John Stankey, chief strategy officer at AT&T - Meet the 2012 Rising Stars of Wireless

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John Stankey, chief strategy officer at AT&T - Meet the 2012 Rising Stars of WirelessAfter the collapse of AT&T's (NYSE:T) proposed $39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile USA earlier this year, it didn't come as a huge surprise when the company announced that it was implementing some high-level management changes. Key to those changes was the appointment of John Stankey to the newly created position of group president and chief strategy officer at AT&T. 

This is a big role for Stankey, who previously headed the company's business solutions unit. In his new job, the company said he will be responsible for finding future growth opportunities, including corporate development; addressing long-term wireless capacity needs, which likely means hunting for new sources of spectrum; and looking at the best strategic paths for the company's low-growth and non-strategic assets. In other words, much of AT&T's future success will depend on decisions made by Stankey and his team.

As a 27-year veteran of AT&T, Stankey is certainly no stranger to the telecom industry or the business community. Over the past year, he's maintained a fairly high profile by speaking at numerous industry events and investor conferences. He was front-and-center during AT&T's initial LTE market deployment and also was a frequent champion of AT&T's proposed acquisition of T-Mobile.

But being tasked with hunting for new sources of spectrum and figuring out the company's long-term wireless capacity needs is a huge challenge. AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson has said that AT&T lacks options for acquiring more spectrum, particularly if the FCC is not going to allow M&A activity.