'The Latino Guy' Explains 'Translation' at Diversity Conference


Last week, Adrants, Business Development Institute and Boston's Ad Club held the third Advertising, Marketing and PR Industry Diversity Job Fair and Leadership Conference at Boston University. The focus of the event was to ramp up the conversation about diversity in advertising as well as give those interested in beginning a career in advertising a chance to learn what it's like from those who are in the business.

With 300 attendees present, the event began with a Keynote conversation between Digitas Boston President Torrence Boon and Arnold Worldwide Multicultural Programs and Community Outreach VP Tiffany Warren who share their experiences working in the industry as well as the roles they play in developing diversity in their companies.

Next, I led a panel called "What it's like to work in the advertising, marketing and PR industries." On the panel were Digitas VP and Director of Channel Activation Victor Lee, iProspect Founder and Isobar Chief Global Search Officer Frederick Marckini, Potter Ruiz Advertising and Communications Creative Partner Fernando Ruiz and Arnold Worldwide Multicultural Network Co-Chair and Senior Brand Planner Dan Sarmiento.

Ruiz told the humorous and disconcerting stories about his early career experiences being pegged as "the Latino guy" who was brought to new business pitches simply because he was Latino. Ever the upbeat optimist, Ruiz built a business based on his ethic background to serve big agencies who, from time to time needed "the Latino guy" to, you know, translate that big national campaign to the Latino market.

Of course, Ruiz spits on that notion of "translation" and has made it his business to educate marketers that it's not about translation of words but about the cultural knowledge and insight needed to make any "translation" resonate with a particular ethnic group. It's about translating ideas and concepts, not words, to resonate with a particular ethnic.

Since he co-founded his business with "a white woman" who does all the new business stuff, he likes to joke he's still "the Latino guy" in the back of the room. Ever the witty one.

Victor Lee told the story of a time in his early, pre-digital career during which he was asked to make a database from every entry in Bacon's, once the bible for public relations industry contact info. In response to a question a bout dealing with work overload, Lee, while slogging through thousands of listings suggested an alternative method which, in the end, paid off handsomely since he became known with in the company as the guy with the new ideas. He still had to slog all the way through Bacons but when future opportunities came up, he was the guy asked over the other who just did what they were asked to do.

In general, the panel stress a career in advertising can, at first, be very draining with much over time but the payoffs and rewards are well worth it and come to those who have the eagerness to achieve. Even the issue of dress and "fitting" in where addressed during the Q and A. That topic is the same no matter what a person's background may be. On the part of the employee, there's always an amount of blending in that needs to be done. On the part of the employer, there's always an amount of respect and tolerance that needs to be exhibited.

Following this panel the attendees were able to separate into several break out sessions which covered topical areas such as account management, creative, production, interactive and public relations and which offered attendees more focused one on one time with those working in areas in which they had an interest.

The bonus of the day was the afternoon job fair where attendees could grab face time time with Boston area hiring companies. For anyone looking to get into advertising, let alone any industry, face time such as this is not an everyday opportunity. We hope to bring you success stories in the future about attendees who went through this process and landed their dream job in advertising.

by Steve Hall    May-22-07   Click to Comment   
Topic: Industry Events   

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Great recap and thanks for your support of the event.

Some additional take-away for new employees and job seekers to consider: Victor Lee, VP/director or channel activation, Digitas suggested a game that junior staffers and newbies should play during large meetings. Look at all of the participants (agency and client) and determine what they do, and what motivates them. If you don't understand what they do, ask (probably after the meeting) and start to think what keeps them up at night. I've always thought "walk in my shoes" and empathy are the best traits for job success - and understanding diversity.

Similarly, Frederick Marckini, founder, iProspect and chief global search officer at parent company Isobar stressed that newbies need to deeply understand their role, but to think about what might be next in their career path. He said to look around for the superstars and talk to those people. Determine what they are doing, their passions, what they read and what they do in order to be great.

Again, thanks for your involvement. Maybe next year, my peers in the Boston-area PR business will attend, set up shop in the career fair and be a part of the solution.

Posted by: Adam Zand on May 22, 2007 3:49 PM


Thanks so much for the added coverage. Even though I was running the panel, it was very hard for me to remember what everyone on the panel had to offer. I'm a one things at a time kind of guy:-) So much appreciation for the additional info.

Posted by: Steve Hall on May 22, 2007 6:53 PM

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