Sergei Bozhok, the correspondent who got away

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Martin Moodie
Martin Moodie is the Founder & Chairman of The Moodie Report.
Martin Moodie

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What can I do but pretend to be brave?
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There’s no moon, no moon in Paris tonight
And it’s lonely, and that’s what I got Marianne Faithful, No Moon in Paris

Remember Sergei Bozhok? I wrote about him in a Blog a few weeks back. For 13 years and two months Sergei was Business Development Manager for DERA-Vladivostok Co, the biggest duty free retailer in Russia’s Far East of Russia. He was good at his job, popular, respected. And then last August he got kicked in the teeth by the COVID-19 crisis, as passenger traffic plummeted.

For a long while his LinkedIn picture carried the green garland and hashtage of ‘Open to Work’ that so many fine people from our industry now wear in a combination of pain, pride and hope.

One day, it was the pain that prevailed in Sergei’s post. “Today is the day I woke up with some kind of panic in my mind,” he wrote. “The situation doesn’t change for the better no matter what I do. So many questions are running through my brain like crazy horses: What will the future bring to me and my family? Why can’t I get the job I will go to with a smile on my face and harmony in my soul? What else should I do to succeed?

“Fear. It attacks without warning and hits hard. Every time I feel it, I remind myself of Mike Tyson’s words: ‘When I’m having a hard time I keep telling myself that it won’t be any better if I just give up.’ So I stand my ground and make another step forward, I fight my fears and keep not just hoping for the better future but doing all I can to make it real.”

I applauded Sergei’s courage in articulating what so many feel. I asked him to write a guest article for our main website. He called it ‘Searching for a duty free revival in Russia’s Far East’ (you can view it here) and it was full of intelligence and insight.

Last month I dropped Sergei a line to see how he was doing and invited him to become a regular correspondent for The Moodie Davitt Report. Any disappointment I felt at his rejection was offset by the reason behind it. Read on.

“Your idea sounds interesting. And I am very flattered by your words about my skills. Your attitude inspires me very much indeed. I am always ready for new experience, ready to try. My ‘can do’ attitude and my positive approach can bring some value I think. The fact is currently I am getting ready to start working with Marco Passoni and his respected business partner Fabio Bernardini (thanks again for introducing us) at TW.O & Partners. I have a strong intention to return to the Travel Retail and Duty Free industry and do what I love.”

TW.O & Partners is a very good consultancy and advisory firm specialised in commercial activities at airports, rail stations, airlines and cruise ports, with a fine track record of working with leading luxury and premium brands. Sergei has not only found a good home but many admirers through his LinkedIn posts.

His green garland and hashtag have now disappeared. There may be no full moon in Paris tonight in the hauntingly aching words of Marianne Faithful but I suspect a figurative one at least has arrived early in Vladisvostok to shine on a man who had the courage to admit self doubt and the perseverance to overcome. He may be my correspondent who got away but I can’t wait to celebrate that escape with him in person.

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