Meet CRISTINA HELGUERA, regional director of strategic planning and budget Hispam. Discover her career.
TELEFONICA NEWS: How long have you been with Telefónica and what is your assessment of your time here?
CRISTINA HELGUERA: This year I have completed my first 10 years at Telefónica (I hope to have many more decades here). I joined with great enthusiasm after a few years in strategic consulting, and I have spent most of these years dedicated to Corporate Strategy and Latin American Strategy working with exceptional people who are undoubtedly a very important part of my life. About two years ago, I took over responsibility for Strategic and Financial Planning for Latin America.
My time at Telefónica has been a fascinating journey, professionally and personally. The telecommunications industry is undergoing an exciting transformation and having the opportunity to be an active part of this change is something I can only be grateful for, as well as enjoy. I ecognize that my life has been marked by transformation, I started studying Architecture, followed by a period in Germany, India, to end up working at Telefónica where, the truth is, I am still transforming every day. The constantly evolving environment at Telefónica never ceases to provide us with opportunities to challenge ourselves, grow and evolve, not always without frustration, but one thing I am extremely proud of is that, in my experience at Telefónica and mainly in the last few years in Latin America, we never, ever gave up, and if you add to this being close to incredibly talented people, it makes my appreciation of these years and the experience I have gained immeasurable. Every day I value the opportunity to learn, to contribute and to be part of a team that drives change.
TN: Is there any project at Telefónica that you feel particularly satisfied with?
CH: Definitely, every project in which I have participated is unique and it is difficult not to feel satisfied because, as I said before, we can sometimes get frustrated, be more or less happy with the results, but what I am sure of is that we give our all in each of the projects and decisions we take, and just because of that passion, not giving up, which is common to all the projects and teams I have had the opportunity to work with at Telefónica, I feel very proud and satisfied.
None of the decisions that have been and are taken at Telefónica is easy, and from my role in strategy and finance, finding the balance between short and long term value is not always easy. We are in continuous transformation, changing a lot, but when you go to the basics, our mission is always clear, and to me it is something that moves me “to connect people’s lives” and every decision and action we take is aligned with that purpose.
I am very proud of the progress we have made in the last three years at Telefónica Hispanoamérica. We have transformed and ationalize into a single regional team that operates in eight countries, each with its own nuances and challenges, making us a better team, with the best of each country dedicated to what it does best for the region as a whole. Likewise, I am proud of the challenges we continually face to seek and find real solutions whether it is to ationalize investments, to be more efficient, to seek value while continuing to accelerate our mission to continue to connect more customers to the best technologies.
I believe that success is not only measured by the end results, but also by the constant learning we have from each experience, whether it is more or less successful. I am very proud to be in a company that makes bold decisions and faces challenges to fulfil that mission.
TN: What do you think Telefónica has contributed to society?
CH: Telefónica is about to celebrate its first centenary, and if we think about what society was like 100 years ago and what it is like now, I think there is no doubt about the evolution of society and Telefónica’s contribution to it.
In Telefónica’s early days, the introduction of the landline telephone marked a milestone in the way people communicated, breaking down barriers and bringing people separated by distance closer together. It is hard to imagine life before landline telephones, but it is clear that it was a service that revolutionised the way the world connects. And since then, Telefónica’s role has been crucial in the development of every country where it is present: with the introduction of the internet in homes, businesses, personal connection through mobile phones… All of this has radically transformed society. Not only has it improved communication, but it has also had an impact on a multitude of key areas such as education, health, the ability to start up businesses, security, etc.
TN: Where do you see Telefónica in the future?
CH: In general, I tend to think that the trajectory of the past, every experience, success and challenge, together with the current decisions we make, have a lot to say about our future: they define an identity and shape skills that are very valuable indicators of what our future will be like. It is also true that the life and society we live in is very dynamic and everything changes very quickly, but Telefónica is very aware of the need to adapt to changing circumstances, always transforming itself. In that sense, my vision of Telefónica is exciting and full of possibilities. I have no doubt that Telefónica will continue to play a leading role in society. I am sure we will be at the forefront of technological evolution, driving innovation.
TN: Could you live without a mobile phone?
CH: The idea of living without a mobile phone is hard for me to imagine, considering that I had my first mobile phone when I was a teenager and it was a very different device to today’s; it was battery operated and had very basic functions, but even then it solved many issues for us. Although I find it hard to imagine life without this tool that is so integral today, I think the capacity of human adaptation is amazing, it would serve us to find another solution and to see each other face to face much more. The pandemic has taught us a lot about resilience. During confinement, many of us were forced to work remotely, and although it was a significant adjustment at first, we learned to find opportunity and solutions.
However, I admit that I would find it hard to live without a mobile phone. Technology, especially the mobile phone, has greatly simplified our lives. Not only for calling or communicating, which is the basics (I don’t even have a landline at home anymore, I always use my mobile), but also for paying, for getting places, for work, it allows us to carry out countless tasks quickly and efficiently.
TN: Help us solve one of the great enigmas of humanity: the potato omelette… With onion or without onion?
CH: Personally I prefer it without onion, I like the simple but delicious combination of egg and potato. But I recognise that the onion adds an extra sweetness to the flavour. I prefer the one without onion, but both versions have their charm and are delicious in different ways. The important thing is to enjoy this dish that is such a classic for us in Spain.
TN: Nominate another colleague to appear in this section
CH: I would love to nominate Gabriela Bautista to share her vision with us and infect us all with her energy, talent, drive and enthusiasm.