"Never overestimate your own wisdom and believe you know more than the person you are dealing with".
Country of origin: Brazil.
Occupation: Consultant and Counsellor. State of Residency: VIC. Favourite place in Australia: Melbourne for its dynamic cultural and gastronomic life. Biggest surprise when arriving to Australia: English,not understanding a single thing
By Cristy Abela
Roger is a Consultant on Latin America, with a particular focus on Education and Research Projects. He is also a Counsellor and Psychotherapist. His main volunteer activity since 2007 is to represent Brazil as Honorary Consul in Victoria. He has helped countless Brazilians with their problems, and helped Australians take work missions to Brazil. He sees his life mission as bringing Brazil and Australia closer.
Contributions to Victoria
One of the first Australian official to develop linkages between Australia and Latin America in the field of education. His work has helped increase the numbers of students from Latin American in Australia, from less than a 1,000 in 1996 to currently over 60,000 a year.
Created relationships between Victoria and Latin America during his role as special adviser to the Victorian Government on a range of activities.
Helped community members through his counselling services.
Tell us your story
My dad visited Australia while he was President of the Junior Chamber of Commerce and fell in love with the country. He decided the family should move to Australia in 1964 as the political and economic situation was worsening in Brazil. Three months after our arrival the military took over the country. I was a teenager when I arrived and I didn’t speak English as it was not taught in Brazil back then. To learn it, I spent a great deal of time reading all of Nevil Shute’s novels, starting with “a town like Alice”. I was fortunate to obtain a good education at an excellent school – Caulfield Grammar. During my time as student, I never felt any sense of discrimination and everyone was very welcoming. I was an active member of the school; I became captain of the debating and chess teams.
I obtained a scholarship to Monash University, where I majored in Politics and Economics, and also studied Spanish and Indonesian to prepare to hopefully join the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA now DFAT) so I could return to live in Brazil. I was accepted to the DFA in the 1974 intake; and over the subsequent 26 years I had postings in Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, France, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador and the Dominican Republic. A year after joining DFA I married an Australia woman and we had two great kids which travelled with us for nearly 18 years. They eventually returned to Melbourne for University.
The family’s arrival made it to the newspapers as there was no record prior to them of a Brazilian family moving here. Photo bottom left: The captain of the ship that brought them to Australia.
In 2000, I wanted to move back to Melbourne to be closer to my children, so I took early retirement and started working in partnership with Frank Advice International. I also started my consultancy business to do work related to Latin America. I worked for many education providers, the Victorian Government on agribusiness and innovation, the Federal Government and some banks and investment companies. In 2011, I completed a Masters degree in Counselling at Swinburne University, and practiced for about 4 years before having to return my focus full time on Latin America; as the demand and interest in developing relationships with the region was on several agendas.
I am still active as a consultant. I currently work for Victoria University, Chisholm Institute and LH Martin as special advisor on Latin American relations. I love the community feel of Melbourne, the diversity and the dynamic cultural and gastronomic life. Love its country towns, the proximity of the water and you won’t believe it, but I love it’s climate.
Caulfield Grammar debating team. Roger middle back row.
Itinerant Life – It was difficult for my family to change life and adapt every 3 years whenever there was a new posting. It was easier for me as I was surrounded by staff and a job similar to the previous one, but the family had to adjust to a new setting with little support. I was lucky they were very supportive. We were very happy living overseas but at times it was challenging. So we made sure we came back to Melbourne in between postings.
Career changes – Changing work from Ambassador to Consultant was a big career change. I went from having almost everything done for me to doing everything yourself. I had to learn how to get invoice for my services, work out payment systems, work to someone else’s agenda, source clients, etc. I was lucky some of my first clients were people I had met during my time as ambassador, whom I had encouraged to take a lunge into Latin America and they were happy to place their trust in me.
Humour – I try to communicate through humour. In most cases I find ways to engage with people in manners that are entertaining but also serious. As humour is different, I have learnt through some funny and sometimes awkward experiences which and where jokes work best.
Business Negotiations – Latin Americans may spend the first hour talking about their families and kids during a work meeting, whilst Australians will go straight to the point. I have taught many clients that, in Latin America, people need to like you as a person first in order for them to place their trust in you.
Open to other cultures – People in Victoria and Australia are generally open to different cultures and curious about them. Racism exists, but it is restricted to a small segment of the population. It is great to see that now Brazilians are becoming increasingly curious about other cultures.
Piece of advice
Be humble – Never overestimate your own wisdom and believe you know more than the person you are dealing with. In most cases they know much more than you.
Persevere – If you fail, try again and again. If you want something really badly just keep trying and look for different avenues to reach your objective. There is more than one way to the top.
Bigger picture – Try to see the bigger picture; otherwise, you won’t have the perspective to achieve your objectives.
In the NEXT few years...
Roger sees himself continuing his consultancy activities and also working on a support group for people experiencing fear and anxiety regarding dying. If you wish to contact Roger email us at firstname.lastname@example.org