Influential Leaders

Jerry Kent

Jerald L. Kent

Washington University in St. Louis, Olin Business School

Technology

Kent began his career as a CPA with Arthur Andersen in 1979, and in 1983 left to head up acquisitions and finance for an upstart cable company, Cencom Cable. He later became CFO of Cencom, which grew by acquisition and eventually served 550,000 customers in the U.S. before being sold in 1991.

After leaving Cencom, Kent cofounded Charter Communications in January 1993. He led Charter to become one of the 10 largest cable operators in the U.S., serving 1.3 million customers. In 1998, Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen acquired Charter. Kent continued as president and CEO, growing Charter to serve more than 7 million customers and making it the nation’s fourth-largest cable company. The company went public in November 1999, in what was then the third-largest IPO in U.S. history. Charter consistently led the industry in superior operating results, and from the IPO until September 2001, the month Kent left, Charter’s was the best-performing public cable stock.

Multichannel News named Kent Executive of the Year in 2011, citing Suddenlink’s performance and his “stellar reputation in the cable community.” In 2012, he was inducted into the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame and received the cable industry’s Distinguished Vanguard Award for Leadership. He was named CED Magazine’s co-person of the year in 2013 and was inducted into The Cable Center Hall of Fame in 2014.

Kent is a recognized entrepreneur and trailblazer in the telecommunications industry with an outstanding track record of delivering superior returns for investors. His success in growing and managing business enterprises and developing management talent are among the world’s best.

“He makes us all look good,” says Gerald Cardinale, a senior partner in Goldman Sachs’ private equity group, the world’s second-biggest private equity firm. “Spreadsheet math is the same for all private equity investors, and there is a ubiquity of information flows. What isn’t as ubiquitous is talented management” (Forbes, July 2012).

Kent and his wife, Judy, launched the Kent Scholars Program in 2009, which awards five partial-to full-tuition annual scholarships to Olin undergraduate students based on financial need and merit. Kent also serves on behalf of a number of organizations including as a Washington University Trustee, a member of the Olin Business School’s National Council, and on the boards of the St. Louis Zoo, The Magic House, St. Louis Children’s Museum, and Kenrick Glennon Seminary.