No one can take Goa out of me: Schubert Fernandes

This week, I got a chance to interview the youngest Sr. VP at MSLGROUP India. Well, he’s a Goan, of course! Here goes the link to the story that appeared in The Goan on Saturday. And below is the complete unedited interview.

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When did you leave Goa and why?
After I completed my graduation in 1998, I started looking for a fulltime job. Until then, I used to engage myself with some part-time gigs that were mostly related to music. In 2000, I started working with an advertising agency in Goa and would also compere for parties, drum with bands in hotels side-by-side. Despite having a fulltime job and managing other gigs, my mother wasn’t convinced enough. So she was very keen on packing me off to Bombay. According to her, I was to find my “proper” job in this city.

What brought you to Bombay?
So when I came (more like when I was sent) to Bombay, I put up with my older brother at a club in Byculla. Since I was supposed to enrol myself to a one-year course at Xavier Institute of Communication (XIC), my mother sent me with some money to answer the exam. But I couldn’t imagine leaving Goa. So I faked the interview, said I didn’t get through, packed my bag and went back home. I stayed in Goa for a year, but then my mother sent me back to Bombay. However, this time around, I didn’t want to take an opportunity for granted. Unlike the previous year, I gave the interview at XIC, and because I’m talkative, my professor advised me to take up Public Relations.

Did you always want to become a publicist? If yes, why? If no, what were your career plans?
All along, I’ve been an average kid. If I passed in algebra, I would flunk in geometry. Same was the case with Hindi and Konkani. So I was definitely looking at a career that didn’t involve mathematics or logic. And the only option was advertising. Much later, I realised this field isn’t a cakewalk.

How long have you been working for?
In Mumbai, I’ve been working for 14 years. In Goa, I started working when I was already in college part time and then a year of fulltime.

With which company did you start your career?
After completing my post-graduation course at XIC, I kick-started my all-new career with a Public Relations company called Hanmer & partners (Now MSLGROUP India) as a trainee. I lingered for four years before I decided to switch sides. I joined Asian Paints and managed corporate communication for two years. And then, like a thorough Goan, I did a year stint in Dubai in the same field. Dubai wasn’t challenging. All the action, without a second thought, was in Bombay, in India. So before it was too late, I returned to this city and joined Hanmer & Partners once again, but this time, I joined as a Principal Consultant.

When I first came to Bombay in 2000, no one took me seriously. Why you ask? Because I was from Goa. They would always me questions related to how long I sleep, how much feni I drank every day. I am a peace-loving guy, so I didn’t react, but I wanted to reassure everyone that we Goans can be great at our work.

From a Principal Consultant, in 2008, I was promoted to an Associate Vice Presidents designation. In 2010, I jumped the rung and took the title of Vice President. This year, I became a Sr. Vice President.

What does your current job profile include?
My area of specialization is Corporate. Apart from this I also look after the offices in Delhi and Kolkata along with my team in Bombay. Next year, my focus is going to be in developing a strategic consulting specialisation for the company. This would include public affairs, crisis management etc.

Now I’m doing corporate, but I have also done PR for telecom, B2B, real estate, agriculture and power.

Along with this, I also deliver lectures at XIC.

What according to you led you towards success?
I don’t think I’m successful yet, but I’m happy with what I’ve achieved. I’ve given 11 years to MSLGROUP. It’s important to be loyal and a consistent perform couple with patience. Today, everyone wants to be a genius in a day. We need to allow the organisation to recognize us and give us back what we deserve.

Through your entire career, what did you get right and what did you get wrong?
I believe that there is no shortcut to success. All along, only hardwork and passion guided me. Without passion, we can achieve very little. This is the thinking that has always kept me in good light. Also, I don’t have too many expectations from life and I think this is what keeps me satisfied.

Would you also consider this your strengths?
I am an extremely passionate person, and that’s my root strength. Apart from this, when I look back at my career, I’m very content in life. My ambitions are very limited. When you live life and expect less, we’re always on the upper side of being happy.

What are the challenges you face as a publicist? What the toughest task about being a publicist?
Initially, coming from Goa to Bombay by itself was a great challenge! Keeping up with the pace was the biggest challenge. It’s also the kind of exposure deficit a Goan would experience when s/he comes to a city like this. More often than not, I would find myself trapped in an “what is this? What is that?” spot. Before I came to Bombay, I would assume that the economy is measured as per the number of fish a fisherwoman gives in a vantto.

Would you ever consider going back to Goa and starting something of your own? Why?
Since I’ve been in Bombay for over a decade, I’ve adapted to this pace and lifestyle. If Goa can accommodate this way of life, I might go back, but not before the next 10 years.

What does your family have to say about you?
Whenever I go to Goa for holidays, my family is not quite aware of what I do. They don’t know me as a person any longer. I am definitely not the same person I was when I left home. This city has changed me for the good. Whenever I go to Goa, it’s just for a weekend and for Christmas. They only see the causal person I am, and not the actual Schubert I am when I am at work.

If you weren’t a publicist, what would you be?
I’d be in show business. Because that’s always been my first love. I would love to be playing for a band, doing shows, putting together concerts, conceptualising theme parties, trying new forms of art and entertainment, maybe.

Where do you see yourself five years down the line?
Ummm.. I will definitely still be in Bombay or some office in Asia, doing what I’m known to do best.

What according to you leads to many Goans leaving Goa?
I don’t think too many people consider Bombay as an option. Many of us are comfortable with the limited options Goa provides and the remaining pursue professional studies and then go where destiny takes them. There are very few who think of coming to Bombay, and slogging it out. I think it takes courage to leave Goa for a city like Bombay. I don’t think people in Goa know what people in Bombay do. When I go to Goa, I only say I’m into advertising. A lot of my relatives don’t understand what exactly I do.

I love Goa, wherever I go, no one can take out Goa from me. I always look forward to my doctor’s visits to Goa. I want my bowl of sausages and kaalchi kodi sitting on the breakfast table, eagerly waiting for me to arrive. And not forgetting a huge mug of black coffee. I miss rose omelette a lot! I wish someone could make these in Bombay as well.

It’s also important to get into a good organisation. It acts as a huge support system when you need to adjust in this place. I love it when people call me a paowala,

And if you’re another Goan in Bombay, Schubert has a message for you: “You guys are doing the right thing. Hang in here.”

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