Article originally appeared in ABC News news coverage.
Those who have worked closely with Hesse don't doubt he can deliver.
"Dan is a person who is prepared to take risks, but he's not a gunslinger," says Mackey McDonald, CEO of VF Corp. vfc, the world's largest apparel maker. Hesse joined the VF board nine years ago. "He's a very strategic thinker."
Keith Cowan, Sprint's chief strategist, says Hesse's not-so-delicate message to the troops came across loud and clear. "A new sheriff is here," Cowan says. "People have concluded that 'I can either get behind this person or move on.' "
Hesse's eat-or-be-eaten management style got its start at AT&T in the late 1970s. The story of how he joined AT&T says a lot about Hesse's grit.
Back then, AT&T recruited only from Harvard and Wharton. Hesse was attending Cornell, so he didn't even rate a look.
Undeterred, Hesse asked his sister, who lived in Boston, to do him a favor: Go to the Harvard campus and get information about AT&T's summer internship program off the message board, used by recruiters to post opportunities. (This was pre-Internet, remember.) Hesse says he then sat down and wrote the AT&T recruiter a letter.
Hesse got the internship. Thus began his storied, 23-year run with AT&T.