There are treasurers who win kudos when the
economy is strong and the markets are surging.
Well, that's not so hard. There are treasurers
who manage to excel when simply tough times
would be a relief. Then, there are treasurers like
Edward M. Dwyer. As treasurer of AT&T Corp. since
1997, Dwyer has seen it all with the telecommunica-
tions giant. When he first took charge of the company's
treasury, AT&T was a darling of Wall Street, with a
strong credit rating and a fabled CEO on an acquisi-
tions spree. C. Michael Armstrong was gobbling up a
string of mammoth cable TV properties that were to re-
define AT&T as a broadband supplier of everything
from local phone service to Internet. When that strate-
gy failed and the binge left the long-distance carrier
strapped with debt and teetering, Dwyer was charged
with keeping AT&T solvent as it sold off non-core as-
sets and returned to offering long distance service.
Dwyer entered a new world of credit down-
grades and a jittery–and sometimes outright
hostile–Wall Street.

Now, after having toiled for three years help-
ing to transform the Bedminster, N.J.-based
telecom into a leaner, albeit far smaller, finan-
cial performer with an unburdened balance
sheet, he has a new mission: Cut down the company's re-
liance on the capital markets. "The most important job
that I can do for AT&T, given the uncertainty [in the
telecom sector and the economy], is ensure that we have
financial flexibility so we don't have to make sub-optimal
decisions," the treasurer says. "The credo around here is
liquidity and financial flexibility. Without it, you are at
the mercy of the market."

But Dwyer realized treasury couldn't accomplish that
alone. He and his treasury staff of 36 set out to re-educate
AT&T employees on the need to consider the cash flow
implications of every decision they make. It also meant
taking a hard look at treasury's own efficiency level.
"Over the last three years, AT&T's treasury has been so
focused on transactions and restructuring that we
haven't focused on the blocking and tackling," Dwyer
says. "We are now in the process of looking at processes
like cash management, foreign exchange and derivatives
to make sure we haven't missed anything."

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