPhones in the first years they were on the market.

 

About West Texas A&M University

WT is located in Canyon, Texas, on a 342-acre residential campus. Established in 1910, the University has been part of The Texas A&M University System since 1990. WT, a Hispanic Serving Institution since 2016, boasts an enrollment of about 10,000 and offers 60 undergraduate degree programs, 40 master’s degrees and two doctoral degrees. The University is also home to the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, the largest history museum in the state and the home of one of the Southwest’s finest art collections. The Buffaloes are a member of the NCAA Division II Lone Star Conference and offers 14 men’s and women’s athletics programs.

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