A New Year - Anthony's story


A New Year - Anthony's story

05 Jan 2022

Wishing each and every one a Happy, Joyous, Peaceful and Safe New Year 2022

We, at CONIFERS, recommit ourselves to the safety and well-being of our course participants. We have decided to continue at present to conduct online Spoken English classes in Pune, along with Communication Skills and Personality Development.

Hi, I am Anthony D’Souza and CONIFERS is my brainchild. Let me go back to when and why I started this Institute. By profession I am a Horticulturist and have worked for over 30 years in different Corporates. However in addition to my regular assignments, I also helped the Human Resource Dept. to train new recruits as well as I was requested, by the Guests Relation Dept., to interact with corporate guests and clients. This opportunity gave me confidence in my communication abilities.

After 30 years of corporate experience, I decided to do something that would help society at large and in a way give back to society. I quit my job and started a consultancy in Horticulture (both farming and landscaping). In the first year of my Horticulture Consultancy, I helped some corporates, especially Information Technology organisations, to beautify their office surroundings. During implementation of projects, many employees of these organisations interacted with me as they came to admire the landscaping being undertaken. One message rang out clearly during these interactions which set me thinking. The message was repeated time and again by even senior employees and that was that they felt that I spoke good English and they wished that they could improve their communication skills in English. I began to realise that most of these employees had very good technical skills but were not able to present their work or even communicate well with colleagues or seniors.

I felt a strong desire to guide people to speak better. In a way it would serve a larger population as compared to landscaping. I slowly veered towards helping and guiding anyone who approached me. Now knowing how to speak English well and knowing how to teach English are two different aspects of the language. I always believed what my mother always said, “Do what you do, do well.” So I embarked on a journey to educate myself. After reading many books on the topic, I enrolled myself with a prestigious Institute where they taught how to teach English to people of other languages. After completing the course, I created the content for CONIFERS Spoken English and Communication Skills course. Then with the blessing of my family, friends and well-wishers, I launched the Institute. 

Initially the response was lukewarm, since I was better known for landscaping. After a couple of months, the enrollment improved and soon we had enquiries coming in from working professionals as well as students in the final year of their degrees who were preparing for campus placement interviews. Later we received enquiries from a third group. They were housewives whose children were in English medium schools and they found it difficult to interact with the teachers as well as found it difficult to take up their children’s studies. There were also housewives who had given up their jobs because they shifted base after marriage and were now getting ready to join the workforce again. They wished to brush up their communication skills and prepare for interviews.

For 5 years, we conducted classroom courses. We scheduled our batch timings to suit working professionals, housewives and students. We could see a marked difference in the communication skills and vocabulary of the participants. Their confidence and fluency in the language also improved significantly. It gave us immense satisfaction to see that the step I took, was resulting in the career growth of so many around. CONIFERS course gained popularity and participants came from far and near. Though so many participants approached us, we maintained small batches so that we could give each participant personalised attention.

Many organisations, in which the participants of the Course worked, found an improvement in them and requested that CONIFERS conduct the course for their employees at their premises. We started conducting sessions at various organisations. Everything seemed to be going on perfectly.

Then in early 2020, Covid struck. Everything was tossed upside down. We shut our classroom teaching and waited in hope that we would be able to resume in a few months. After a couple of months, many participants who wanted to complete the course, requested me to start online batches. Many encouraged us saying that online sessions would be beneficial for them since they have many clients abroad and they have been interacting with them online. But I was hesitant, I had never conducted online classes before and I am not tech savvy. However, with continuous prodding by prospective participants who assured me that they would guide me, I decided to start online batches. We reduced the batch size and started the online batches. It was a thumping success from the beginning. Now, we started getting students from faraway places. Even participants from outside the city and now some participants from outside the state. It has been a truly remarkable journey.

Today after 7 years, I am so proud that I have helped over 1200 participants. And the demand is ever growing. I will now have to find new ways of reaching far and wide so that we can help and serve the public in general in every nook and corner of our great country. The reviews are a testimony to the appreciation of my many participants. I thank God for guiding me to my calling and giving me the vision to serve my fellow countrymen.

Let me end by saluting the frontline workers across the globe who have worked tirelessly to bring relief to all infected with the Covid virus.

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