Meet the Goan: Walter Noronha, Vice President, O&M

Replug of the feature from The Goan on Saturday.

Walter Noronha

Two and a half decades ago, a Goan lad fell in love with a girl named June, but never gathered the courage to confess his love. Years went by, and there was no progress. In 1998, this pretty young lady married another man and the overwhelming distress led Walter Noronha to bury himself under work. However, he wasn’t sure about what he should pursue after completing a degree in Commerce.

Rewinding to his days post junior college, Walter did dabble a bit in the hotel industry, but didn’t like it there. After graduation, he took up a job as a Counter Salesman at India Photographic Company Limited, but as this work was monotonous, he quit and decided to study further. He enrolled himself to a Marketing and Advertising course at Xavier’s Institute of Communication (XIC) in Bombay, but it was still difficult to get a job. So he decided to round it up and completed an MBA in Marketing from Mumbai University. Now, he was ready to venture into the advertising world. Through these years, only one element stayed constant — his love for June.

After completing his studies, Walter got himself a job at advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi where he worked as a management trainee for 11 months. He then moved to Triton Communications where he serviced clients and finally harboured at Ogilvy & Mather and grew to become one of the Vice Presidents of the company in 2010. All along, Walter stayed in touch with the widowed June. A few months into marriage, and June’s husband was diagnosed with cancer. Within two years, he succumbed to the bug leaving June with a son. A decade after June lost her husband, and when Walter knew he’d achieve the unexpected, he proposed to her.

Today, Walter’s biggest achievements are his role at O&M and his wife.

Walter has been loyal to his dream agency O&M since the last 14 years. According to him, if it wasn’t for the heartbreak, he wouldn’t have taken his career this seriously. He has been the recipient of several awards at national as well as international level for Cadbury and Dove, the clients he served for the longest time. Besides this, over the weekend, Loutolim-born Walter is a faculty at Don Bosco Centre for Learning in Kurla where he teaches Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC) to MBA students.

Even though Walter was born to Goan parents in Goa 40 years ago, he has spent most of his life in the city of Bombay. With his mum, who’s been a support all along and also the lady to persuade him to eventually get married to June, Walter continues to converse in Konkani. Otherwise, it could be said that he has shed most of his Goan qualities. Like what, you ask? Walter doesn’t eat fish, pork or beef. “It might sound weird, but I cannot stand the strong odour of fish, I’m allergic to pork and I’ve voluntarily given up beef. But my favourite combination would be the humble chicken Xacuti and rice.”

For more than 15 years, Walter has been developing and managing brands across categories for global as well as local partners. At present, the brands in his basket are Cadbury and Star TV. He also leads the regional team with a remit extending to all of Asia-Pacific.

Despite these achievements, Walter still senses that he hasn’t yet reached the peak of his success. “I would like to soon venture into New Media (Digital Marketing),” he says, adding, “Digital has a lot of potential. Traditional advertising is about brand building, but digital is a planned strategy that is efficient. Again, in traditional advertising, there’s one advertisement targeted to everyone, but in digital there’s a lot of personalisation that can be done.”

Till date, Walter is extremely thankful to his parents for giving him the best education and filling in all his needs at the right time. According to him, Goa has its charm that is passed on to us because we belong to that state. Commenting on his long stay at O&M, he says, “The culture of Ogilvy is such that it feels like a second home. You can get a person out of Ogilvy, but it’s difficult to get Ogilvy out of a person, and with me, neither is possible,” he concludes.

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