• Group Executive Chairman takes to the helm, replacing Orange’s Stéphane Richard.
  • Strategic direction” under Álvarez‑Pallete’s oversight for two‑year tenure.

Telefónica’s Álvarez‑Pallete elected to GSMA top spot

Telefónica’s Álvarez‑Pallete elected to GSMA top spot

Source: Telefónica

Telefónica Group Executive Chairman José María Álvarez‑Pallete was elected Chairman of the GSM Associations’ Board, with a mandate stretching to the end of 2024.

He replaced outgoing Orange Chief Executive Stéphane Richard, who has held the seat for the past three years. Álvarez‑Pallete will oversee the strategic direction of the GSMA, supporting what he described as a “robust and innovation telecommunications sector” with “responsible, sustainable, and inclusive leadership”.

He said he takes the GSMA lead at a time when “the metaverse, web3, and the new digital age” are coming into focus.

“ Digitalisation progress must include responsible leadership to drive growth, job creation, sustainability and accelerate digital inclusion. I look forward to supporting the GSMA in advancing these critical issues. ”

— Álvarez‑Pallete.

His predecessor, Richard, has departed the position at the same time as his Chairman and CEO roles at Orange. He was thanked for his “steady and supportive” leadership through a “challenging period” by Mats Granryd, GSMA Director General.

Richard exited Orange after a guilty verdict and one‑year suspended sentence for a long‑running fraud case related to his time in the French government. He was replaced as CEO by Schneider Electric’s Executive Vice‑President for Europe Operations, Christel Heydemann, but remains in a Non‑Executive Chairman role until a replacement is found ahead of the Group’s mid‑May Annual General Meeting.

Telefónica expands GSMA role

The Spanish operator engages with the GSMA in several ways, both via participation in R&D projects and through strategic and policy roles.

Telefónica’s Spectrum Policy & Regulatory Intelligence lead Javier Lacasa is Vice‑Chair of the GSMA’s Regulatory Operator Expert Group and the Frequencies Operator Expert Group. Telefónica’s Director of European Regulatory Affairs, Carlos Rodriguez Cocina, is also a member of the GSMA’s Policy Group Europe.

Among the GSMA projects in which Telefónica is involved is the Telco Edge Cloud. Together with BT, China Unicom, Deutsche Telekom, KDDI, Orange, Singtel, and Telecom Italia, Telefónica launched a multi‑operator, multi‑location edge platform pilot. It is also tied with Deutsche Telekom, Orange, and T‑Mobile US on a GSMA‑backed blockchain network, established in 2020 to improve inter‑operator roaming contracts (Telefónicawatch, #141).

GSMA Board, February 2022
Source: GMSA.

José María Álvarez‑Pallete

Chairman & CEO, Telefónica

Rima Qureshi

Executive Vice‑President & Chief Strategy Officer, Verizon

Mats Granryd

Director General, GSMA

Olayan Alwetaid


Sigve Brekke

President and CEO, Telenor

Ahmed Essam

CEO, Vodafone UK

Luigi Gubitosi

CEO & General Manager, Telecom Italia

Liu Guiqing

EVP, China Telecom

Izzaddin Idris

CEO, Axiata

Carlos Jarque

Executive Director for International Relations, Government & Corporate Affairs, America Movil

Susan Johnson

EVP for Global Connections & Supply Chain, AT&T

Hyeonmo Ku

President and CEO, KT

Dominique Leroy

Board Member for Europe, Deutsche Telekom

Motoyuki Ii

President & CEO, NTT DOCOMO

Yuen Kuan Moon

CEO, Singtel

Vyacheslav Nikolaev

Chairman & CEO, MTS

Mathew Oommen

President, Reliance Jio

Andrew Penn

CEO, Telstra

Stéphane Richard

Chairman & CEO, Orange

Christian Salbaing

Deputy Chairman for Europe, Hutchison Whampoa Europe

Jens Schulte‑Bockum

Group Chief Operating Officer, MTN

Makoto Takahashi


Kaan Terzioğlu


Gao Tongqing

EVP, China Mobile

Gopal Vittal

CEO, Bharti Airtel

Mai Yanzhou

EVP, China Unicom