Dr. Jacinta Dsilva
Visiting Assistant Professor
Modul University in Dubai, UAE
Q1. Please share your educational and professional journey?
I come from a humble background and my journey has been quite interesting I must say, my name is Dr Jacinta Dsilva and I have achieved my PhD from Coventry University, Coventry, UK in the year 2017. I completed my Master’s in business administration with Karnataka State Open University, Mysore with a specialization in Marketing and Consumer behavior. I completed my Masters in Commerce in Mumbai University with a specialization in Human Resources Management. As mentioned earlier my journey has been interesting, lets talk a little bit about my journey, I lost my mother on a Christmas eve in an accident, when I was 5 years old. I was left with three younger siblings, my father worked in a glass-making company. So, surely, education was not the only priority in my life but to make things work out for the younger ones, therefore, I would not say that I always wanted to be in the teaching profession.
I studied in a regular catholic school with some great teachers which I believe is a lot to do with why I am a teacher today. My surroundings and circumstances taught me a lot including my schooling period since it is an integral part of what I am today. I am indebted to my alma mater for instilling the values of small things in life. I completed my bachelor’s degree in a government college, and this was a turning point in my life. During school time I was a quiet girl, who was unable to face large classes due to lack of confidence but I decided that I will have to make the change in myself. I worked very hard on social interaction and work towards participating in different activities in the college. I joined the National Cadet Corps (NCC), a big step I took in my life and never regretted. I was intrigued by the uniform and the discipline it brought to some of my classmates. It gave me more confidence and I would say that it was the best decision of my life. I went to several camps and parades and was awarded the best word of command. NCC taught me skills such as leadership, networking and other innumerable things which, I believe, I would not have learnt otherwise.
As soon as I completed my bachelor’s, I joined work as an assistant to Human Resource Director and she was a woman, a great personality, ferrous and amazing decision-maker. It was challenging to work with her as she pushed me beyond my limits, at first, I was upset that she was trying to give me took much work but it made me confident day by day to work at her level so much so that, I gained her confidence in six months and represented her in many tasks in her absence. My first job gave me the courage to study further and I started studying my Masters in Human Resource Management at Mumbai University. I completed my Master’s degree while I was working and taking care of my siblings but I am humbled with the support I have received from my father and siblings.
I am going to narrate another interesting story, I received a marriage proposal just after completing my masters wherein my husband would work in Saudi Arabia and would have to stay in Udupi (a place in Karnataka, India). Surprisingly, there was no pressure from my father to accept the proposal, and he allowed me to take such a big decision especially being a girl and from India I would not expect my father to allow me to take such a decision. I will always be grateful to my father for showing such confidence in my decision. I was nervous but not puzzled because decision making naturally came to me at a very young age. I was supposed to be married and travel to Mangalore from Mumbai and I agreed to it.
When I reached Udupi after marriage, I realized that the language and the lifestyle are completely different than what I was used to. It all seemed fine at the beginning but, the reality hit me after few months into my marriage, as the place was too slow for a Mumbai based girl, the language was different, and I could not communicate with, most people, I met. I started applying for jobs to make sure that I keep myself busy. It was tough at the beginning as I could not communicate in the local language and most of the day to day interactions were in Kannada or Tulu (the local languages used in Karnataka) even the signboards on the road were in Kannada, therefore, I faced quite a few challenges there.
Finally, I was hired by St Agnes College, Mangalore and I started my teaching career in 2001. At the end of my first lesson, I understood that I could do a great job and felt I was in the right profession and since then I haven’t looked back. I enjoyed my time at St Agnes College and had colleagues who helped me understand the local language and other related information about the place. During the time, I worked at St. Agnes College I completed my MBA with Karnataka State Open University, Mysore. I had to travel to Mysore to complete my studies and exams, I received a lot of support from my mother in law and brother in law to complete the studies.
I worked at St Agnes College for five years and then moved to Dubai in 2006 since my husband’s workplace changed and Dubai was a place to be. I was thrilled and perplexed at the same time when my husband asked me to join him in Dubai. I was thrilled because who would not want to go to Dubai and perplexed because I would have to leave the place which took me five years to settle. Nevertheless, in 2006, I travelled to Dubai along with my three and half year old daughter.
