Former Executive Chairman and CEO, Telefónica España
Antonio graduated in Economics from the Catholic University in Lisbon and then went to work for the Ministry of Finance in Portugal. He went on to complete an MA in European Economy before deciding that he wanted to study something besides macroeconomics.
“I wanted to move more into the business world, Portugal was about to join the EU and I wanted to pursue a more international career. The INSEAD MBA was a very international programme and it was only one year which was perfect as I wanted to get into business as quickly as possible. When I visited the INSEAD campus and met some of the faculty, my mind was made up – the faculty were inspirational.”
“I had a great year at INSEAD. We were the first January promotion and as there were only about 80 of us, you knew everyone in the promotion.”
“At that time INSEAD was small enough for us to have access to the entire faculty, which was a real bonus. I enjoyed the social side of INSEAD very much and in particular I remember a fantastic boating trip we went on down the Loire and the unforgettable summer ball we had at Vaux-le-Vicomte. I made many great friends at INSEAD and I am still in touch with them today.”
On graduation Antonio joined the McKinsey Madrid office and three years later he and another Alumnus opened the Lisbon office. Antonio rose to become a McKinsey Partner before leaving to join one of his clients, BPI Bank. “I joined to run the retail bank that was formed as part of the Portuguese Banking system privatisation process.”
After seven successful years and having managed several BPI acquisitions, the bank rose to become Portugal’s third largest bank. In 1998 Antonio was approached by Telefónica to become the CEO of Telefónica International to run their international business (mainly in Latin America). In 2002 Antonio was appointed Chairman and CEO of Telefónica Moviles, Telefónica’s spin-off of their wireless assets. “In 2002 we had 30 million customers, but by 2006 we had 100 million with a market capitalisation of €40 billion and listings in both London and New York.”
By 2006, and following the acquisition of O2 in the UK, Telefónica restructured again but this time by region. Antonio became CEO of Telefónica España, a business that encompassed both wireless and wire-line and equated to more than 50% of Telefónica's cashflow.
“I am very proud of what we achieved at Telefónica, taking what was in fact a local company and turning it into the third largest global telecom operator. If I had not gone to INSEAD I could not have achieved this, especially as the only non-Spaniard at the board at the time!”
Since leaving INSEAD, Antonio has always been involved in recruiting MBAs from INSEAD into his organisations, even when it was not in his remit to do so. Antonio has also fostered executive education in these organisations using the INSEAD Executive Education Programmes. He sits on the Spanish National Council of INSEAD.
Antonio stepped down as CEO of Telefónica in 2008, and since then he is serving as a non-executive board member in telecom companies in the UK, Brazil and Mexico, and is the only non-Canadian at the Board of Research in Motion, RIM, the creator of BlackBerry. Antonio also serves on other non-telecom Boards in Spain and Portugal and he works actively as advisor to global private equity companies.
“I think that I have always had a global view, rather than a national perspective. I always want to be actively involved in something global in the future, combining developed and emerging markets.”