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Small-town guy makes leap to huge job


Life has carried Marty Webb, vice president of benefits at AT&T Inc., a long way from a small Missouri town to the Dallas skyscraper where he now works.

Mr. Webb, 57, grew up in Jasper, Missouri, a farming community with a population of less than 1,000.

“My dad was a third-generation hardware store owner” and “it was clear that there was no future in that business,” Mr. Webb said.

Mr. Webb also was not satisfied with the idea of only a high school education.

“I always wanted to go to college, even as a youngster, and (my parents) knew that. So no, I was never really pushed into the business at all. In fact, I think they knew I wanted to do something different, so they were always very encouraging.

“I went to college at Missouri State University in Springfield. I thought I wanted to be a lawyer, but didn't have any money, so I thought I would get a job,” said Mr. Webb.

College led directly to the telecommunications industry.

“My first job was at Southwestern Bell (Telephone Co.), and I was actually a computer programmer for a while, so I thought I'd stay awhile, and decided one day that rather than go down the legal path, I'd go down the business path,” Mr. Webb said.

That led to an MBA at St. Louis University and, in turn, to greater opportunities at Southwestern Bell, with Mr. Webb working in areas including billing, investor relations and strategic planning.

“One day I was asked if I would go over to the benefits organization. That was not something that I had necessarily aspired to, but there were great opportunities. At that point in time, we had gone through a number of mergers and we were getting larger as a company,” he said.

Mr. Webb and his wife, Denise, have three children. One son works as a retail store manager for AT&T, while a daughter just graduated from college and another son is still in college.

“I'm pretty much a family guy,” he said. “I just like spending time with my wife and kids when I can.”