Life in Dubai was like marrying again since I had to adjust with many new things including the weather, the culture and most importantly my immediate family; my husband and daughter. In a foreign country with no extended family around and a small child is quite challenging but gradually life came on track all thanks to my husband. I again started looking for work, but it wasn’t very easy since I did not have any UAE work experience, therefore, to support my family, I started working in my daughter’s school as a teacher to primary classes, I always believed no work is small or big and was happy to teach small children even though I had five years of teaching experience in a college. I moved from one school to another teaching higher grades and enriching my learning curve and teaching experience with different grades.
In 2008, I started working as a credit controller in Barclays Bank, UAE to get some corporate level experience and to see if I fit into a different mould but three months into the job, I realized that I was missing something. The job was good, and I was made team leader after 3 months into the job, but I still did not feel satisfied for some reason. I again started applying to different colleges but since there were limited colleges and universities in Dubai in 2008 compared to now, it was tough to find one. But again, an interesting thing happened to me, I received a call from Emirates Aviation College (now called Emirates Aviation University). The program chair of the business department instantly hired me for a part-time course and began my journey again. I was now working with the bank during the day and teach in the evening. The first day of my class at EAU again re-assured me that this is the place to be. So, after my contract period with Barclays, I resigned and completely joined Emirates Aviation University (EAU). Students in EAU came mainly from Emirates working parents and were multi-cultured. I enjoyed working with them since I learnt about different cultures which helped me deal with at times unique problem with their behavior, personality and studying habits. I worked with my students and helped them not only get better at their studies but supported them emotionally and counselled them whenever they needed to be heard.
In 2013, I moved to Higher College of Technology (HCT), an all-local Emarati (local people of the UAE) University. Before joining, I had heard several reservations about Emarati students and therefore had apprehensions about Emarati students but, when I entered my class, all my apprehensions were broken. I was teaching all men class and to my surprise, they were so down to earth, always lowered their eyes (since in the Emarati culture the man does not directly look into the eyes of a female). It was a great journey teaching both men and women and greatly appreciated their differences. One thing I would love to mention regarding my Emarati students is that they love their teachers, they treat them with at most care and respect and will come around to support them for anything. I have taught some wonderful students during the six years of teaching at HCT and they have a special corner in my heart. In 2018, I completed my contract and moved out of HCT to explore more opportunities and decided to work as an adjunct faculty. Since then, I have worked with some amazing places such as the University of Wollongong in Dubai, University of South Wales, Modul University and S.P. Jain College in Dubai. Presently, I am working with Modul University and will continue to work with my other places in September again.
Q2. What did attract you towards teaching instead of any corporate job?
As I mentioned in my story earlier, I was not naturally bent towards teaching in my schooling years but I admired how some of my teachers would conduct the class to make the subject interesting and I believe that has been with me for a long time. I realized that I have some traits of a teacher during the college days when I would teach accounting to a group of friends but never thought I would take up teaching as a profession. I worked in the Human Resource department, administration and banking as well as working with my father in his business, however, whenever I am with the students, I feel the adrenaline rush within me, it feels completely fulfilling and satisfaction of the work I am doing, therefore, I would say that I was born to be a teacher and would continue to be one for as long as, I can.
Q3. How do you handle stress in this fast and competitive life?
I follow the abbreviation ‘KISS’ keep it simple and sweet. Yes, life has become competitive and we all are running in the rat race for name, fame and other materialistic things in life. My formula in life is, believe in sincerity and hard work and not a rat race, I would say that life will be simple and easy to live. I have noticed that God has been very kind towards me and has blessed me with immense opportunities and challenges in my life and his immense support whenever I needed it the most, therefore, the first thing I do in the morning is I do a small prayer thanking God for waking me up to see the beautiful day, it gives me the strength to face all the challenges and another important thing I do is prepare a To-do-list, it helps me in prioritizing things and I have noticed it is the biggest part of keeping stress at bay. I enjoy what I do and do what I enjoy, therefore, I do not take the stress and therefore, probably, have not visited a doctor for stress-related reasons.
