Mr John Fernandes: Top 28 Questions with the Entrepreneur and the Co-owner of Speedex Key Solutions
Mr John Fernandes is the Co-owner of the Speedex Key Solutions, Mangalore. He is the Director and Chief Mentor of ‘Mangalore Centre for Counselling and Career Management’. Mr John has also been a Head-Coach of Basketball at Aloysius Institutions, Mangalore.
It was a pleasure having a conversation with this eminent personality. A True motivator and a path guider for many. He has been a true source of inspiration to many youngsters. So, let’s unravel the conversation with him.
1) Mr John Fernandes, share with us your childhood memories?
I had quite a fabulous childhood. I was born to humble parents, rose in a middle- class family and had experiences that one would pay for. It was great to be born and raised during the 80s to late 90s. My surrounding was vibrant, super-friendly and co-operative.
Thankfully, I had other kids of the same age group growing up in the same vicinity. We literally were 10-12 friends who, jelled along well and were together, until we reached college. Sometimes, we would be spending hours, playing Cricket and Basketball only to return home during the dinner. I have lots of good memories and experiences to cherish.
2) Mr John Fernandes, Could you please tell us more about your Family?
My father Rony Fernandes is a businessman by trade. He owns one of the oldest Locksmith business in the country i.e Speedex Key Solutions in Mangalore. My mother Rita Fernandes is a home-maker. She hails from Chikmangalore, the famous coffee hub of Karnataka. I have a sister Sylvia, who is a post graduate in MBA (Master of Business Administration) and in MA (Psychology). She is the HOD (Head of Department) for ‘The Department of Counselling’ at St. Joseph’s Boys College, Bangalore. My better half Roshal Fernandes, whom I married in 2016, is a professional Mistress of Ceremonies, a TV host and an anchor.
3) Mr John Fernandes, How important the role of ‘Education’ been in your life?
I believe “Education” is a wide-abstract word and has been misunderstood to be an academic prospect. It is much beyond that. Personally, I can say I have been very fortunate to have joined and completed 17 years of my academic life in the prestigious, St. Aloysius Institutions. We had the best opportunities, to excel in everything that we touched with intent. A sport, Music, Arts, Science, Debate and the list goes on.
It has been a journey that I can’t get over it. We all learnt a great deal from passionate teachers, who always put a shift in it. If I have built a personality that I have today, a lot of credit goes in to the ‘Great Education’ that I have received from the teaching and non-teaching staff, Physical education teachers, Art teachers, Activity guides and Mentors of St. Aloysius Institutions.
4) Mr John Fernandes, You are a co-owner at Speedex Key Solutions, Mangalore. Tell us how your journey began in this platform.
I represent the fourth generation of our ancestral venture Speedex key solutions. It all began when I was nine years old. I threw tantrums and made sure my dad took me along to our shop which was a small 27 sq. ft premise, built under the staircase of an old building. We hardly had the place to sit in there. But, my father had acquired the skills of a genius. I felt as though it was magic on display and it was very exciting for me to just sit and watch my father work.
In course of time, my father started to ease me into the skill part of the trade, which was highly mechanical and technical in nature. I made it a point to spend a lot of my time during holidays, assisting my dad and it all began from there. I instantly could smell the prospect of this business having a wide scope in the years to come. There was a great deal that, I could contribute towards the expansion and growth.
Half a way into my class 12 studies, I made up my mind to dedicate my career into our own business. Hence from PCMB (Physics, Chemistry, Maths, Biology) Science, I then pursued my B.B.M (Bachelor of Business Management) and then M.B.A (Masters in Business Administration) in Human Resources. I joined hands with my father for good. And yes, it has been 12 years since then.
5) Mr John Fernandes, Being a Director and Chief Mentor of ‘Mangalore Centre for Counselling and Career Management’, what are your key responsibilities?
