Ralph de la Vega, CEO of AT&T Mobility Describes How Adversity as a Child Helped Him Succeed in Business
Ralph de la Vega, CEO of AT&T Mobility, a $55 billion business, discusses how as a 10 year old boy leaving Cuba during the Castro Revolution, his family was trying to leave Havana when the Revolutionary Guard at the airport told his parents that “only the boy can go.” Believing it was just a small administrative problem, de la Vega’s parents put him on the plane after calling a distant friend and asking them to pick him up. Although it was a very difficult time for him since he didn’t speak English and knew no one, in hindsight he said it was one of the best things that happened to him because overcoming obstacles since then is what he prides himself on doing and it has led to his current success.
“There I was, all alone, though living with a family who were very kind to me, not speaking the language, without a penny in my pocket, not understanding the culture – and I didn’t even like the food very much. Now whenever anyone asks me how hard it was to have completed the Cingular Wireless and AT&T Wireless merger, the largest all-cash merger worth $41 billion in four weeks, I tell them it was relatively easy!”
I asked Ralph de la Vega what that taught him about facing challenges in the rest of his life.
“Well, I realized that if you face challenges with a positive attitude and the will to overcome adversity and make the best of the situation, it makes all the difference” he replied. “I understood that people are really resilient and can overcome obstacles if they are determined to do so. Either you permit the circumstance to overwhelm you, or you master your fears and overcome those circumstances.”
Find out more about how Ralph de la Vega learned to turn adversity into success in our video interview on The CEO TV Show.