Q4. Where do you want to see yourself after 10 years in career?
I enjoy teaching and every aspect of teaching, therefore, in 10 years, if God permits, I would want to impart knowledge to the underprivileged children especially those who cannot afford to go to high-end colleges and universities. I would want to open my school and university where I can impart knowledge and improve many lives in my country. I would want to impart 21st-century skills to everyone and make them equipped to the future workplaces.
Q5. What was your Thesis topic in PhD? Please share some brief about it?
Now, this is again an interesting story, I always saw aeroplanes flying high around my place of dwelling and as a child, I was fascinated by everything of that industry. The first time I sat on an aeroplane (after my marriage), I realized that I would want to study more about the airline industry and therefore when there was an opportunity, I worked on the proposal which covered the marketing and service quality aspects in the airline industry. The thesis was an interesting phase for me because it taught me perseverance and patience. I registered for the PhD program in 2010 with a foreign university since most of the Indian universities asked me to find a professor if I want to complete my PhD but unfortunately, I could not find one. The thesis focused on service quality aspects of Low-Cost Carriers. It is fascinating to investigate how the price is not a differentiator in the low-cost industry, since every competitor is working on keeping their prices low, the differentiator is the service quality provided by the low-cost carriers which keep them in the business.
Q7. Which one skill do you like most about yourself? Do you update yourself in terms of education?
Communication is the skill that I enjoy the most; it allows me to remove the barriers between young and old. I believe that this skill has helped me grow in my teaching profession especially to connect with my students to understand them better and communicate with them at their level. It has also supported me to collaboratively work with different teams and bridge the gap between my teams, the program and the university vision.
From my college days, I developed an amazing habit of reading whenever I had time from my busy life. Reading made me feel updated and it supported my thinking and understanding very early in my life. As a business faculty, I make sure that I read to update my knowledge on recent trends in the business-related activities both in India and worldwide. I always make it a point to participate in local as well as international conferences and even though I am very new in the field of research I work with research teams to publish. Not only do I push myself to read and participate in different academic activities but also push my students to work towards participating in research-related activities and work with them closely to make sure that they are confident while they are presenting their work to the academic fraternity.
Q8. What did attract you towards Business Management and Tourism?
My father started a small business of imitation jewellery soon after my mother’s death, to meet ends. I would see him work very hard during the day he would go to work and, in the evening, he would do small orders that he received. It was tough for him since he was learning the trade, gradually his work started increasing and he needed additional hands to support and naturally being the eldest in the family I was automatically consumed in the work. So, right from school time, I developed an interest in business-related activities. I learnt operations and logistics management by seeing how he would organize deliveries from suppliers to the packers and further to the final retailers. I learnt the manufacturing elements such as the assembly line, quality assurance and quality control, packer and at times even do the intricate work of converting raw metals into beautiful accessories. Therefore, soon after my high school I joined a bachelor’s in business and easily understood the concepts since I was doing all of that since my childhood.
I started teaching tourism at Emirates Aviation University as I had a flair for tourism-related subjects. During my college days, I would read and analyse how different tourists destinations market themselves to attract more tourists. I wanted to enrol in IATA courses but due to lack of time I could not fulfil my dreams, therefore, I used online sources to update myself on tourism-related information. After joining EAU, I was interested in understanding the positive and negative impacts of tourism on the environment and therefore, I have now moved into learning and understanding sustainability aspects and its impacts.
Q9. How do you motivate students to excel in their academics and career?
For a person to be called a leader he/she need to have followers similarly, for a teacher to be called a teacher you need to have students. I have always believed in empowering my students and equipping them with the right kind of knowledge. I try to use different ways to motivate my students to excel in their life. Since, I am teaching the present generation who is technology savvy, I use technology such as Kahoot, and other interactive software to help them understand the subject in a better and interactive manner. My aim always has been and will be to encourage students to understand the subject in such a way that they can realistically apply them into their life rather than just learn for one semester and forget.