Latino 'Undercover Boss' Employee Shows Pride In His Job and his Ethnic Roots
Chiquita is definitely not just about bananas.
Recently the hit CBS show 'Undercover Boss' revealed that the company famous for that tasty fruit has a lot more diversity than most people know. The latest episode featured Chiquita Brands International CEO Fernando Aguirre going undercover to work with some of his company's employees. Chiquita has a very definitive Latino flavor and influence that goes far beyond its famous name. Not only is the CEO of Latino heritage, but also 50-percent of the work force is Latino as well.
Among those employees is 25-year-old Miguel "Magic" Partido, who works as a dryer operator for the company's line of packaged salads. Miguel, whose friends call him Magic because he has a knack for magic tricks, was among the employees who appeared on the recent 'Undercover Boss' program, showing Aguirre the ropes.
Miguel showed Aguirre how to do his job operating the lettuce drying machines and more, a task the Chiquita CEO found to be far more demanding than he realized. In fact, Aguirre realized he couldn't do the job nearly as well as Miguel and was impressed with the young employee's skills as well as his dedication to his family.
When Aguirre to revealed his true identity to Miguel at the company headquarters, Aguirre rewarded his employee by placing him in a management training program and offered to serve as Miguel's mentor. Aguirre also gave Miguel with a $10,000 scholarship for his children's education.
AOL Jobs chatted with Miguel, a proud, young, ambitious Mexican-American, a few days before his episode aired to talk about his brush with TV fame and rubbing shoulders with the boss.
Q. What was it like having your CEO working with you?
A. I didn't know what was going on. I was just told to show this person how to do the job and I was trying to make sure he got the full feel of how to do that. I was just trying to present my best effort to show how the job is done.
Q. Was your boss a good worker on the show?
A. Well, I guess age is a big factor in this kind of work because it's demanding, so his age didn't help him too much. Most of us are a little younger, so if he was a little younger as well, he'd probably be a good candidate to do this particular job.
However, I was a little surprised to see he was actually able to withstand the coldness where we have to work. For him to not shiver from the temperature was impressive; for a lot of us, the cold took a couple of days to get used to.
Q. How did your family and friends react when they heard you were going to be on the show?
A. My mom and dad were born in Mexico and they're so proud. My mom is especially proud of me knowing that I'm doing something with this company and that I'm going somewhere within the company too. My dad had a heart attack a couple of months ago, so hopefully this show will help him feel even better and recover even more.
I have two kids, one's a 9-year-old and one's a 4-year old, and they're excited that I'm going to be on TV. Every day they ask me when the show is going to come on and I can't wait to see their faces. My wife is a little nervous because I haven't told her what I said on the show. But, everyone overall is pretty excited
Q. What have some of your co-workers said to you about being on the program?
A. A lot of them still don't know what kind of show it is, so they'll understand it more after it's aired. Many at work were excited that the cameras were there. Once the show comes out, they're going to be even more excited to find out that our boss, the CEO, was there and no one even knew about it at the time. It's something amazing for everyone.
Q. How do you feel about being an employee at Chiquita?
A. The department I'm in has a lot of people working in it and they all have pride in their work. Everyone puts in a good effort and works to not get left behind. On the line when we're working on the product, and if someone sees someone going faster than they are, then they push themselves to go faster. It's always a good workout every day because there is a lot of action and testosterone flying around. Even though it's cold in there, you work so hard, you still come out sweaty, but proud of the job you've done.
Q. What is it like working in an environment that is so supportive of Latinos?
A. Personally I feel very comfortable every day going to work knowing that I have support from the company itself and the people that work there. It feels great. Every day, I wake up with a smile knowing that I have a job to do. I'm excited and proud to be part of this company.
Q. How important is your pride as a Latino working in the United States?
A. Pride is a very important thing for most men, most Latino men. Being proud of what you do as a job is the best thing you can feel. It certainly is for me personally. We work hard for our families, for our kids and for our parents so we can have better lives like everyone else wants to have.
Q. What do you enjoy most about your job?
A. What I enjoy most is being able to control and present a product that I would feel safe feeding to my kids. Also, it feels good to know that I'm coming to work where there's an extended family. We call each other cousins, brothers, compadres... everyone has their little nicknames. It's great to know that you're working with people who aren't just friends, they're also like family.
Q. Were you inspired by your boss after meeting him in this way?
A. A lot of people here didn't know that the CEO of Chiquita was Latino -- and now that they do know that, they're not only proud of Fernando; but also, of our race. There's a lot of comments now like, "If he can do it, why can't we do the same thing?"