31st August 2023

From Spain to the UK and back: An Optimisation, Innovation and IoT Journey

Antonio J. Oliver Balsalobre
IoT Platform Manager

I started at Vodafone in 2009 as an intern on the Radio Team at Vodafone Spain. After a short period working somewhere else, I came back as a Radio Optimisation Specialist, before I got a chance to move countries (to the UK) and roles in 2012. Today I’m back in Spain, as the loT Platform Manager.

The IoT Platform team is responsible for the soul of the IoT Global Connectivity platform (the famous GDSP), from an engineering perspective. We aim to continuously improve our systems so we can provide the best service for Vodafone IoT customers, dealing with a growing demand and a non-stop technology evolution.

As our business keeps on growing, we keep making sure our platform is scalable and able to deal with our customers’ needs. We’ve been hiring software managers, scrum masters, project managers, testers and demand managers - the pool of skills we’re growing in Málaga is already enabling great deliverables, directly impacting our business, and I’m excited to be part of this innovation hub. Let’s see what new and amazing things we can create together!

A quick history

Three years after I first joined Vodafone Spain I joined the Networks team at Vodafone UK. My role was as a Networks Authority, and I grew both professionally and personally by living on my own in a foreign country and communicating in another language. It took me a while to feel like myself, speaking to people in English!

I really enjoyed the experience, but when an opportunity arose a few years later to go back to Spain to join the Networks Innovation team in Vodafone Group, I was happy to return home.

While in Spain, my manager changed roles, I took over from her, and I moved from engineering to being a people manager, which is a very different story! Then, in 2019 I moved over to IoT Connectivity, which has seen me take on a few different roles before my current one.

The loT Platform team is a big one. We have close to 170 people in seven countries (nine locations), with Málaga now being the largest. We do backend, billing, testing, connectivity, system optimisation, security everything 😊.

Vodafone has been a great place to learn all things ‘networks’

I was quite "fresh" from Uni (I have a Telecommunications Engineering degree) when I joined Vodafone, and soon learned that being in a real-life work scenario is quite different from the academic scenarios I had trained with.

I learnt a lot about mobile networks, and it was a challenging role - the ‘radio’ part (from the phone to the antenna) is always the first one blamed if there’s a network problem. So that was a great situation to learn in, both about technical stuff and general work dynamics. I soon realised I wanted to be exposed to an international work environment, so I started exploring the options for International Mobility. That’s how I ended up at Vodafone UK just before the 2012 London Olympics. The UK seemed like a good jump for me and I enjoyed my time there.

Diversity enriches our lives. Working abroad both educated and challenged me. Culturally, depending where you come from and how you were raised, people from different nationalities can be quite different at the start. That affects very basic stuff (for example how you face or prepare for a meeting) and more complex scenarios (for example when negotiating with a vendor, or when dealing with a sensitive topic). I had the opportunity to work with many different people with completely different approaches to similar problems, and I tried to learn as much as possible from that.

In all, working abroad has enabled me to communicate more effectively, improved my problem-solving skills, and given me the ability to work well with and learn from people from different cultures and backgrounds.

Excited for the future in Malaga

I went to uni in Málaga so I feel very connected to the city. It’s such a great place, full of talent (and fun!) It really feels like we’re building a community at Vodafone in Málaga, showing how strong we can be when we nurture talent and work together as a team. The business is building strong business relationships with the government and key companies in the area.

Most excitingly of all, there are now more opportunities for us to collaborate and contribute to global projects, and a lot more opportunities to learn and grow. We are able to feed our ideas and skills to different projects and initiatives and really showcase the value we can bring to Vodafone.  It’s exciting to think about everything we’re going to be doing in the future. I can’t wait to see what that is!

Join the team at Vodafone Spain

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