Mangalore Centre for Counselling and Career Management was formerly known as SPEEDEX mentorship solutions, based in Mangalore. It was a part of my career plan to be able to give back to the society, in some form or the other. My background as a sports coach and a former captain of the basketball teams at school and college levels made me aware of my skills, as a natural motivator, team builder and someone who could understand, get along and influence minds. Hence I started the venture keeping in mind the youth and the students .I felt that I could build something that could be able to assist them in an overall development in a very innovative way.
I basically handle most of the counselling and mentoring sessions and plan initiatives and programmes to serve different purposes. We have a group of free lancers who are young Counsellors and Psychologists who serve our clients and help them build their careers under my guidance at my premises. We now have very unique programmes like’ Image Building and makeover’, ‘Sports Psychology’ which are some of the pioneer programs in Mangalore.
6) Mr John Fernandes, What are the inputs you always include in the “Career Guidance Initiatives’?
‘Career Guidance’ is a topic not so new, but each one has got their own thought on it, based on what is their philosophy or on the basis of guiding individuals. I feel despaired to know that so many youngsters get brain-washed or coerced to pursue studies in a particular college and opt for a particular course.
In my opinion, career guidance or career counselling should not be done as a group session. We see many institutions have an annual programme, where they have thousands of students in their auditorium, listening to resource person who will obviously list out the courses in the popular orders. The 75% of students go like “Dude, let us join the same college in Bangalore and take up B.E. (Computer Science)”. Doesn’t do any good, Does it?
I believe in talking to an individual and analysing his/her personality, Interest and abilities even before getting into the unavoidable factors like scope, opportunities etc. Affordability and family background are other important factors. I basically put a lot of onus of Interest levels. If you have it, you can always build up the Abilities. It is not the other way round. It is like, if an individual wants to learn swimming, he firstly needs to develop a keen Interest in learning it. There are no “Born Swimmers”. So based on his/her Interest levels we can mould them into swimming, or a swimming champion.
Then we take DAT (Differential Aptitude Tests) for a more scientific analysis. Although I wouldn’t say the results are too preferential and could be misleading on many levels, it is a tool considered by a good number of individuals on online portals or by educational institutions.
‘The List of best colleges and courses’ they offer are all not as difficult as they were during our time. A Google search is all it takes. So that wouldn’t be a priority, but a final topic to be discussed on my checklist.
7) Mr John Fernandes, What are your common observations in the seminar that you conduct for adults and students? What are your tips for it?
We conduct various seminars which mainly focus on current trends in society, keeping in mind the changing work and educational environment and helping people integrate with the same. Most of the problems arise, when there exists a gap between the youth and their previous generation and it keeps getting wider. So we focus on attempting to keep the seniors up with the trend and the juniors to be more practical about their journey of life.
The common observation is that the students always give you an impression that they are in control of their lives and know what they are doing with it. On the other hand, their parents are more concerned and think exactly the opposite.
I would suggest people of all ages to be open-minded, about learning new things from people who share new ideas. There is so much more to explore and understand.
8) Mr John Fernandes, What is the skill you think is the most needed in the present day graduates and post graduates.
Having a qualification is one thing. But can we call ourselves eligible to put forth a challenge for ourselves and have the ammunition to achieve it? If I own a business and have to appoint someone to handle a responsibility, would I honestly employ myself? Do I really have what it takes? These are the fundamental questions a graduate needs to ask. A modern graduate needs to be more focused on his/her personal vision.
Being aware of strengths and weaknesses, current economic environment and be more adaptable to the changes. It is very important to possess good social skills and build a good image. No matter who you are, one should ensure that people like him/her or like what he/she does. I feel youngsters are more individualistic these days, which will ascertain them to land in trouble at some point of their lives. Hence the most important skill if you ask me would be good social skills.
9) Mr John Fernandes, You had organised a session on ‘Girl Child week – a free Counselling Initiative’ for all age groups. Please throw light on it.
Women are more open when it comes to expressing. We know that for a fact. Out of all the clients we have had over the past decade, more than 75% have been girls, women of all ages. It doesn’t mean that men have lesser problems to discuss. It just means that we feel we can manage our minds like a “boss”.
