About the Author
In the earliest years of his life, Oscar lived in Karachi, Pakistan. Oscar immigrated (solo!) to Montreal, Canada when he was sixteen years old, immediately after being awarded his Cambridge O Level certificate. In Montreal, he attended Dawson College, and then went on to study electrical engineering at McGill University. After working as a design engineer for many years, he received his MBA from the University of Ottawa and worked in the field of technology marketing, most notably at a highly-successful tech start-up in Silicon Valley, California. Oscar has a passion for learning. He recently earned a Diploma of Higher Education in Astronomy. He lives in Ottawa with his wife and life-long friend, Darlene.
Oscar is working on his second book subtitled, A Short Story of the Colourful History of the Cosmic Distance Ladder. Stay tuned!
An Interview with the Author
EMBA Alumnus Remembers his Past and Celebrates the Future
An interview with Oscar Pinto – Class of 1997
With all the hustle and bustle of our everyday lives, it is easy to forget to pause and take note of where you are and where you came from. EMBA alumnus, Oscar Pinto has done just that in his recently published memoir.
You graduated from the Executive MBA program in 1997. What has been keeping you busy since then?
I cannot believe it has been that long! My focus and career until the Executive MBA had been primarily technical in nature—I have a degree in electrical engineering; but I have always had a parallel interest in finance and marketing. The formal MBA accreditation opened the door for a marketing position in Silicon Valley, California, where I had the exceptional good fortune of working at a technology start-up that epitomized Geoffrey Moore’s, “Inside the Tornado,” the famous book on hypergrowth strategies. I was able to semi-retire after my California adventure and took the opportunity to pursue my many other passions for which I never had time—summer and winter endurance sports, learning French, coding for websites, travelling in Europe… I also enrolled in an astronomy and astrophysics distance-learning program at a university in the U.K. and earned a diploma, the first step towards a degree in astronomy. About two years ago I started writing my memoir.
What is the title of your memoir and what is it about?
The title of my memoir is “Farewell Dundas Street.” It is the name of the congested, chaotic street in Karachi, Pakistan, where I was born and lived for the first sixteen years of my life. When I was eight years old, inspired by a talk at school, I knew that when I grew up I wanted to be an engineer and I wanted to live in the Western world. My memoir is about how I made those dreams and aspirations a reality. It also tells of my life in Karachi, a stark contrast to my life in Canada.
What inspired you to write your memoir and how long did it take you to write it?
Today, even I have difficulty imagining my beginnings. And so, I wanted to capture my still vivid memories in a book for my daughter and grandson to know their heritage and ancestry, and to impress upon them that anything is possible if you set your mind and actions to achieving it.
It took a lot longer to write the book than I had originally anticipated. Memories trickled in and often one memory led to others. It was particularly challenging to weave those individual memories into a coherent story. I must have had at least a hundred revisions!
The book recounts memories of your family. Were they involved in helping you write it?
When I left for Canada in 1973, I had bid a permanent farewell to my family, not knowing when I would see them again, but we remained in close contact by exchanging hand-written letters almost weekly. I have saved all my parents’ letters and they were a source of many memories. My book cover is adorned with one of these letters. My parents eventually immigrated to Canada, and over the years I asked many questions and enjoyed hearing their stories. Unfortunately, both my parents passed away a few years ago.
Having never written a book before, what did you learn about the writing/publishing process? What has been the greatest challenge of this project? Would you consider writing another book?
Writing and publishing a book opens up a whole new world—the editing process and adhering to a specific style, copyright laws, book interior layout, cover design, testimonials, distribution channels for print and e-book editions, pricing and wholesale discounts, marketing platforms, book award contests… and there is still a lot more to learn.
The biggest challenge for me as a first-time author is that I need book reviews to get the attention of readers, and I need readers to get book reviews—Catch-22!
I am presently attempting to write a book on an astronomy subject that I studied very early on in the astronomy program, called the “cosmic distance ladder.” I want to tell the story of the ingenious methods and discoveries of the astronomers that were instrumental in progressively “building the ladder.” It will be a much bigger challenge than my memoir.
Your memoir references a letter from your father that urges you to continue learning – what would you like to learn next?
My father’s words have always been my guiding principles, and his letter seems to have resonated with my readers. Multiple reviews are headlined with the same quote—“Drink the brimming cup of life to the full and to the end.” What’s next? Attempting the astronomy book, and then who knows. Undoubtedly, something adventurous, challenging, and exciting!