Grad Student Finds His Niche as Business Leader

Published: Dec 8, 2008
 In an industry where downsizing and changing customer demands make competition increasingly difficult, University of Tampa graduate student Giovanni Gutierrez has taken just a few short years to find his niche.

Literally.

As the sales and marketing manager of CENTRO Grupo de Communicación, Gutierrez has been able to tap into the Tampa’s sizable Hispanic marketplace to spearhead the creation of two successful regional publications. His success recently earned him the honor of being named one of the top 20 young newspaper professionals by PRESSTIME magazine.

“It just goes to show you that hard work pays off,” Gutierrez said.

Originally from Nicaragua, Gutierrez used his own knowledge of the local Hispanic marketplace to launch CENTRO Mi Diario, a weekly Spanish-language publication, along with its Web site, www.CENTROtampa.com, in 2005. Since then, CENTRO has become one of the Tampa area’s premiere Spanish-language products, the print publication boasting a distribution of 55,000. The publication is a part of Florida Communications Group, which also produces the Tampa Tribune.

“I think the beauty of what we do here is CENTRO is a niche product,” Gutierrez said. "The Hispanic audience is different; newcomers are used to a different way of life and read the newspaper primarily, they're not Internet savvy yet. But at the same time, we don't want to turn off Hispanics who have been here in the U.S. for a while and consume news and information the mainstream way."

A graduate student pursuing dual M.S. in marketing and MBA degrees, his career as a business leader is something Gutierrez himself would not have expected just a few years ago.

He earned an undergraduate degree in biology in 2001, and completed a post-graduate internship doing promotions for the Miramax film company, a job he took in an effort to “explore other opportunities,” he said.

In 2003, he took a job as a recruitment advertising account manager with the Tampa Tribune. From there, he was promoted to his current position in order to launch CENTRO in 2005.

As CENTRO’s success continued to blossom, Gutierrez continued to draw from his knowledge of the local Hispanic market with the introduction in 2007 of Quinceañera – Florida Quince Guide, an annual magazine geared toward Latin American girls planning to celebrate their 15th birthday. In its second year, the magazine saw a 34 percent page increase. The third issue is due out in June.

Gutierrez describes his leadership style as one of a consensus-builder, mining fresh ideas from colleagues who possess unique insights into specific markets and demographics.

“It’s just identifying in your team the strengths that you have and learning from people and bouncing ideas off each other,” he said.

While his time at UT has been relatively short – he is three semesters into his MBA – he credits the University with bettering his on-the-job performance.

The benefits appear to be mutual. As a student, Gutierrez is able to offer much personal insight for his classmates.

“He’s been a tremendous asset to the class because of his professional experience,” said Judith Washburn, associate professor of marketing and director of UT’s MBA program. Gutierrez recently took Washburn’s integrated marketing communications class.

“In applying his own real-world knowledge to the topics we covered, he was able to help the entire class understand new kinds of promotional activities, which is essential for success in a niche environment,” Washburn said.