It was in 2016 that we decided to have an exclusive free counselling initiative for the age group of 13 years and beyond, where we could address different issues relating to girl students, spinsters, married women, elderly women, divorcees and provide some sort of help in the process. It also gave us a realistic insight of their psychology and what we should be ready for, in the days to come. I have to admit that we had a tremendous response for the last four years.
10) Mr John Fernandes, What are the aspects included in the ‘Counselling for Teachers’ and how it is beneficial.
We always have this image of teachers/ lecturers as strong, loud, in-control, no problems in life and powerful beings. While their hard work has made our lives and taken us to places, they still are the most ignored professionals we come across. Their problems are always compounded when they have issues with their own partners or children. But they usually tend to cover up and never talk about it, due to the fear of embarrassment.
A teachers’ son/ daughter is always targeted in school. Their jobs and responsibilities are endless and not very financially rewarding especially at school level. I often meet my school teachers and it is very sad to see them depressed and helpless. So, I then decided to have free counselling sessions for teaching professionals.
11) Mr John Fernandes, How has your experience been as a Panellist?
Being a panellist is fun. I always enjoy my time in the midst of some brilliant minds, sharing ideas and thoughts.
12) Mr John Fernandes, Being a Graduate in Business Management, what are your visions on the current and future Indian Economy?
Globally, most of the business environment has taken a hit. The pandemic has created so much mess, so much confusion and such a lot of uncertainty. Hence it will take so much of time and effort for the economy to stand on its own feet, let alone growing.
Personally, I feel we are in for a very tough decade here in India, because of the certain number of policies and decisions which have not done us any favours. Businesses are closing down. Yes, a few companies in certain sectors will always grow but it isn’t enough. A rich customer will make the businessman wealthier. And it always needs to happen in equal measures to ensure a healthy economy. Let us hope for the best.
13) Mr John Fernandes, Being a Basketball Head Coach at Aloysius Institutions what are your major learning.
Taking up the responsibility of coaching, the Aloysian Basketball Teams has been such a blessing to me. I have completed a full decade and never felt better without my players. I have imparted so many of my learning’s on my players and helped them achieve their goals.
Sports, teaches you so many life lessons. To keep working hard, without compromising as a ‘team’ to achieve all the goals. To realise, that a failure teaches better lessons than a victory. Working for each other, helps us realise our personal goals. Life goes on, no matter who joins you or however difficult may be the situation.
14) Mr John Fernandes, You have been a Resource Person and a panellist. Do you think it has touched the lives of people? If so how?
I have to admit that I never take notes, or believe in visual presentations. I just speak my heart out. Mostly I keep it short and I keep it related to my personal life experiences as much as possible. This has really worked for me and I have made sure I give a good amount of time for interaction. I seldom leave, until I talk to the last person who wants to meet me.
A good number of them try to reach me on Facebook, get in touch via WhatsApp chats and give me feedbacks about the sessions and also seek guidance. Some of them make sure they keep in touch and share their stories after years, which is really fulfilling.
15) “Behind every success man there is a woman”. Is it true in your case?
Absolutely, I have been blessed with three wonderful women in my life. Firstly, my mother has been so understanding and brought us up so well, with so much love and care. My sister has always been motivating and been an integral part of my life, helping me shape my personality.
My wife has been the most influential woman. A man always needs someone to be unbiased, critical and practical in his life. Someone who could understand and constantly support irrespective of the phases of life. We share everything among us and make sure we are a part of each other’s good or bad times. And yes, I do feel the phrase needs to stay corrected now.
I do not think it is appropriate for it to begin with, “Behind every successful man….”. It is time we start with “Beside every successful man…” only to end with “there is a successful woman”. Don’t you think?
16) Mr John Fernandes, How do you manage your time and please give us some tips for the same.
