Sprint names former Visa CCO Michelman to top comms job

The former Visa comms leader has served as partner and head of Finsbury's San Francisco operation since September.

Doug Michelman
Doug Michelman

OVERLAND PARK, KS:  Sprint has appointed Doug Michelman, partner and head of Finsbury’s San Francisco operation, to serve as SVP of corporate communications and CSR, effective December 1.

Michelman, who previously worked at Visa from 2003 to 2014, will report to newly installed Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure. He will succeed Bill White, who has been with Sprint for more than 20 years. White’s next endeavor was not immediately clear.

Michelman’s appointment comes amid a period of upheaval at Sprint after the company called off its bid for T-Mobile US in August.  Since joining the telecoms company three months ago, Claure has undertaken major budget cuts, including layoffs of about 2,000 employees earlier this month. The layoffs are part of an effort to reduce costs by about $1.5 billion next year after Sprint reported a $192 million operating loss and a loss of 272,000 contract wireless subscribers during the third quarter.

As head of comms, Michelman will oversee internal and external communications and CSR, and he will work closely with the government relations, investor relations, and finance teams, he said. He will also collaborate with CMO Jeff Hallock, who reports to Claure as well.

Michelman will move to Kansas City, Missouri at the beginning of 2015 to work from Sprint’s Overland Park, Kansas headquarters, he said.

Speaking to investors earlier this month, Claure had said he was assembling a team of new key executives over the next 60 to 90 days. In his new role, Michelman will focus on leading communications efforts that help reinvigorate growth in the company, he explained.

The opportunity at Sprint was too compelling to turn down, Michelman said. He added that he decided to take the job because "mobile is at the center of the technology world."

"Wireless companies are the ones that enable everyone to talk, shop, work, post, tweet, and chat," Michelman said. "People are living their lives on their mobile devices, and companies like Sprint make that possible."

Michelman took the helm of Finsbury’s newly launched San Francisco office in September. He has served as a senior advisor at the firm since the beginning of this year.

"[Michelman] had a great opportunity and he felt he couldn’t pass it up," Finsbury partner Ed Adler said. "In the last several months we’ve made encouraging progress in establishing our San Francisco office, and we are going to bring in a new partner to lead the office there."

While Finsbury has not yet named a new head of San Francisco, the firm remains committed to the market, Adler said.

Prior to Finsbury, Michelman served as Visa's head of global communications. He stepped down from the role last May following a reorganization of the company’s comms and marketing departments. Visa's global corporate relations department was shifted under marketing at the time, while former CMO Antonio Lucio became chief brand officer. Michelman had previously reported to CEO Joseph Saunders.

Before Visa, Michelman worked at FleishmanHillard from 2000 to 2002, serving as West Coast regional president. He also worked at the Omnicom Group agency from 1988 to 1996, holding roles such as SVP and GM in Los Angeles and SVP and GM in Hong Kong.

Between stints at Fleishman, Michelman worked at Pacific Bell for three years, serving as VP of corporate communications. He also previously worked in Edelman’s New York office as a VP from 1986 to 1987.

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