Until last year, most Connecticut residents were unfamiliar with Frontier Communications, even though the telecommunications company has operations in 28 states across the nation. When the company purchased much of AT&T’s local operations in Connecticut in a $2 billion deal, they suddenly became a dominant player for residential and businesses customers in their home state. But Frontier, despite its shaky hand-off from AT&T, was, and is, no small player on the national scene. On the latest list of the Fortune 1000 companies, Frontier ranks at #514. They have hovered just above or below #500 in recent years. The company is led by one of only 52 female CEO’s on the list, Maggie Wilderotter. In fact, Wilderotter is half of the only sister act among the 52 – her sister is Campbell’s Soup CEO Denise Morrison, leading one of the nation’s best known brands, #315 on the Fortune 500.
Wilderotter has served as Chief Executive Officer at Frontier since November 2004 and as Chairman of the Board since December 2005. She also served as President until April 2012. The July/August 2013 issue of Chief Executive magazine described her as the “longest-tenured woman CEO of a Fortune 500 company.”
Denise Morrison, the subject of the lead business story in the February 2, 2015 issue of TIME magazine, has led Campbell’s since 2011. The magazine described family dinners when Denise, Maggie and their two younger sisters were growing up, that included discussions led by their father, an executive with AT&T, in which “he taught basic business skills through childhood activities like negotiating over chores and identifying the target market when selling Girl Scout cookies.” He “thought it was important to prepare his daughters for a business world that was growing more open to women,” the magazine reported.
The lessons were well learned. According to Catalyst, which tracks the number of women in corporate America, women currently hold 4.8 percent of Fortune 500 CEO positions and 5.2 percent of Fortune 1000 CEO positions. Wilderotter told TIME: “We grew up in an environment where we would get the highest level of satisfaction from doing things people never expected us to pull off.”
Even as Frontier finds its footing among Connecticut consumers, the company’s has begun to roll out a retail store presence. Frontier opened its second retail outlet in Connecticut, in Norwalk, last month. The location at 2 Washington Street joins one in New London, at 200 State Street. The company is actively pursuing plans to add two more retail stores in Connecticut by April. Primarily geared toward residential customers, the stores are also expected to sell business products later this year. Frontier currently has retail stores in 23 states.
The CEO sisters, 13 months apart in age, “talk passionately about supporting women in the boardroom and the lessons they learnt from their parents which enabled them to be self-confident and have the belief that anything was possible coupled with a focus that getting a good education would give them the freedom and flexibility to do anything they wanted,” reported the business website Footdown in 2012.