James Olson effectively helped AT&T get back into stable conditions during his brief tenure as the CEO of AT&T. He is considered one of the last of his generations as a CEO, this being due to the fact he spent his entire working career, a span of 46 years, working his way up AT&T’s chain of command.
Mr. Olson became an AT&T executive vice president in 1977 and was elected vice chairman in 1979. He became the chairman and chief executive of AT&T Technologies in 1984 and the president and chief operating officer the following year. He was elected chairman in September 1986.