A new way of doing business

CEO Uva has brought a hands-on approach and openness to Univision

There is a new, more open dynamic at work at Hispanic powerhouse Univision — and the change in large part can be attributed to the tone set by CEO Joe Uva.

While no one ever would describe Uva as an over-the-top personality, his hands-on approach and openness with his employees, the media and Wall Street are the opposite of the bunker mentality imposed by his predecessor, Jerry Perenchio.

Perenchio ran Univision from his Los Angeles office — a continent away from the network's sales and marketing operation — but Uva is based in New York, where he works alongside the sales staff, participating in pitches and even spending much of his downtime interacting with clients.

"Joe has been a breath of fresh air," a Univision veteran said. "We always had a strong message to tell about our media assets, but we could never talk about it because of Perenchio's edict to not talk to the press."

Media buyers also have signaled that they appreciate the new sense of openness and cooperation and the revamped sales structure under the new regime.

Monica Gadsby, CEO of Starcom MediaVest Multicultural, said if she has an issue to take up with Univision, she never has a problem getting Uva on the phone.

The English-language broadcast networks also have taken notice of the new Univision.

"Joe has made some smart moves there," said Jon Nesvig, sales president at Fox Broadcasting. "He's an incredibly smart, hardworking guy who … knows what advertisers are looking for."

Uva was an admirer of the Hispanic marketplace and the buying power of the U.S. Hispanic community long before he succeeded Perenchio 14 months ago. When he joined media agency OMD as worldwide president and CEO in January 2002 following a 17-year sales career at Turner Broadcasting, Uva was well aware that advertisers not reaching out to Hispanic audiences were missing out on a significant business opportunity.

Uva took over less than two months before the 2007 Univision upfront. But even as he presented to advertisers at the annual event — something Perenchio never did — Uva was busy instituting changes in the company's ad sales operation.

He took several months to make key personnel moves, ending up replacing only three of the network's top 15 executives.