Telefónica as seen by Sergio de la Calle, Programme Director & Faculty at Universitas

Meet Sergio de la Calle, Programme Director & Faculty at Universitas. Discover his personal and professional vision of the company.

Meet Sergio de la Calle, Chief People Officer.
Sergio de la Calle

Sergio de la Calle

Reading time: 5 min

How long have you been with Telefónica and what is your assessment of your time here?  

Longer than I thought when I joined, 25 years in total.  Some people find it hard to understand why, being a restless ass, I’ve been here so long. Why not explore the option of a change for the better?  

It’s not that hard to understand. The Group is very large and diverse…I have been in 4 group companies and would like to experience a 5th and even a 6th. After so much, I have of course assessed the market on occasion, the last time I did it seriously was in 2014, after a project that didn’t go as I had hoped.  

I realised that there were three things that were hard to beat: the competitive conditions, the very innovative projects and the very very competent team, full of talent and diversity.  

 That year I decided to continue to grow WITHIN the company.  

Last week I received the Centenary certificate in my inbox and I was glad about that 2014 decision.  

Is there any project at Telefónica that you are particularly satisfied with or proud of?  

I would say almost all of them. I have a particularly fond memory of my early years because in the late 90s the mobile business was growing like crazy and we were hiring people every month. I was in charge of the new employee welcome programme and it was a very sweet time.  

I also enjoyed my first years leading a team, from 2007 to 2012 in Spain and I keep in touch with some of them, even those who left Telefónica. There I learned that there is no greater privilege in an organisation than to have the development of a group of people put in your hands. That, for me, is leadership.   

Now, in Universitas, I am better off than in my arms. And it’s funny… because I didn’t want to go there in 2020! I was interested in another project and for me it was an unexpected surprise. I never imagined that I could get as much out of certain skills as I have in this position. My complementarity with my colleagues Lucia and Juls is also very high. We understand each other and we learn from each other. It’s the perfect example of what they call person/position fit.   

What do you think Telefónica has contributed to society since its inception?  

It is obvious that we are part of the history of the countries in which we operate, especially in Spain, but also in others, even in countries we left, we have left a mark (such as the Czech Republic, where the O2 brand remains and where I have a special fond memory because I participated in the due diligence).  

The obvious thing to say is to talk about our purpose, connecting people, but I would say that we have also left a mark on the way we do business. Telefónica has always been ahead of Compliance. I remember a report I came across ten years ago that talked about the possible impact of infrastructures on health… It was from the early 1970s, decades before there was any alarmism about it. Telefónica had bothered to investigate whether it could have harmful effects without being asked to do so. That’s why I really like the title of the Universitas strategy programme: “Anticipating the unexpected”, as was also the case when the pandemic arrived and found us more prepared than we could have foreseen.   

Where do you see Telefónica in the future?  

As now, at the very heart of the technological revolution. Pumping up the rest of the organisation. And I would like to think that we will be better positioned in the value chain. I think a lot of people don’t see that, without us, the usability of their favourite technology would be much worse.  

And I hope I fucking see it. I’m not as old as I look.   

Could you live without a mobile phone?  

I would say yes. In some ways, I miss the times…before mobile mail. I would say it has multiplied the number of emails. I don’t enjoy multi-channeling either. Having a request come in at the same time via a Teams chat, another via a Whatsapp group and a third via Outlook is a waste of time. I would say we are not using it well.   

But I certainly couldn’t live without the internet. The thing is that connecting from a pc a couple of times a day takes you away from looking at your device every now and then.  

But, well, at the end of the day, the device brings more good than bad.  

Help us solve one of humanity’s great enigmas: the potato omelette… With onion or without onion?  

Is there such a thing as an omelette without onions? If so, are we sure you can call it an “omelette”? I would say no. I think it should be made a serious offence. In other times, it would be grounds for banishment for sure.   

In any case, what you can’t leave out of a potato omelette with or without is two fried chorizo sausages for company, a dollop of mayonnaise and half a loaf of bread.  

Wow, now I’m hungry.  

Nominate another colleague to appear in this section  

You’re putting me on the spot. There are a lot of interesting people in this house.  

I’m leaning towards my compa Susana Diago, also from the People Office. She possesses a skill that Telefónica needs to maximise the full potential of the team; collaboration without limits. She also has two things I envy her: patience and serenity.  

In #Thespanishomelettething tag section we interview Telefónica’s employees on a variety of topics, while trying to solve one of humanity’s greatest dilemmas.

The Spanish omelette ranking

63%

WithOnionists

20%

WithoutOnionists

17%

OtherOnionists

Get into the ranking! We want to know about you – tell us your story!
* This interview is aimed at Telefónica’s employees


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