Edward E. Whitacre Jr. was born in Ennis, Texas and graduated from Texas Tech University in 1964 with a degree in Industrial Engineering. He started work with the Southwestern Bell Telephone Company in 1963 as a facility engineer. From 1982-1985, he headed Southwestern Bell's Kansas Division, leading them through the break-up of the Bell System. In 1988, for his outstanding work and leadership ability, Whitacre was made president and chief operating officer at Southwestern Bell, which later became SBC Communications and finally AT&T Inc. After 17-years as AT&T chairman, CEO, and president, Whitacre announced his retirement in 2007. From there he joined the relaunched General Motors Corporation as chairman and CEO, helping the company to a profit of over $1 billion dollars, putting them in position to repay their 2009 government loan. He stepped down as GM's CEO in 2010.