196: A life of leadership | Ralph de la Vega

The Leadership Enigma

31-05-2024 • 51 mins

Ralph de la Vega is the former Vice Chairman of AT&T Inc. and CEO of AT&T Business Solutions and AT&T International. Ralph had a 42 year career at AT&T and is now living in Florida.

His father was in the food distribution business and he came from a strong and religious tight knit family in Cuba. Once the Castro Regime took over they nationalised all food production and distribution and his fathers business was taken over by the regime, food was rationed and small kids were being indoctrinated in schools to turn on their parents if they held views that were against the revolution.

Ralph's parents decided to leave Cuba for the USA when he was 10 years old and in doing so they had to turn over all of their possessions to the Government. Once they arrived at the airport as a family of four (both parents and his younger sister) they were met by the militia who said to them five words that Ralph will never forget, "only the boy can go."

Ralph's parents made the heart wrenching decision to send Ralph by himself to the USA which is where he stayed alone without his family for four years. When he arrived he spoke no English and had not a dollar to his name. From this incredibly humble start Ralph became the Vice Chairman of a Fortune 10 company, AT&T.

Ralph credits his Grandmother for helping him reach his potential as when she arrived in the USA she told him "don't let anybody put limitations on what you want to achieve." His mantra to young adults is to dream big.

Ralph tells me that his early years of adversity meant that when it came to his oversight of the merger with AT&T Wireless for $41bn, that was easy!

Ralph has learned his leadership skills over four decades with over 200,000 employees and operations in 200 countries. The best leader is one who can take a group of talented individuals and get them to do things that they thought were impossible to do. Inspiring people is always more powerful than coercing and pushing. Followership is  important especially in a large organisation.

Ralph hopes that as an immigrant to the USA he can inspire others to achieve their dreams and potential. Ralph is very proud that in his career he worked with Steve Jobs in launching the iPhone, connectedTesla cars for Elon Musk and launched the Kindle with Jeff Bezos worldwide, yet his favourite memory is that 24 of his previous employees that he directly led have gone on to become CEO's of their own companies.

This is an episode packed full of anecdotes and stories from a senior leader who believes in helping talented people fulfil their dreams as he is now the sponsor of the De la Vega Entrepreneurship Award which is in its 4th year.
This episode also includes Ralph's fond memories of working and sharing the stage with Steve Jobs who was a great practitioner for promoting simplicity.

Ralph is the author of "Obstacles Welcome: How to Turn Adversity to Advantage in Business and Life." available from Amazon.
Ralphdelavega.com

Watch & Subscribe: 👀 https://www.youtube.com/@theleadersenigma/videos
Listen & Subscribe: 🎙️ https://open.spotify.com/show/5NSnRyHzPmyY5OWhGzKU5P
www.leadersenigma.com


Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

You Might Like

Uncanny
Uncanny
BBC Radio 4
Happy Place
Happy Place
Fearne Cotton
Anything Goes with James English
Anything Goes with James English
Anything Goes with James English
Miss Me?
Miss Me?
BBC Sounds
How To Fail With Elizabeth Day
How To Fail With Elizabeth Day
Elizabeth Day and Sony Music Entertainment
Stuff You Should Know
Stuff You Should Know
iHeartPodcasts
The Girls Bathroom
The Girls Bathroom
Sophia & Cinzia
Life with Nat
Life with Nat
Keep It Light Media
Dad V Girls After Hours
Dad V Girls After Hours
The Fellas Studios
Modern Wisdom
Modern Wisdom
Chris Williamson
Am I the Jerk?
Am I the Jerk?
youtube.com/amithejerk
The Why Files: Operation Podcast
The Why Files: Operation Podcast
The Why Files: Operation Podcast
Rosebud with Gyles Brandreth
Rosebud with Gyles Brandreth
Gyles Brandreth / Plain Jaine Productions / Keep It Light Media