Meet Bernardo Freitas, Nova SBE alumnus, who took a different path from his academic training and pursued a successful sports career. In this interview, he talks about how he pursued his dreams and goals and how important was Nova SBE during this path.
What are you currently doing? And what is the most rewarding characteristic of your career?
I’m currently working as a professional sailor, where I’m part of several teams and where I get to help them achieve their goals. The most rewarding characteristic of my career is to be able to work doing what I love the most. I get to travel, and I also get the chance to work with people from different backgrounds.
Have you always been fascinated by the sailing world? What was your path and why did you decide to change your route considering what you learned with your Bachelor’s?
To be honest, since the day I've started sailing, at eight years old, something inside me changed. I dreamt about it since I can remember, and my dream in life was to make it to the Olympic games and represent my country without really knowing how to do it.
Like most children who grow up playing sports, there comes a time when we must make decisions that put our future at risk. The day came when I decided to start an Olympic campaign while I started my business administration course at Nova SBE. As my hobby became my job, having to practice seven days a week, I had to spend many hours a day in between obligations and dealing with my parents so I wouldn't stop studying.
It was a tough time, where I had to leave a lot of my social and family life behind, but eventually, everything came together. And aside from having a Bachelor's degree, I took my chances and chased a career in sailing and focused on it 100 %. I never pictured myself having a desk job, and after I decided to give my dream a go, I saw that with perseverance and hard work, it was possible to make it my day-to-day job.
Who or what experiences had an impact on your career path?
Many people along the way helped make it possible, not only coaches and friends but most importantly, my family, who never doubted me even when I did. The most rewarding experience was the London 2012 Summer Olympics. It was the result of years of hard work, blood, sweat, and tears – something that I’ll never forget, a life-time experience and a door-opener for many other opportunities that led into where I am today.
What do you know now that you would have liked to know when you were graduating?
I would love to know that it was the right decision, but life is all about the mystery and our decisions. Either we are right, or we learn.
Which skills have you acquired with your academic experience, and what skills have been vital for your career?
Besides building a sailing team, managing sponsors and budgets, ordering parts, and managing people and salaries, I love to explain to people who don’t have any idea that being part of a sailing team onboard a boat is very similar to being part of a company.
There is a leader, strategist, tactician, and many other people with similar positions on board that for the boat to sail fast and win races, everyone needs to perform their tasks at their best, listen to each other, and respect the chain of command.
So, I see my academic experience as crucial regarding this set of skills.
How did you get where you are? What steps did you take, and what advice would you give to those starting something?
To be where I am today, I had to work hard and, even when sometimes nothing seemed right, giving up was not an option.
I think all athletes will say these words, but it makes the difference between those who get somewhere and those who disappear on the way.
The most important thing for me is to know exactly where you are, to take every opportunity to learn from the best, and even when doing something you don't like, smile and enjoy those moments because they are the pieces that put the puzzle together.
My decision to leave my "business management" career behind was not an easy one, and above all, it was not accepted by everyone. Some people called it crazy and said it was time to get a decent job, but here's my advice: there will be no one who believes more and wants more than you do. Go ahead!
What memories from your time as a Nova SBE student do you hold dear?
In addition to falling asleep in some classes because I got so tired after a workout, it was a great and challenging time. We met a lot of people along the way and set up some cool parties!
I cannot forget some teachers who understand what I was doing and made an extra effort so that I could continue studying.
What advice can you give our current students?
Don't cling to the conventional way. Your diploma does not define your course of life. It just offers the right tools to help create the reality of your dreams. There are thousands of opportunities available. Find what you love the most. Set goals and go for it!