One brother is in the US and the other brother, in Dubai. He's had opportunities to go abroad but then, as he says, "I'll continue to be a Bangalore Boy." This son-of-the-soil is Peter Abreo, Manager - Corporate Communications. With deep-rooted convictions such as his on the matter of his domicile, even a Veerappan would consider kidnap of Peter a futile attempt. Politicians are easy bait, not Peter. He won't budge.
His career commenced one day after finishing his B.Com. He joined his dad in the family business, which was in selling investments. Insurance, mutual funds, national savings and stuff like that. "For ten years I sold investments," says Peter. Then came the slump and as the financial markets plummeted, things got tough. It was time to look for an alternate rather than clutch at straws. He had this friend who managed a PR firm. 'Come and work for me' the friend said. Peter didn't know a thing about PR. But then, he decided to give it a shot. Two days into the job and his friend slips in the bathroom and hurts his leg. He's out of action for sometime to come. Now came the tricky one. Do I bail out and abandon ship? Or do I bail my friend out? He pondered the matter a bit and decided to stay on. After all, his friend did give him an opportunity and it would be grossly unfair to let him down.
There's a problem-solving lesson out here. A chance 'slip' by his friend provided Peter the opportunity to manage the show and he made best use of the opportunity rather than duck out. There's another variation, if you like. If you have ten men and only nine hats, the solution is not to cut off one head; it is, rather, to make another hat.
And so Peter the PR man came to stay. That was in 1997 and his first job was in Perfect Relations where he worked for two and half years and then moved to another outfit by name Good Relations and then to 20:20 Media. Lots of relations out there. "While I was with Good Relations I used to service a Swiss IT company called 'Evolun'. And the marketing manager out there joined Digital," recounts Peter. Ten months back he called Peter and asked if he wanted to move. Peter said "Sure' since it didn't involve moving out of Bangalore.
Peter, the Bangalore Boy explains a key difference of PR function in India and internationally. "In India it's limited to only press releases in all publications to position your client suitably. It's more of an image building exercise really. Internationally, it's different. They use non-media stuff like events, speaker opportunities, little bit of advertising and so on. But out here, they concentrate only on press relations." A PR firms that specialize in IT meet people from the press, gets them to attend press conferences or plug into whatever opportunity they can get to build a client's image. Corporate communications is different, "I single handedly take care of all this. Also advertising, events, PR and a little bit of internal relations also," says Peter.
Surprisingly, he wasn't too sure if he'd be up to the task of handling a large corporate organization like Digital. Typically, the all-India operations of a PR firm would be about 150 people and the office where he worked was only 10. And Digital was a 1000-plus members organization. So, there was a colossal difference and Peter must have heard his knees knock against each other. But then, Peter was an eager beaver. He got the right guidance, learnt his way around and in about a month he had settled down. Phew!
"The biggest thing here is one needs to manage things internally. To the PR person from the media, Digital is just another client. But for me, this is my company. One actually wants to go out and talk about Digital. Also, building relationships with people here is most important. Because, for the communications department you need to get the whole of Digital to work for you, rather than you work for the other people" says Peter, like the concertmaster explaining the subtleties of a good musical performance.
Peter will soon move to the Electronics City facility from his workstation on the third floor of Khanija Bhavan. Technically speaking, Electronics City is on the outskirts of Bangalore and not in Bangalore as such. So at last, the Bangalore Boy is in a corner and has to move.
But then, knowing Peter, he'll probably say, "A friend's house is never far."
Note: This story was written when the company was known as 'DIGITAL'.