I firstly make sure I get myself 8 hours of quality sleep. When I have to train the basketball teams in the morning, I need to wake up at 6:15 a.m. and then we have training from 6:45 am to 8:15 am. After which, I freshen up, have my breakfast, take my pet for a walk and get to work by 9:30 am. Most of the times, you will find me at Speedex key solutions, since that is my bread and butter.
I usually handle one or two sessions at my counselling centre myself and then manage its proceedings. We do not work beyond 6:30 pm. Family is my top priority and nothing else comes in its way. We ensure that we spend a good amount of time talking to each other, watching some entertainment shows and we also cook together and eat together. That has not changed from generations. Managing time will be easy if one understands priorities and gives time for the most important ones. In course of time, it is bound to be a routine.
17) Mr John Fernandes, What are the common problems seen in the present day youth and students. What are the measures the parents must take?
I could probably write a book on it. There are so many issues, it is unreal. I feel that the present day youth, especially students seem to be wearing beautiful face masks (#instamasks) with their real face hiding. So much of insecurity, confusion, trust issues, lack of real motive, problems at home, problems with their relationships, addiction, academic and career concerns and the list goes on. I feel there is a prevalent condition which I have named “pseudo-maturity”.
We find individuals who can speak well, Google out all their knowledge and may seem to portray maturity to their parents or friends. But when it comes to facing real challenges head on, their knowledge doesn’t culminate to wisdom and character. There are plenty of psychological issues like Identity disorders that can cause a lot of damage to personality. Social media is not confined to entertainment anymore, it has become “LIFE” to many youngsters and this can prove dangerous in years to follow.
18) Mr John Fernandes, What are your future goals and ambitions.
I am not very ambitious or goal oriented by nature. I usually set small challenges along my path and make sure I do my best to achieve them. In life, I just concentrate on living a happy life, bring happiness to people around me, bring about positivity and energy. Professionally, I would like to serve people through my business ventures and counselling initiatives and as a sports coach. I have found myself in doing all of this and will continue to do so.
19) Mr John Fernandes, Who was your role model growing up?
I have learnt so much from my father ever since I was very young and I feel all the respect, love and success I have experienced is largely due to him. I feel it’s Mr Rony Fernandes, I have followed more than most.
20) Mr John Fernandes, Tell us more about your love for basketball and fitness in general?
I have always played sports. I was never known for my athleticism in my early schooling days, but still tried my hand in Cricket and then became a little more confident to play football in my 8th grade. I was a big fan of the NBA which was telecasted live from the US and we watched all the matches early morning before we left for school. I was so taken into the game, that I actually started to play regularly in school, although I wasn’t selected for the school team in both 8th or 9th grade.
I practised a lot with the Aloysian degree team, the big boys who came to the Mangala Basketball court which was very close by. I then became the captain of the high school team in class 10 and never looked back ever since. Basketball was all that I cared and lived for and it brought out a different version of me. John 2.0 became a fighter, a tough opponent, motivating, a driving force and a leader. I owe it all to the game.
I have been training the Aloysian teams for the past 11 years and it has been so rewarding and fulfilling to say the least. To see someone learn the game just like I once did, to see them fall in love with the game and transform themselves into super-fit athletes and then most importantly become well-rounded individuals is a special feeling.
In my opinion every individual needs to be fit and aim to spend at least 30 to 45 minutes per day training his/her body. With the sedentary lifestyle we are forced to operate in, we need our muscles to feel used, bones to get stronger, ligaments and tendons to strengthen, skin to sweat out toxins and to ensure good metabolism and overall health. Any kind of compromise with fitness would prove disastrous, no matter who you are. So never give up fitness.
21) Mr John Fernandes, How important is the role of your family in your success?
My family is my backbone. My parents, sibling, and my wife have been extremely supportive, motivating and sacrificed a great deal to help my growth and they continue to do so.
22) Challenges encountered in business?
The challenges are always there. It is more or less the same what every businessman talks about. The biggest challenge is to stay important and relevant over the span of years. Not just stick to what you know and what has been inherited but, to also be mindful of the current environment, economic situation and keep learning and evolving with new ideas and implementing the latest technology on offer. If a business stays still, it is bound to be stagnant.
