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Telefonica CIO Phil Jordan - UK leader with global vision

Mark Chillingworth | April 12, 2013
"I think this is the opening up of a digital economy, and every business is wrestling with that," says Phil Jordan, Group CIO for Telefonica, the worldwide telecommunications company. On a cold and misty day in Madrid, the Spanish company's British CIO describes how technological, social and economic events are reshaping one of the foremost communications companies in the world.

Jordan's agenda is transformation and that means the global IT budget is around 4% of revenue but is still more than €2 billion a year, which he describes as "very competitive".

"We are attacking running costs and helping transform the organisation and I am very proud of that. IT brings a greater focus on cost in the business."

"As voice is becoming part of our past, we need to find new products and services that customers will value.

"I believe the future of our industry is all about data and being the best provider of digital and data services. Telefonica Digital is critical to position ourselves in this new business world. It is a business unit in its own right and focuses on new revenue sources, partnering opportunities and data sources that exist across the Telefonica footprint. We are looking into other industries where we can extend our business model - good examples are finance, healthcare and education," he says.

At Vodafone Jordan worked with group CIO Albert Hitchcock and Global CTO Steve Pusey.

"Pusey and Hitchcock have done a fantastic job of real continuity and they have driven a lot of change. Having been part of doing that with them and doing their equivalent roles now I appreciate what they have done," says Jordan.

His Vodafone career also saw him working with Darrell Stein - CIO at retailers Marks and Spencer - who Jordan describes as being "a real active change agent", as well as Jeni Mundy, the Director of Northern Europe at Vodafone, who he says is the "best values-based leader".

So with C-level stars as mentors, how does Jordan describe his leadership style?

"I blend a little bit of what I learned from them every day. I learnt a lot about building teams by being in them. I like a little bit more diversity now in my teams and I'm better at understanding what my shortcomings are and building teams that fill in for my shortcomings. Your ability to choose more diversity is easier in a big organisation.

"Building teams and environments are the most important thing I do and the main part of my job and making sure that environment makes things happen."

Global reach

Jordan says one of the things he has most enjoyed about moving to be Group CIO in Telefonica in Madrid is the diversity of nationalities, cultures and styles that he gets to work alongside. His own Global IT team is sizeable too, and boasts 6000 IT professionals.

Jordan works closely with Telefonica's new CEO Jose Maria Alvarez-Pallete.

"He is very technology-savvy and an active sponsor of IT transformation in our business," says Jordan of his boss.


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