Legendary Hispanic: advertising executive Dolores Kunda executive director of the Latino Corporate Directors Association (LCDA).

Author:McQuade, George

Chief Executive Officer and marketing expert Dolores Kunda, of Chicago, who recently retired after a successful 30-year career in the advertising world, says she would have liked to have been involved more in politics.

"People like working with people they like, and I wished I had been more political. When one is part of a minority, and Hispanics are becoming less of a minority, we face an unfamiliar power structure in corporations. You need to make friends with people who are in power," she said.

"And it's not selling out; it's not compromising your values. But rather, it's playing the game in a smart way. I think you need to recognize what the power structure is and consider how you fit into it. Then you need to stand up and be counted," Kunda advised. "People should not shy away from politics. Knowledge of politics is needed to move up in your career."

As the founder of one of the top 10 Hispanic advertising and marketing companies in the U.S., Lapiz Integrated Hispanic Marketing, Kunda grew the company from five employees to a team of more than 70 premier advertising professionals. Revenues increased multiple times in a dozen-plus years, resulting in one of the largest and most award-winning multicultural agencies in the country. For more than dozen years from 1999, Kunda exceeded expectations of parent company Leo Burnett Company, Inc., a global advertising agency with 85 offices and 9,000-plus employees worldwide.

Kunda graduated from college in 1977 with a BA in English. Upon graduation, she became a reporter for five years in the pharmaceutical industry. She earned her MBA at Northwestern University, Kellogg Graduate School of Management, in 1984.

"I was recruited out of Northwestern's Business School by Leo Burnett and entered a management training program," she noted. "Because my name is not Spanish, no one knew that I was Latina. 'Kunda' comes from my Dad's Ukrainian last name. I entered the general market, English-language division, at Leo Burnett."

Later, Kunda was recruited to work in Mexico for three years with Burnett, running the Kellogg's business. Returning to the U.S., Kunda founded Lapiz Integrated Hispanic Marketing. Lapiz is a full-fledged agency with a nationwide brand thanks to Kunda. "I went to my small staff and said 'we have to prove we can make money or we'll never be taken seriously,"' she said. "So we started out by figuring out how much money we'd make by charging fees rather than being a service department...

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