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Ralph de la Vega

Stan Sigman Leadership and Innovation Series Inaugural Event

Guest Speaker Ralph de la Vega

October 12-13, 2021

West Texas A&M University
Paul and Virginia Engler College of Business
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.

De la Vega will speak about leadership principles learned from and embodied by Sigman. The two were 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.

“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.”

“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.”

Ralph de la Vega

Schedule

Wednesday Oct. 13

10 a.m.

Public moderated discussion and Q&A

Legacy Hall, Jack B. Kelley Student Center

1:30 p.m.

Panel discussion for WT students, faculty and staff

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

 

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.

 

About Ralph de la Vega

De la Vega arrived in the U.S. at age 10 when his family decided to flee the Fidel Castro dictatorship. Only young Ralph’s papers were in order, so he entered the U.S. alone and stayed with a friend of his aunt until his parents arrived four years later. He took an after-school job of sweeping floors in a garment factory. He earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Florida Atlantic University and, later, an MBA from Northern Illinois University.

Now the founder and chairman of consulting firm The De La Vega Group, he 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.”

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