Thu | May 23, 2019

FLOW fathers winning hearts

Published:Sunday | June 17, 2018 | 12:04 AM
Whitney and Stefan Fennell.
Stephen Miller and daughter Amira.
Delroy McLean and his fraternal twin girls Marley and Maleia.
Stephen Miller and daughter, Amira.
Whitney (left) and Stefan Fennell.


Fathers are the ultimate superheroes. They are their daughter's first love and their son's first hero. However, these dads have taken the role of superhero to a whole new level, thriving in the corporate world while playing very active roles in the development of their children.

Think strategic boardroom decisions by day and diaper changes or homework assistance at night, and in the case of one FLOW dad, actually being in the boardroom with his son.


The Fennells: Father-son experts


It's rare that a father and son have the opportunity to enjoy both a personal and professional relationship. For Whitney Fennell and his son, Stefan, the chance came just over a year ago when Stefan was hired as a tech expert at FLOW, the same company where his dad now serves as vice-president of retail sales and distribution.

The senior Fennell says his son was a very focused and disciplined teenager, and so for him, it is no surprise that he was found suitable to assume the responsibility of guiding FLOW's customers through the technical rigours of their telecommunications services.

For his son, being able to work with his father, has allowed him the unique chance of witnessing his dad's work ethics, drive, hard work and passion.

"It is motivating to me. I would love to follow in his footsteps one day. He inspires me to always be on top of my game when it comes on to work, and to be an example to others," shares Stefan, the elder of two Fennell siblings.

"Stefan has always had a passion for hard work and this propelled him to achieve both academic and athletic success during his time at Kingston College, then later at the University of the West Indies, where he represented Jamaica as a junior athlete - winning numerous medals both for school and country," his father beams.

Now an adult, Stefan has not lost his humble and loving nature.

"Even at age 23, he still hugs me and is never afraid to say, 'I love you, Dad'. He is one of those young men that any parent would be proud to have," he adds.

"I admire my father's strong willingness to make an impact and to be an inspiration to others. He empowers people to strive for greatness. He is a man of self-control and focus," the younger Fennell replies.

"I can admit there have been times in life where I have fallen off track, but when I thought about the values my father taught me, I've been able to quickly readjust my life to correct all those mistakes and reshape my future for the better."

Both men are very competitive and regularly engage in a 'serious' dominoes game. They also enjoy watching comedies together with the rest of the family.

"That is the most critical stage at which to invest quality time, effort and most importantly, self. I attended all of my sons' sporting events, and was very involved at all of the schools they attended. This helped to nurture them and was critical in developing the respectable young men that they are today," the senior Fennell points out.


Stephen Miller manages being a first time Dad


They say a father is a girl's first love, but for first-time dads, the overwhelming emotions they feel towards their daughters are quite often a 'first' for him, too.

Three years ago, life changed for the better for FLOW's sponsorship manager, Stephen Miller. In March 2015, his now-precocious three-year-old was just a tiny bundle of joy, who has sent his world into overdrive every day since.

While not taking extended paternity leave, the busy FLOW executive admits to taking a few extra days off after her birth to ensure he never missed a moment.

"I feel like each day is a milestone. Her rapid development actual scares me, but equally sensitises me to the fact that children grow up so fast," a proud Miller reflects.

The aura of those initial moments was soon superseded by a rush of unusual emotions a year ago, which had the often overprotective dad wondering, "maybe homeschooling is the way to go.

"She definitely coped way better than me. I had many thoughts during the walk from the car to the classroom on her first day of school ... like, 'Would it seem weird to just chill out in my car until about 2 p.m.'? Miller shared. These days, he now sits amazed at the stunning statements or quick wit that emerge from her daily.

"Amira's ability to express herself coherently from such an early age is amazing to me. Each day, she delivers a full bill and receipt about who did what at school. I love it!"

For this Manchester United disciple, the fact that his daughter has shown a keen interest in the game of football is definitely a plus - a result of "deliberate encouragement", he laughs. Outside of watching Manchester United play, Miller says they both enjoy 'doing road' together on a Saturday. "She's a real trooper. She sets the pace, she leads, and she's my boss during that time.

"I think all parents wish the very best for their children, and so do I," Miller said, as he looks to the future. "I can't say I want her to become a doctor or a marketer or whatever. My goal is to create a platform of exposure and capability for her, that makes as many options and possibilities within reach of her ultimate desires. Critically and above all things, I want her to be happy."

While only having three short years of experience, Miller says that he advises fathers to make time for their daughters.

"You do not want to miss any moment of their journey and growth. A major part of being a great dad is to ensure you are around," he shared.

"Take care of yourself, take care of your body, and live as healthy a lifestyle as you can."


McLean doubles up as father


They say the first six months of a child's life are the most exciting, memorable, scary and transformational time for new parents. For Delroy McLean, senior director, vice-president, retail sales and distribution, C&W Business Jamaica, FLOW, these emotions have been doubled by being the father of six-month-old fraternal twins - Marley and Maleia.

"It's been a blur with more diaper changes and spills that I can possibly quantify, but their growth and development have been simply amazing. They've given me perspective. My life is nothing that I could have hoped or imagined, and yet, it's everything I have ever wanted," said McLean, as he reflected on the past six months.

Already, the memorable moments are racking up. He speaks fondly about the first night home from the hospital with two delicate little bundles, and no idea what to do. Witnessing the twins recognising each other for the first time and how they both reached out to feel each other's faces, along with the absolute delight when they went into a swimming pool for the first time.

"The girls have completely different personalities, different cries, different laughs and different facial expressions. Maleia definitely has my sense of humour and curiosity, while Marley has my calm and stubbornness - I'm an extroverted introvert and they cover me perfectly!" he shared.

"They are growing up so fast! It feels like I miss so much when I go to work, as every day is something new. I therefore spend as much time with them as possible," McLean added.




Asked about his reaction when told that he was going to be the father of twins, he said: "I was kind of expecting it, given how many multiples are in my wife's family, but it was still a major shock. All my plans and contingencies as a husband, father and provider where suddenly in doubt. In my mind, twins were more than double the trouble and as a worry-wart, I had a mini panic attack. Then two seconds after, all that ran through my mind, I went to my wife, we hugged, laughed, cried and danced at the news. In fact, we already had two names in the event of such a blessing.

"Today, the girls rule the roost with myself and my wife making do - that's our new rule. We don't plan, we adapt. This fact is also a testament of how we've grown as parents: from worrying about every little bacteria to accepting that everything will go into their little mouths if they get too close.

"I pray for their strength, as the future holds no certainties and the world they grow up in will be a fast-changing one. With strength in their faith themselves and our love for them, I hope that they can grow up and follow the path of happiness that is theirs to truly grasp - even if it means they don't become fans of tech like their dad."

Delroy's most important advice for fathers of young children is to give them love and acceptance. "They need you to be their rock and pillar. To be honest and open. To be loving and kind. Allow them their room to grow, but build it on the foundation of your love. Let them know it's endless and that they deserve nothing less. Ever. From anyone. Including you."