Ronald M. Dykes
A Leader in the Telecommunication Industry
Inducted in 2000
Auburn University alumnus Ronald M. Dykes is the chief financial officer at BellSouth Corporation and a prime reason that company became the strongest company to come from AT&T’s divestiture. A 25 billion-dollar business today, BellSouth has 1.5 million shareholders and 88,000 U.S. employees, along with a huge reputation among the world’s financial analysts, resting firmly on Mr. Dykes’s ability. Mr. Dykes studied electrical engineering as an undergraduate, earning his B.S.E.E. degree in 1969. He also holds an M.B.A. degree from Emory University and the MSM degree from Stanford Graduate School of Business where he was a Sloan Fellow.
An Auburn Distinguished Military Graduate, Mr. Dykes joined the army after college, launching his career in telecommunications by excelling in the Signal Officer’s Basic Course. The top graduate, his technological and managerial experience expanded with tactical assignments in Korea and, later, research into gallium arsenide devices as an electrical engineer with the U.S. Electronics Command. In 1971, Mr. Dykes joined Southern Bell in Atlanta, initially as a supervisor of technicians designing and testing, installing and maintaining customer services. Once versed in the operation of civilian local telecommunications, the young manager was given sole responsibility for the company’s services in the Augusta, Georgia, metro area. In 1977, Mr. Dykes was chosen to install a company-wide system to mechanize repair services. Records were still processed manually, and Mr. Dykes would be among the first to integrate the “mini-computer” as an efficient alternative. He completely transformed some 50 Southern Bell repair centers from a manual to a mechanized state, only one example of the engineering enhancements spearheaded by Ron Dykes that have benefited the South with more and better telecommunications technologies.
In engineering circles, it is common knowledge that BellSouth has become a world leader in telecommunications, with interests in every aspect of the industry. What may be less understood is the role Mr. Dykes played in growing the economy of our region. In 1998, the price of BellSouth stock rose 76 percent; over the past five years, the value of the stock increased nearly 2.5 times. Mr. Dykes’s starring role in this success derives from an interest in the business education he first pursued in 1980. Soon after, he was made responsible for departmental financial planning, a routine forecasting role that rapidly grew into an aggressive cost-management role.
As Southern Bell and South Central Bell separated from AT&T during the early 1980s breakup, the old parent company’s strategic financial managers remained in New York. An opportunity for which Mr. Dykes was uniquely suited presented itself. With BellSouth colleagues, he created the financial paradigms to run a Fortune 50 company, the environment of upheaval welcoming an engineer’s creativity. In the mid-1980s, returning from his studies at Stanford, Mr. Dykes was well prepared to lead this prestigious organization. Other achievements loomed, such as the birth of BellSouth’s cellular telephone business, domestic and international, which is changing the world in ways yet unknown. In fact, in this period Mr. Dykes was personally involved in creating businesses that today drive about half of BellSouth’s growth. In 1993, Mr. Dykes became controller for BellSouth, followed two years later by appointment as CFO, responsible for all the firm’s myriad financial matters.
For over 30 years Mr. Dykes has been at the heart of design, development, implementation, and growth of technology in telecommunications. His vision and his grasp of the technical and financial means to achieve it are his true distinction.
Mr. Dykes’s family includes his wife, Anne Gibbons Dykes of Atlanta, and their two sons. His civic commitments have included service as a trustee at Morris Brown College in Atlanta; a director of St. Joseph’s Hospital, Atlanta; member of the Stanford University Alumni Advisory Board; and member of the Auburn University Electrical Engineering Industry Advisory Board.