To say that Edgar Sandoval's career skyrocketed early on would not be an understatement. A former project engineer at GE Aerospace, Sandoval was pursuing an MBA at Wharton School of Business when Procter & Gamble came calling in 1993.
"I was a bit surprised, because my background was all engineering and technical," he recalled. "But they told me that they liked what they saw on my résumé, so they came after me." After a summer internship with the consumer-goods giant, Sandoval knew it was "a perfect fit."
Sandoval, 45, started in P&G's fabric-care business unit, the largest in the company. He was also part of the team that started P&G's Multicultural Business Development Organization.
"We had always been supportive of the Hispanic consumer," he said, and with the MBDO, "we made even a more concerted effort to focus on it."
Eventually, Sandoval worked his way up to the position of general manager for multicultural and marketing and his current role as P&G's general manager for North American marketing. Now, he will be accepting this year's Lifetime of Achievement in Hispanic Television Award from Multichannel News and Broadcasting & Cable.
The youngest son of Guatemalan immigrants - whose first and only language was Spanish upon their U.S. arrival - Sandoval said receiving the award in Hispanic TV is rewarding on several fronts.
"As someone who understands very well the acculturation process of Hispanics, someone who's bilingual, understands the beauty of our Spanish language and the fact that it has played a very critical role in the history of the country to date and will continue to play that role, it's an honor and a privilege to accept this award on behalf of Procter & Gamble," he said.
He is also thrilled to be part of a company that truly appreciates that the Hispanic audience "is a very important consumer segment."
Hispanic buying power will reach almost $1.2 trillion by 2011, about six times what it was in 1990, according to the Selig Center for Economic Growth at the University of Georgia. The U.S. Census Bureau projects that Hispanics will constitute approximately one-quarter of the total U.S. population by 2050.
While TNS Media Intelligence reported an overall decrease for advertising in Spanish-language media in the first half of 2009 (though much less than the general-market dip that Nielsen reported), P&G remains at the top of the list of advertisers in Hispanic TV. According to the Advertising Age 2009 Hispanic Fact Pack, P&G spent over $184 million in Hispanic advertising in 2008, up 15.4% from its 2007 levels.
As for his early career shift, Sandoval said it all makes sense now when he looks back. "What dawns on me is the fact that marketing is all about staying in touch with people and communicating effectively with them," he said. "And people and communication are two of my passions."