Latin Business Today sits down with experienced ad agency executive Daisy Expósito-Ulla Chairman/CEO d expósito & Partners, LLC
Editor’s note: This is part one of a two part Daisy Expósito-Ulla profile find part 1 here: Latina Ad Exec Daisy Expósito-Ulla Talks Building a Business
LBT: Daisy Please, share your personal background with our readers…
I was born in the small town of Güines near Havana, Cuba.
My father, Alfonso Expósito Pernas, was Cuban-born from Galician families that had left Spain during the late 1920’s, to settle in Cuba and find prosperity. In the case of my mother, Narcisa Crusat Garcés, there were some slight geographical differences: her maternal ancestors had had long-existing Cuban roots while her father’s side had come to Cuba from Catalonia, Spain.
My childhood was therefore informed and enriched by the instinctual drive and rural, hard-working principles of “gallegos,” determined to make it in the New World, and then Catalonians who had married Cuban children born to families who had ironically fought Spain during the Cuban War for Independence.
As such, the interactions of my childhood had somewhat unconsciously announced and prepared me to be “the exile” that I became in 1963 when we left Cuba, after the Castro-led Revolution, and with my parents and older-sister, Maritza, briefly joined some of our relatives, whose home was Galicia, and then, after a year in a small town called Ferreira, came to America and settled in New York where we’ve lived for half-a-century.
Settling in New York
I was ten at the time of our arrival.
My parents and the rest of the family had left behind them a modest level of hard-earned prosperity in the form of a town’s store and jewelry businesses, the store was a small version of what today would be a Home Depot with a jewelry added to it. When they left, they hadn’t even had the time to enjoy the fruits of their efforts.
Exile meant a new language to learn, even though I had attended the American school in my town, it was Kate Plummer Bryan Memorial school. It also meant a new country and a new culture to grasp, new friends to make and new hopes to be nurtured in order to erase whatever wounds might have been left by the past.
My parents were resilient and helped us so that my sister and I would not skip a beat.
My father’s mantra was short and simple: hard work and preparedness. My dad’s and my mom’s ethics were unchangeable: be honest, be kind, be truthful. These are still the moral influences that move me. I saw them work hard and I still feel proud to mirror them.
LBT: Daisy please tell us about the factors that shaped your career and your Hispanic business aspirations.
I’m not exaggerating when I put a lot of “the blame” on my early attraction to television.
I was hooked on the early comedy series like “I Love Lucy” and the talk-shows of the time. The TV screen was, in fact, like an additional classroom where I could polish my English… while doing my actual homework! Television was like a window to the world for me.
Broadcasting and advertising
Somehow, I started to get tickets for some of those shows in Manhattan and the gravitational process started to happen on its own.
Meanwhile, my uncle Pepe, a sculptor and graphic artist, had a small graphic studio where I joined him and my father, and would soon learn some basics of message construction and advertising. I went to the New York Institute of Technology, which was little known then, and where I graduated with high honors in the discipline of Communications.
I was avid and hungry for knowledge. I looked up special broadcast courses, hands-on production opportunities, advertising talks, connections and seminars―all over New York City and, in some cases, in some safety-challenged areas not exactly recommended for a young woman at night―especially in the NYC of those days.
You don’t find the job; the job finds you.
I landed a first opportunity with PBS where a very smart Latina producer, Raquel Ortiz, treated me with the care and responsibility of a mentor. The PBS experience was enormously helpful as it opened my eyes to film and television production―and the Latino experience of America.
Advertising would find itself in my path
In short time, though, advertising would find itself in my path signaling where my destiny would take me.
A filmmaker friend, Orlando Jimenez-Leal, who was already shooting some of the first spots for brands trying to reach Hispanic consumers, suggested to contact a pioneering ad agency, Conill Advertising. Owned by Alicia and Rafael Conill, they had the strength of their Havana-earned pedigree and were introducing important clients like McDonald’s to the incipient U.S. Hispanic Market of the 1970’s.
I was hired as a producer and learned a lot from Alicia who taught me key lessons of leadership while allowing me to become a copywriter―indeed, a full-fledge publicitaria.
Stars had an interesting alignment
By the end of that decade, the stars had an interesting alignment and a concurrence of factors moved my life in a different direction.
I met Jorge Ulla, the man who would become my life and business partner to this day, did a brief stunt, again, with PBS and, in a swift twist of fate, was offered a job at a tiny, barely-started ad division at the legendary Madison Avenue advertising giant, Young & Rubicam.
This is where most writers would write, “…and the rest is history.” I was lucky to be given the opportunity and to see the growth of The Bravo Group from six employees to nearly 400 and from a million in billings to close to 500 million in billings. We helped create the blueprint for Madison Avenue to address the growing U.S. Hispanic Market.
We ushered the entrance of giant brands such as AT&T. We helped introduce product categories, strengthen the media outlets and gradually produce the media explosion that now services 60 plus million Hispanic-Americans.
In part two Daisy will share:
How she started her business, People that influened her business, Work-Life balabce challenges and a bit of advice for Latino starting a business