May 9, 2018
Rick Alessandri is the Executive Vice President at Univision Communications. At a young age, he didn’t expect to be a media executive. In fact, he originally thought that he would be an attorney, but quickly realized he wasn't passionate about it. From a young age, his passions had been more centered around sports and music.
While in college, he started working part-time for Sports Ticker. A year later, in 1983, he became a full-time employee. Slowly, this then morphed into the newsroom operator, sports reporter, and many other duties. As the business grew, and as he became more and more involved, he started learning all that he could about the sports business.
The company grew and was eventually sold to ESPN in 1993. In 2000, Rick was asked to take a job with George Bodenheimer as his chief of staff VP. Here, he learned to communicate with people, manage staff and figured out how to get deals done. This earned him different job positions at ESPN, and now he’s at Univision running the corporate business development team.
He believes mentors have been pivotal in his career but it was always coupled with hard work. You have to put the effort in, and have the willingness to learn in order to be successful. To attract a mentor, it's essential that you're passionate, committed, and also curious to learn. Some of his mentors are George Bodenheimer and Peter Bavasi.
His first risk was taking a full-time job while he was still in college. At this time, he made a bet with ESPN, (even though it was just a start-up company with no defined success). Over the years, he’s taken risks in his career, but nothing as big as making the leap to lead a Spanish media company. This terrified him in the first few days, but it's been a remarkable journey and very rewarding.
DEVELOPING LEADERSHIP SKILLS
Rick has learned a lot of things from managers, both good and bad. However, he tries to be as transparent as possible in his leadership. Managers make a lot of tough decisions, and the only thing you can do is be honest with your employees. Handling downfalls hands-on and in the moment, spares you from a series of disappointment with the team members later on. Also, as a leader, It’s imperative to listen to your colleagues and bosses, synthesize the message, and take the best parts from it.
Although some leadership skills are innate, you can still learn from the numerous resources available. For Rick, he learned and enhanced his skills from supporting STOKED and Junior Achievement in New York. JA is an organization that focuses on financial literacy with youth. They’ve got incredible talent and he’s proud to be associated with such a group.
MAKING DIFFICULT DECISIONS.
The most difficult decisions happen when you have to make decisions that involves and impacts other people’s lives. He vividly remembers the first person he fired, it was such a difficult moment for him that he cried.
The most important job as a manager is to communicate a vision successfully. Let them know how you measure success and the understanding of why it's important to you. The critical thing for a leader is to encourage employees to be proactive and self-sufficient. Don't put employees in positions of responsibility and then sit on them constantly.
Univision will be launching new products in development, as well language learning projects teaching Spanish and English. They’re also planning a soccer event in December where they’ll host 8 international soccer teams. This game will result in them crowning a USA champion and a global champion!