When I worked at Univision way back in the late 1990s’, it had an 80% share of the Spanish language TV audience. Our biggest challenge was getting “general-market” advertisers to take us seriously. Fox News Channel had yet to embark on its anti-immigration platform (that began in 2003 or 2004), so most people were clueless but curious and positive about Latin culture’s influence in the USA. But I digress.
The point is, how can a company like Univision with such a vast lead lose it so quickly? A few reasons, but the main one… leveraged buyout. Some greedy (or perhaps just too wealthy and naive?) investors paid top dollar for Univision when it was on top. They didn’t know how to run it, the media market changed, and they couldn’t make the payments. Wallah, an 80% share of the most loyal group of consumers on the planet, evaporated.
When I worked there, I felt that Univision’s upper echelon of management (Gringos and a few token 1% ruling-class Latinos from wealthy Latin American families with lots of wealth but little talent) was never about anything but the money anyway. My General Sales Manager, when she first hired me, misled and then screwed me out of $5K in my 1st year. Why? I think she assumed I was just some rube from Tennessee who would never work out anyway so why not save a little money to boost your division’s profitability if you can?
Great way to treat a new hire, but that was who she was. Penny-pinching, small-minded, bull-doggish, and selfish (and not Latina). I laughed and carried on. Even then, $5K was a petty sum in the grand scheme of things for me in New York City, but I remembered it. I also remember my colleagues and I having to constantly triple check and fight to get our sales commission checks to match the pay structure in our contracts.
One year my monthly commission check was wrong more often than it was right, and yes, never to my favor either. It wasn’t just me, it was almost anyone that worked in sales for WXTV Univision 41 in NYC during that era. Normally, in a sales organization, your general sales manager would fight for you, but in our case, our general sales manager seemed to be the problem. Maybe it was some sense of control she was trying to exert by messing with people’s livelihood? I was single without a family to support so the impact of delayed commissions was negligible, but I couldn’t say the same for my compatriots who had spouses and kids to support.
Speaking for me, it all worked out and it’s water under the bridge and I barely even remember it unless something like the above article triggers the memory. But obviously, all these years later I can still channel that period of my working life. However, most of the time, I don’t recall it in bitterness, actually just the opposite.
The lessons I learned at my first job in New York City and my first job at a large publicly traded corporation were invaluable. I met friends I still have to this day (co-workers, clients, etc.) and was introduced to a plethora of Latin cultures that I fell in love with. The warmth of Latinos in the cold, harsh, and too often toxicity of New York City was a godsend for this newcomer.
The cold, cruel, and incompetent toxicity of a corporation like Univision, could not compare to the education I was receiving in sales, research, and pitfalls of corporate culture. But mostly I learned, from the management of that company, how NOT to run a company and how NOT to treat people, be they employees or viewers. It has served me well.
I also learned that “a fish stinks from the head down” and that bad or incompetent leadership will stink up the entire organization, no matter how good the soldiers are. I always called Univision an “upside-down” organization in my confidential conversations about the company.
If you could have taken people at the middle and bottom rungs of management, and given them leadership positions instead, I predict the company would still be dominant instead of flittering from one rescue operation to the next as it does today.
I have no animus for Univision. Nothing but love.
First of all I don’t know any of the current folks as my era was some 2 decades ago. But most importantly, that experience was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had in my life. I learned a lot, made a good living and left on excellent terms. Even the manager who screwed me out of $5k was throwing money at me to try to get me to stay a mere three years later, so much was my success there. Today, 20+ years later, I’m so thankful I had that experience as I vowed never to work for another corporation again. I haven’t, and I don’t think I ever will.
There are some really good companies out there, I know because I work with so many of them in my current capacity. But once you get a taste of being independent, it’s hard to go back.
Sorry you’ve fallen so far but gracias Univision! You may never know how much you helped me.