Greater and better international projection of Spain

Nothing is more human than communication and nothing is more important to Telefónica than people.

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José María Álvarez-Pallete

José María Álvarez-Pallete

Reading time: 4 min

If we have been able to move forward, it is because we have done so on the shoulders of giants, carried by men and women who, with their effort, hard work and generous hearts, opened the way for us. Thanks to them we learned that when we connect we are capable of moving forward and achieving extraordinary things. That is how we have come this far at Telefónica and that is how we will continue, because that is what we are at Telefónica: a company of people at the service of people.

Telefónica has completed its first century of life since the days of Ángel Herrera Oria, who humbly claimed ‘to know nothing more about newspapers than at breakfast time’ and ended up running the newspaper for a whopping 22 years and creating the first School of Journalism in Spain with innovative practices based on Pulitzer and Columbia University, a precedent for today’s successful Communication Faculties at CEU.

At Telefónica we have learned that time is the friend of worthwhile companies. And Telefónica is a company that is worthwhile. From its beginnings in 1924, Telefónica took communication to every corner of Spain, turning the desire to serve society into a vocation so that communicating would no longer be a privilege.

Because Telefónica understood from the outset that progress is only progress if it advances everyone without leaving anyone behind. Telefónica saw something that others did not. And it built something extraordinary. Those of us who are here today have the task of imagining a new future and building it. And we are at it.

We were born as a voice company and today we are a data supercomputer. We have honoured the memory of those who have gone before us and Telefónica is once again a company at the technological forefront of its sector, but without ever forgetting what has brought us this far: people and service to people. Telefónica’s centenary is the reward for our passion for people.

The history of Telefónica cannot be explained without understanding the history of Spain. If Telefónica has done incredible things in recent years, it is because our country has done incredible things. In the last 60 years Spain has created an additional GDP equivalent to the economies of the Netherlands and Finland combined. 

We have doubled the active population, more than 8 million women have joined the labour market and the country has increased the number of university students by a factor of 20.  We have also made great progress on social issues. Spain is a world leader in organ donation, health spending per capita has increased 13-fold, our life expectancy has increased by 15 years and is one of the highest, and our health system is internationally recognised.

In Spain, thanks to technology, we have had 16,000 new kilometres of road network since 1960 and our country has 3,400 kilometres of high-speed rail network. And, at the risk of repeating myself, Spain has more fibre optics than Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom or France.

Telefónica, like all other Spanish companies and their people, has contributed to generating employment, wealth and livelihoods at home and abroad, shaping an extraordinary transformation. We are now stronger and better. Telefónica has delivered, is useful and has helped to make Spain stronger and better around the world.

When I was a teenager we celebrated Mariano Haro’s cross country championship, the occasional stage win in cycling and we were used to being knocked out in the quarter finals of the football world cup. My children have grown up watching the exploits of Rafa Nadal, Pau Gasol, Iniesta, Teresa Perales, Carolina Marín, Ruth Beitia, Martín Fiz, Real Madrid, the national football, basketball, handball and tennis teams…

When we have confidence in ourselves, we are not afraid to compete and we give our best. Spain has achieved a feat in 60 years. Our parents bequeathed us a much better Spain than the one they received. Our responsibility is to do the same for our children. Telefónica is prepared to assume that responsibility.

‘Life always gives you two options: the comfortable one and the difficult one. When in doubt, always choose the difficult one, because then you will be sure that it is not comfort that has chosen you’. These words of Adolfo Suárez reflect well what our country and Telefónica have achieved over the last forty years. They have not been easy roads, but they have been worth it.


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