The other challenge is that we do not have too much time in between planning and implementation of new ideas in the current business environment. There are too many minds running in too many directions to seize every opportunity. If we have a good plan and we wait too long, we will soon see someone else has already executed it before us. Having said this, one can never be exclusive these days, someone will soon copy your ideas and prevail. The idea is to keep thinking new.
23) Mr John Fernandes, What is your advice to youngsters who want to stay back with their family and achieve something?
Youth in India are constantly judged in their ecosystem. It is very hard to even stay with a family and be a part of family owned businesses or for that matter not move out of hometown to a Metro or Abroad. I would encourage youngsters to happily stay back and be a part of ancestral business or start a business venture of their own. We will see a lot more people doing this because the current economic system has taken a beating and thousands have returned home after losing their jobs abroad.
As far as I can see, a lot of youngsters I know have indeed done really well as entrepreneurs, free lance professionals, musicians, photographers, skilled professionals, bakers, entertainers. I do not see any reason to not excel in the field you really love and believe in.
The only person who shouldn’t be embarrassed about you is you. Just drop anchor and work.
24) “Aspect of mental health is highly underrated in our society”. Do you agree with the statement?
I hate to say it but it is very true that mental health is not only underrated but also the most neglected aspect of life. Everyone goes through different emotions at different moments of time. Often the small little things trouble us and we tend to solve it ourselves with a little bit of effort.
We live in a society where we just can’t get our reactions align with our actual emotion. We think tears are a sign of weakness, sharing about our difficulties and problems signify lack of courage, talking fake has become a norm if you want to be a good executive or excel in show- biz, pleasing people has value and being honest comes at a price. People always visit a counsellor or psychiatrist when it is too late or too hard to retrieve themselves.
Depression and Suicidal tendencies are at an all time high but people hardly acknowledge the hard fact and we have often come across parents trying to close down the situation and not even attempting to talk to their children without judging them or seeking professional help.
We have been raising awareness about the importance of mental health in different ways and we are hopeful that the society will soon come in terms with it and act to address mental health more empathetically.
25) Unforgettable experience in counselling?
Well I cannot disclose much but trust me each and every experience is Unforgettable. I remember all my clients and the sessions we have had.
But I can talk about a funny incident that happened when I first started my venture. I was around 24 years of age and I had this mid-aged lady escorting her daughter who was around 18-19 years old for a counselling session and was taken aback. The first thing she asked me was “We have booked an appointment with Mr. John Fernandes. Son could you call your father?”. I could understand what she felt and did all that, was necessary to prove that I was indeed John Fernandes. The entire episode was hilarious and the conversation still cracks me up.
26) Topics covered as a resource person?
I usually speak on issues relating to teenage and adolescent psychology, general interaction with students, Management and Entrepreneurship, sports and life skills. When institutes or organisations have particular topics that they want me to address, I oblige.
27) Mr John Fernandes, You run through a busy schedule often. Your wife is an ace compere of Mangalore. Do you think balancing work, life and family is a challenge, especially where both are working?
My wife and I are just plain simple people and we believe in giving our 100% towards work when we work and 100% to life other than work. Finding a good balance between profession and life is paramount to any family. We are thorough professionals with our utmost priority being building the bonds with our people at home.
We are intent on retaining a good vibe at home and everyone shares this vision. It is up to every individual to set up their own scheduling by giving equal importance to work and family. If someone tilts too much to only one side, it will lead to a lot of problems. Mind you, this is the case with most families we know of.
28) Mr John Fernandes, What motivated you to be an entrepreneur?
I have always been very creative in my thought and self-reliance has always been my strength. Working for a corporate or for any other organisation didn’t appeal to me. My experience of working with my father and running a business of my own was too revealing of the fact that there was a entrepreneur in me. I never let anything else come in between that career plan. I have to admit that my love towards my ventures is at always all-time high.
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