Verizon began to step up an external search for a new finance chief, setting a goal of appointing an executive who could replace Hans Vestberg as CEO in the future, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported.

The operator has been searching for a long-term successor to Matt Ellis, who left the CFO role in May after seven years and has been temporarily replaced by Tony Skiadas, who was formerly Verizon’s SVP and controller.

WSJ cited sources claiming Verizon has now set its sights on a CFO with the potential to become a candidate for the CEO role alongside being tasked with improving its overall performance.

Verizon is reportedly predominately focused on hiring an outsider, working with executive recruiting and advisory company Spencer Stuart on the process.

Current CEO Vestberg is also involved and there are apparently a number of candidates under consideration.

Verizon announced Ellis’ departure alongside a broader executive reshuffle in March.

The executive turnover means there is a smaller pool of internal candidates considered ready by investors to take the helm of the group once Vestberg departs, WSJ stated.

Vestberg has been CEO since 2018.