Boss It Like

How To Boss It Like… Federico Bolza, vice president of strategy at Sony Music Entertainment

By Oliver Smith 6 October 2016

These leaders are changing our world for the better. We find out how they get the job done.

There are a handful of business leaders and industry figures in Britain who are changing the world. From Sheryl Connelly to Erik Fairbairn and Tracy De Groose, these smart people seem to get an incredible amount done, in an impossibly short space of time.

This morning we’re talking to Federico Bolza, Sony Music Entertainment’s vice president of strategy, who is undoubtedly a productivity guru.

Bolza started as a consultant at EY and Capgemini working on projects for the likes of Vodafone, T-Mobile and O2.

Now as the head of strategy for Sony Music Entertainment Bolza work with Sony’s in-house marketing agency connecting artists with the widest possible audiences. He’s also a passionate musician occasionally DJing a monthly jazz night and writing album reviews.

A busy man, with big ideas, The Memo asked Bolza how he gets it all done.

What time do you get up, and what part of your morning routine sets you up for the day?

6:53am. There is no reason for this other than that is when I open my eyes. Every morning. Same time.

My morning routine involves reading The Guardian in its good old paper format accompanied by a cup of tea and toast.

No screens are harmed in this routine.

What apps do you use to be more productive?


I make a list of things for the day on a piece of paper and tick things off as I go along. What doesn’t get done rolls over to the next day.

Otherwise I’d spend all my time optimising my use of apps rather than doing anything.

What smartphone do you have?

An Apple iPhone 6S (64gb storage in a black and metallic grey colour combo).

How many people, outside of family, do you meet in a day?

Depends on the day really.

I work closely with my team of 10 but often meet various people outside of that. Some are other people in the business or our artists and their managers as well as partners.


I also try to get out once a week and talk to people that have nothing to do with the music business – idea swaps with no direct business agenda are vastly under-rated. After all, it is always nice to hear what is going on outside the building and get some perspective.

What book have you read, either recently or in the past, that has inspired you?

I always read 2 concurrently – one fiction one non.

In fiction I am currently reading City on Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg – a Dickensian behemoth set in the punk rock NYC of the 70s.

In non-fiction I am reading Flyboy 2 which assembles some key works from the past 30 years by American cultural commentator Greg Tate (Village Voice, Source, Wire, etc) on jazz, hip hop, art and identity politics to name a few topics.

I would recommend that everyone read Six Memos for a New Millennium by Italo Calvino which is both wise and provides the best reading list ever.

When do you work until? Are you still sending emails in the night? Or do you have a wind down routine?

It depends but usually around 7pm with a bit of dabbling on the commute home and the occasional glance at emails in the evening.

I try to avoid the late night stuff but sometimes the temptation to respond is too great if I make the mistake of looking.

In terms of wind down routine it mainly involves leaving my phone in a bowl by the door when I come in and leaving it there untouched for as long as possible.

Certainly the phone is not welcome anywhere near my bedroom.

What advice would you give for people who are eager to get into your industry?

Think. Your brain is your most powerful asset considering you job is based on knowledge, symbols, semantics and communication in the main.

And – to the extent that you can – do not get trapped inside the echo chamber of your own specific part of the industry.

The best stuff happens in the spaces in between so go play there as much as you can.

Bolza will be speaking next month at One Question on 2 November, a one-day conference seeking to explore how we successfully marry technology and humanity. Tickets are on sale now and Memo readers can get a 15% discount with the code THEMEMO15.

Come back next Thursday for our next #BossItLike interview, and get in touch if you know a leader who’s also a productivity guru for us to talk to.