Johnson Odakkal Initiatives: Influence of Knowledge – Growth – Life 

Riya Poojari: Johnson Odakkal Initiatives (JOI) was launched on November 21st, 2021, as a venture for Knowledge Influence Growth Solutions and Life Navigation.

On the first anniversary, JOI Interns Riya Poojari & Supriya Mishra interviewed the Commodore (Dr) Johnson Odakkal, CEO & Founder, Johnson Odakkal Initiatives.

We congratulate you for one year of Johnson Odakkal Initiatives. Looking back, share, as a Seafarer and Indian Navy Veteran, what led you to conceptualise JOI.

Thank you both, Riya and Supriya! Oceans that occupy 71% of the planet’s surface have been my karma kshetra (theatre of duty) for 39 years as a seafarer, marine navigator, naval operations professional, senior leader and perpetual learner. Having had the widest multi-disciplinary life and learning, I was compelled at my core to be a channel of influence on a wider scale.

It has been my privilege to inherit a legacy of excellence from my parents, teachers and most treasured mentors in the maritime domain. The natural progression was to have the voyage continue and impart some of my learnings to the emerging generation. That was the core thought in envisioning this venture.

What influenced the articulation of the Objectives of JOI? 

Among many mentors and teachers, I have been most influenced by my father, Odakkal Master, from Kondotty in Kerala. Another strong influence in the latter years was Late Vice Admiral MP Awati, who encouraged and guided my initial years at the Maritime History Society. Dr John C Maxwell, my senior mentor as part of Maxwell Leadership, was the one whose words summarised the key to the aims and mission of JOI.

He says, “Be a Person of Value who Values People and adds Value to People.” Our three-fold Objectives are to Enhance Knowledge Influence, Effective Growth Solutions and Empowered Life Navigation. Finally, we look to serve High Schoolers and College Students among other young enthusiasts to maximise their voice of influence and see how their dreams come true in their career and vocational choices.

In the past year, what were some wins and learnings that stood out?

Wow! That question itself makes me overwhelmed with joy. It has been a great year, and the media team has made a short video clip which one can watch at I would be happy to talk about a few wins and some learnings. 

Statistically speaking, the biggest win was to have 600+ registrations for our October 2022 webinar on “Maximise Your Message”, which has now been translated into a two-credit course at Tolani College of Commerce, Mumbai. Two internships, one on heritage and another on knowledge, are treasured as opportunities to equip young undergraduates.

The JOI team itself are our star, highlighting with enthusiasm in every project which has expanded our influence across the spectrum of maritime knowledge, leadership, growth and career guidance.

On a personal note, the JOI journey gave me the honour of guiding a PhD student to complete his thesis. In that same genre, 207 first-year integrated LLB students of Gujarat National Law University, Gandhinagar, completing a paper on Comparative World History will stay cherished.

We have had some key learnings too. Twice we had to postpone a workshop and a webinar due to incomplete preparation. These helped us to tighten our processes to prepare well. It was tough on the revenue front, but we consider the challenges as an investment into our future.

What are the values that make JOI effective?

Team JOI has an organisational culture that operates on four values. First, we “Picture It” to completely clarify the Big Picture and the excruciating details. We “Possess It” to have total ownership of whatever we set our hands to do. We “Partner for It” since we believe in an exponential increase of effectiveness as we collaborate internally and externally. All of these guide us to “Progress It”, as the best intentions are pointless without action.

Please tell us about your support system and daily motivation for continuing the journey of JOI.

The greatest inspiration we have does include the official followers and supporters on the digital platforms and subscribers. We have found that our influence has been far wider, as we learnt from regular feedback from secondary and tertiary connections. It thrills us when someone not formally connected encourages us for one of our content or work. Personally, the naval fraternity, the veteran community, academia, media friends, Maxwell Leadership Team and many more have been the strong pillars that inspire us daily.

Is there a special gratitude you would like to express on this momentous occasion?

Absolutely! I salute each team member of JOI and, in particular, the ones who were a part of the launch or joined later and have moved on. I thank the extended family of each of our team members for their whole-hearted support. The BBC Colaba family, The University of Mumbai, The Naval War College, Goa, The Gujarat National Law University and Gujarat Maritime University and the Navy Foundation, Mumbai Charter are others who I stay grateful towards in this voyage.

At “JOI – One Year On”, what do you see as the way forward?

Going forward is the key. It is our heart to see those in transition and those looking to jumpstart their careers believe that “Yes! Dreams come True!” We look forward to working with international schools & colleges, corporates and professionals seeking growth. I envision that existing and new team members will grow beyond me!

Before we close, kindly share some inspirational words for the emerging generations as the leaders of tomorrow. 

I constantly look to learn from the emerging generation. I would tell them, “Believe in Yourself and Allow Us or someone else who values You to help make Your Dream come True.” I encourage them to find their unique voice and boldly speak because their voice matters to someone, someplace and somewhere.

To the youth and, in fact, too many more who value what we do, I ask you to stay connected with us at And on our social media channels. Allow us to serve you to see your voyage becoming a rich experience.

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