Interview by Yash Panchal


Mr. Clifford Lobo is currently the General Manager – Marketing at Prime Focus Academy of Media & Entertainment Studies. He is an experienced individual with over 17 plus years’ experience in Marketing, Operations, Events, Training spanning companies like Ctech Pvt. Ltd., Tech Mahindra, Dun & Bradstreet, Quadrum Solutions, Neoniche Integrated Solutions.

Mr. Lobo has led team sizes ranging from 10 – 150 and delivered benchmarking performances and won many accolades with all the companies. He is well-known for good, innovative marketing strategies and great team building capabilities with some consistent result oriented benchmarking performances.

Mr. Clifford Lobo on his experience in the education industry

The education industry is growing and the growth is there for all to see. It’s been an evolving industry. If you look at how it’s grown in the last few years, there’s a lot of scope and potential in it. If you look at where we’re working right now, in the VFX space and animation and some fantastic work in terms of happening in India, there’s an enormous growth predicted till 2025 and beyond for this field. The industry has grown at a phenomenal rate of 20% and we have more expected with the rate at which its going. The success of movies like Baahubali and Dangal has resulted in increased focus on high budget and regional demand. I’m very happy to be part of the industry and seeing it grow and play my part.

Leadership style of Mr. Lobo

I would not differ and go away from the conventional leadership, but you need to try a few things which have not been tried the tested way. So, sometimes you go a little unconventional.
In the earlier roles it was about team management , getting the team culture and setting the objective right. Here its more of decision making , doing your research , seeing the trends , setting the brand objective , awareness and making the brand bigger and taking the reach to the student community. Right now, we’re looking interacting with students through seminars & workshops because the first thing is: either you reach out to the students or you wait for the students to reach out to you. There should be a good enough balance for both of them. That’s what is working for us well , creating whole lot of awareness making them also believe and the like the part which they can play in the future. The more and more you impact the students positively , where you give them the right awareness, right knowledge, the more they understand what they need to do for themselves. That’s how they reach out to you! The response has been overwhelming and happy to see the direction they choose and even at the seminars , the intelligent questions they come up with and blow you off with their curiosity and knowledge.

Challenges to deal with

Well, the challenges are definitely there! Reaching out to students of PAN India as they have different cultures is one of the largest challenges. One needs to understand locally what things work for them and how one can reach out to them, make them aware and take them in the right direction. Most of them are not aware as to what and how the education industry in the VFX and animation works in urban and rural side! If you look at the metros, people are well versed because they go to the theatres, the youth is very much into movies and technology. The phone has become so important and there is some awesome content that is available to the young generation and the exposure to AVCG(Animation , Visual Effects ,Gaming & Comics). They keep in-line and in touch with the technology. So, for them, grasping knowledge is not a big problem. But if you look at the rural sectors, where the target is on lot of the youth to come and join the industry, its a big challenge in reaching out to them and creating that awareness, the curiosity is high though. The exposure is not that great unlike the urban youth. We have just about started reaching out to them, the road is a long way, the more the awareness and more you can make a positive impact.

The curriculum of Prime Focus Academy ensuring best practice of industry

Prime Focus has been part of the industry and also the industry for a long time. I think PF has been at the forefront of driving VFX. The current trend now is to take this across whole of PAN India. If you look at the curriculum, it’s nicely divided into short-term training programs where these guys get a good chance of doing the program in a short-term period, immediately getting into the industry training, being absorbed in live projects and also getting a stipend, which is a double advantage. Also there are long term programs where the focus is more on skilling them the right way basis the industry standards , prepares them well ahead where they are more industry ready.

Changes noticed in the education industry over the years

It’s the will to learn which is the most important factor today, if you look at the various initiatives taken by the Government, you look at Skill India. There’s been a lot of change and transition that have happened in the past few years. If you look back at the years when we were studying, we hardly had any options. Given the options that every student has now, you can choose from anything.

Establishing a cordial relation with the students

The first thing for me to get to know them , how they want to proceed ahead and how they want to shape their career. We have taken the route of seminars  where we get a good chance to get up close , make them aware about the media & entertainment indystry, reached out to many cities, a lot of colleges have invited us to create a platform necessary . We have the numbers provided by FICCI, where there is as much as 30% - that’s roughly about 4500-5000 people required within the next 3-4 years and that’s quite a lot. How do you get them ready with the right training is the next question.

So, that’s where we come into the fore. We try and reach out to all these colleges, we establish a good relation with the student fraternity, we see a lot of interest out there and potential out there. The only questions are: Do they what to take the next step? Do they really want to take that up as a career? That’s where we come into play.

Goals in mind for the institute’s future

The goal is simple. We have the numbers that we need to try and achieve them. We have a plan to achieve those numbers as well. What we’re trying to do is reach as many colleges, as many student community as possible. Social media is also helping us to reach out. Whenever we go to any college, there’s a lot of encouragement that comes from the management.

A lot of colleges have also been wanting to do MoUs to extend that further so that there’s a lot of help that can be provided to the students. So, the relationship is taking a turn for the better. I’m sure we’re looking at a better future for the students when it comes to VFX and animation.
Marketing activities happening in various cities to create the brand identity , brand recall and concurrent activities and events to make the necessary presence. Colleges invite us to part of their events as panellists , placements reach out for wanting their students to be part of the industry. More and more such engagement making us reach there steadily

Suggestions for the current youth

Learn as much as possible, be very open to change, be open to learning. Spend time with the  right people , have the right mentors to guide you for direction and if you have the will, I’m sure you’ll achieve all your dreams!