The life and career of John Legere, the unconventional T-Mobile CEO who just announced he’s stepping down next year

source
Mandel Ngan/Getty Images

T-Mobile announced Monday that its CEO, John Legere, will be stepping down from his role in May 2020 after over seven years of heading up the mobile service provider.

Legere, 61, is credited with T-Mobile’s growth from struggling company to the third-largest carrier in the US. Since taking over T-Mobile in 2012, Legere has made efforts to overhaul the company’s culture and brand.

Legere is just as well-known for his unconventional demeanor as a tech exec, choosing to frequently wear T-Mobile magenta clothing, littering presentations with curse words, and even riding a Segway around the office. For his role, T-Mobile paid Legere $66.5 million in 2018, making him one of the highest-paid CEOs in the US.

Prior to Legere’s departure from T-Mobile, rumors swirled that he was being considered for the role of CEO of the embattled startup WeWork, which has had a disastrous year and recently lost its chief executive. But Legere denied that rumor, and said he was “never having discussions” with the office-sharing company.

Here’s what you need to know about John Legere, whose reign as T-Mobile CEO will end in May 2020.


John Legere was born in 1958 in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, and was a track star in high school. He reportedly wanted to a be a gym teacher until he found out how little he would get paid, so he decided to study business instead.

source
T-Mobile

Source: Wall Street Journal, CNBC


Legere went on to attend the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. He later got a master’s degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a business degree from Fairleigh Dickinson University.

caption
The University of Massachusetts Amherst campus.
source
UMass Amherst/Facebook

Source: T-Mobile


Legere ran on the UMass track team, and has continued to run through his tenure at T-Mobile. He’s a prolific marathon runner, and is involved with the New York Road Runners running club.

source
T-Mobile

Source: Business Insider, Runner’s World


Legere’s foray into telecom started in 1980 at New England Telephone, a now-defunct company providing service in the Northeast of the US. He joined AT&T in 1983, and spent 15 years at the company serving in a number of senior executive positions.

source
Mandel Ngan/Getty Images

Source: Wall Street Journal, T-Mobile


Legere left his role as AT&T’s president of Asia operations in 1998 and joined Dell, where he served as president of the Asia-Pacific region, and later also of Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

source
Crystal Cox/Business Insider

Source: Irish Times. CNBC


Legere was an established rising tech star by the turn of the 21st century, and was appointed as CEO of Asia Global Crossing, a telecom provider, in 2000. After the CEO of its parent company, Global Crossing, resigned in 2001, Legere switched gears to take over the entire company.

caption
John Legere in November 2001 as CEO of Global Crossing and Asia Global Crossing.
source
Ricky Chung/South China Morning Post via Getty Images

Source: The New York Times, Wall Street Journal


However, tensions brewed at Global Crossing regarding Legere, who was accused of gender discrimination as head of the Asia unit. He was also accused of accepting a hefty severance package when be become the parent company’s CEO.

caption
John Legere (left), then-CEO of Global Crossing, testifying in front of Congress in March 2002.
source
Harry Hamburg/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images

Source: New York Times


Nonetheless. Legere was celebrated for his cost-cutting skills as Global Crossing CEO. Under Legere, the company went from filing for bankruptcy protection in 2002 to being sold for $1.9 billion in 2011.

source
Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

Source: Wall Street Journal


Legere was announced as the new CEO of T-Mobile USA, a subsidiary of German telecom company Deutsche Telekom, in September 2012. Legere was immediately tasked with turning around T-Mobile, a struggling cell provider, with his cost-saving ways.

source
Steve Marcus/Reuters

Source: T-Mobile, Wall Street Journal


Legere branded T-Mobile as an “uncarrier,” a philosophy meant to represent the company’s transformation as hip and cool. Legere told The New York Times that T-Mobile was aiming to serve customers “who want to be a little bit different.”

source
David Becker/Getty Images

Source: New York Times


The company culture rebranding included a new look for Legere, who grew his hair out and donned a more casual look as the T-Mobile CEO. One of his first moves was to reverse a company-wide policy outlawing tattoos and piercings for customer-facing employees in T-Mobile stores.

Source: Business Insider, New York Times


Legere is often seen — both around the office and at business meetings — wearing T-Mobile-branded gear and the recognizable magenta color of the company’s brand.

caption
Legere’s closet.
source
John Legere/T-Mobile

Source: Business Insider


His T-Mobile-branded collection extends beyond t-shirts to pink-lined suits, a Legere plush doll, and a T-Mobile Segway that he’s taken around the office.

Source: Business Insider


Legere also owns a magenta T-Mobile slow cooker, which he uses in the regular cooking livestreams he hosts on his Facebook page. In the series, called “Slow Cooker Sunday,” Legere will film himself putting together a quick meal and respond to viewers’ questions.

source
John Legere/Instagram

Source: Business Insider


Legere is also known for his fiery presentations to T-Mobile employees. He was known for regularly dropping curse words and taking aim at competitors Verizon and AT&T, who he’s referred to as “dumb and dumber,” and “the pricks.”

source
T-Mobile

Source: Fast Company


Like fellow tech CEO Elon Musk, Legere has an active Twitter presence, where he often responds to people tweeting at him, and doesn’t hesitate to pick fights. In 2015, Legere got into a Twitter spat with Donald Trump where they exchanged jabs at each other’s businesses.

source
T-Mobile

Source: Fast Company, CNET


Under Legere, T-Mobile has grown to be the third-largest mobile service provider in the US. He orchestrated the company’s merge with Sprint, which was made official this year. For his work, T-Mobile paid Legere $66.5 million in 2018.

source
Eduardo Munoz/Reuters

Source: AP, Wall Street Journal


While T-Mobile is based in Bellevue, Washington, Legere keeps apartments both on the West Coast and the East Coast, in Manhattan. Legere has two grown daughters from a previous marriage.

source
T-Mobile

Source: Fast Company


T-Mobile announced in November that Legere would be stepping down in May 2020. It’s not clear what Legere’s next venture is, but he quickly shut down rumors he was talking with embattled startup WeWork to become its new CEO. Legere will be replaced in 2020 by Mike Sievert, T-Mobile’s current COO and president.

caption
T-Mobile CEO John Legere, right, and COO Mike Sievert, who will take over the chief officer position in 2020.
source
T-Mobile

Source: Business Insider