Telefonica's Phil Jordan on the tricks of a goup CIO

One of Telefonica Group CIO Phil Jordan’s time management secrets is no secret at all.

We’ve all heard the adage “Work smart, not hard”, and most of us think it makes sense. But how many of us really apply it?

“I’ve always felt that the people who are most effective are the ones who work fewer hours,” says Jordan. “I’ve seen this in my career many times, and it’s even more clear now as work cultures are changing. More people are working from home, and thanks to mobile technology, people have less need to be in the office.

“Some people carry around a badge of honour reserved for those who work very long hours. My sense is the people who get more done are those who establish clear boundaries. They have more self-discipline to split their lives into segments.”

Telefonica is the third largest mobile phone operator in the world, with more than 225 million subscribers and over $80bn (£49.5bn) in revenue.

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Jordan’s IT organisation numbers around a thousand people and his IT strategy effects thousands more. As he’s taken on more senior jobs, he has had to get better at prioritising.

“Senior executives with international responsibilities have this intuition that allows them to home in on what’s important. They don’t get dragged into every issue or try to apply their leadership to places where it’s not needed.”

One of the challenges for group CIOs is that many of the people they need to get to do things aren’t in their direct command.

“It’s a completely different way of working,” says Jordan. “People who come up through functional leadership roles don’t always get it. Even CIOs who have had all the levers they can pull, such as resource allocation, prioritisation and investment. Global roles are different. You can’t control, you have to influence.