A graduate in Economic Sciences from Madrid Complutense University, he also studied Economic Sciences at the Université Libre in Brussels and has an International Management Programme (IMP) from IPADE Business School (Instituto Panamericano de Alta Dirección de Empresa). He also earned an Advanced Study Diploma from the Chair of Financial Economics and Accounting of Madrid Complutense University.
He joined the Telefónica group in February 1999 as General Manager for Finance of Telefónica Internacional S.A.U., and in September of the same year was made General Manager of Corporate Finance in Telefónica S.A. in July 2002, he was appointed CEO of Telefónica Internacional S.A.; in July 2006, Director General of Telefónica Latin America; and in March 2009, Chairman of Telefónica Latin America. In September 2011, he was given the post of CEO of Telefonica Europe, and in September 2012 he was appointed CEO of Telefónica S.A.
Since 8 April 2016 he has been CEO of Telefónica S.A., and a member of the Board of Directors of Telefónica S.A., in a post he has held since July 2006.
He started his professional career in Arthur Young Auditores in 1987, before joining Benito & Monjardín/Kidder, Peabody & Co. in 1988. In 1995 he joined the Compañía Valenciana de Cementos Portland (CEMEX) as head of the Investors and Studies Relations department. In 1996, he was appointed financial director for Spain, and in 1998 became the General Manager for Administration and Finance of the CEMEX Group in Indonesia and the members of the Board of Directors of CEMEX Asia Ltd.
In 2001, he was awarded the “CFO Europe Best Practices” prize in the area of Mergers & Acquisitions 2000 for the CFO Europe Magazine. In 2003, he was appointed an Honorary Member of the Ibero-American Forum of the Fundación Carlos III and in 2007 received the Gold Master of the Senior Management Forum. In 2011, he was awarded the Price for the Economic Personality of the Year by the “El Economista” journal and in 2013 the Association of Telecommunications Technical Engineers gave him the Prize for Excellence of this year for his contribution to developing communications. In 2014, José María Álvarez-Pallete received the Sorolla Medal of the Hispanic Society of America and was recognised as “Innovative Corporate Leader of the Year” by the Latin Trade magazine. In 2016 he was named “Best CEO” in Spain by the Forbes magazine.