From a Smile to a Grin

From the Spring 2009 edition of Vanderbilt Business

Polo Romero

Polo Romero

If anyone understands the changing face of America, it’s Polo Romero, MBA’02. In the decade since studying at Owen, the Mexico native has witnessed not only a boom in the Hispanic population of the United States but also a profound shift in the country’s demographic map. No longer are Hispanics concentrated solely along the southern border of the United States, in places like California, Arizona, Texas and Florida, or in major metropolitan areas like New York. Today some of the fastest growing Hispanic communities are located further inland, in states like Arkansas, Illinois, Colorado, Georgia and Tennessee.

“When more job opportunities started developing for Hispanics in other areas, the migration patterns changed,” Romero says. “If you picture the population of 10 years ago on the map, it looked something like a thin smile. Today that smile is a wide grin.”

And that wide grin means economic opportunity for Romero and his company, Univision Communications Inc., the premier Spanish-language media company in the United States with operations that include broadcast and cable television, radio and Internet. As Vice President of Marketing & New Business Development, Romero helps Mexican companies understand the potential of the U.S. Hispanic market. “This market has nearly $1 trillion of acquisitive power. If it were an independent economy, it would be the 15th largest in the world,” he says. “Take a few minutes to think about that—45 million Hispanics generating nearly $1 trillion.”

Among Romero’s responsibilities are presenting media opportunities to Mexican companies that already have a presence in the United States and educating those that do not. But Romero views his role in a much broader sense. “My daily role may be evangelizing to companies about having a clear marketing strategy that caters to the needs of Hispanics,” he explains. “But it’s also about getting people to look beyond the immigration debate and start reflecting on the fundamental changes the United States is undergoing as a result of Hispanic influence. As a daily witness to these changes, I can say that the positive effects far outweigh the negative. The success stories are simply breathtaking.”