In each of my few fortunate personal interactions with Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Educationand NPI (National Prosperity Index instead of GDP) were constant features and he alwaysspoke very animatedly about these. Dr. Kalam was the first contemporary Indian who spokeabout India as a Global Super Power. He did that when we as a nation were still copingwith our new identity in the 1990s. He also stressed that India will realise her potentialthrough her knowledge and education. I myself have been a die-hard believer of thisprophecy as well as vision clarity.
In less than two decades those distant visions have translated into visible evidences- from ISRO to global Indian CEOs to growth of Indian economy to India emerging as a newinnovation destination for companies and entrepreneurs etc. If you search for anycommonality in each of the top 10 successes of our nation you will find education as theonly factor.
In fact my story or your own story or the story of our immediate family or closestfriends is a testimony to the transformational impact education has had in a short span.Many of us have rocketed ourselves from the bottom of the pyramid to the top by virtue ofjust one thing - our education.
Simply put CL is an effort a journey a platform a movement an organisation thataims at doing the same for millions in India and then elsewhere in the world. When Indiarides her way from a USD 2.5 Trillion economy (IMF estimate) to a USD 5
Trillion on the back of education we would love to not just ride that wave but alsocontribute our might to that accomplishment. In short can we be the best coach in theworld over the next decade - coach for all kinds of knowledge skills and attitude. That'sCL Educate.
A few thoughts about the macros:
Favourable macros always play an important part as they create the tailwind. Thevirtuous cycle of wealth and prosperity has begun to move for India now. The core enablerwas education that led to improved Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER) in higher education morejobs innovations wealth creation which now are moving back as re-investments to scaleourselves to the next orbit of education innovation and prosperity. Of course there arepatches of imperfections large tracts of effort vacuum in this big picture. However thebig picture itself is truly favourable.
1) Robust Demand and demographics favourable:
Education is culturally valued in India. Every family strives to give her best to thechild. You will be aware of how different this is in many parts of the world including theUS. The Indian parent looks at education as the core while success or wealth as aby-product. This works as the strongest 'pull' in the robust demand for education at everylevel and every town. The universities and schools struggling to upgrade their qualitystandards is a mere testament to the consumer awareness of quality and not compromisingwith it.
2) Integration into world higher education (HE) landscape
One of the uncelebrated policy successes over the past two years has been thesuccessful implementation of NIRF - National Institutional Ranking Framework. NIRF rankshigher educational institutions including colleges and universities through an independentprocess which grants over 50 percent weightage to research output and graduate outcomes ofthe institution. This is the first big step towards integration of Indian higher educationwith the global landscape.
This creates opportunities as well as the inevitable disruptions in the HE landscape.Over the medium to long term we will see emergence of 20-25 Indian universities in thetop 200 universities of the world (from the current three as per the latest QS WorldUniversity Ranking for 2016-17). The positive impact of this step could be nothing shortof revolutionary. Bangalore Hyderabad Mumbai etc emerging as melting pots of innovationat par or ahead of Silicon Valley or Tel Aviv is eminently possible. Indian universitieswill emerge as the hotbed of innovation in the next decade. In a five year perspective Isee India emerge as a powerful education brand along with China and US where the netstudents coming to study is more than the numbers that travel out.
3) Organisations become universities
Skills are paramount in the new job paradigm not degrees and constant reskilling isinevitable. Organisations and professionals/employees have to be truly focused onreskilling themselves every day in the new paradigm. This opens up a massivesuper-specialist business opportunity.
The new era recruitment training career progression compensation and rewards areincreasingly driven by this new paradigm of skills. This will include on-demandassessments benchmarking continuous training personal coaching appraisal reassessmentand so on. Technology-led and personalisation driven platforms will enable organisationsin this journey. It will be a white label internal university powered by externaltech-platform companies. Life long learning continuous learning open-loop university aresome of the new jargon so that have begun to fly around.
Our Short Term Growth Engines : 12 to 24 months
Now our entire attention is on excellence in short term execution.
1) Test Preparation and Training ("Test Prep"):
Test Prep is an evergreen and continuously evolving naturally 'pull' business.Moreover in India India's Kaplan (biggest Test Prep brand) is yet to emerge; CL isuniquely positioned to emerge as that.
With the addition of ETEN business (acquired from Pearson in the month of April 2017)CL has added a very potent engine to scale all the knowledge products such as IAS &allied Chartered Accountancy/ Company Secretarial / Chartered Financial Analyst courseand allied Banking and Allied and so on. GATE IITJEE/ Medical addition are on the anviltoo. ETEN is time tested and proven. This backbone and product portfolio expansion enablesCL to aim and double her geographical reach over the next 2-3 years.
2) Research services through Accendere and wainconnect.com:
Accendere has a unique FMA (first mover advantage) in the post NIRF era in India. Ouracquisition of Accendere could not have been timed better (We have discussed aboutwainconnect and Accendere Knowledge Management Services in Management's discussion andanalysis section). We will continue to invest in building the technology led platformalong with research VAS (value-added services) and hope to build a formidable businessover the next two-three years. Moreover Accendere gives CL her first truly globallymonetisable platform and product.
3) Scalable Learning & Development services for corporations and Universities:
CL Educate has a strong footing with the corporates and the institutions through itssubsidiaries Kestone and CL Media. Over the past three years the conscious strategy hasbeen to move from the low margin staffing business to higher margin VAS (value-addedservices). This effort goes further with the addition of Innovation/research services(Accendere) and scalable training services (Kestone and 361DM) to corporates anduniversities. CL already holds a small strategic stake in 361DM. We foresee enhancing ourintegration to enable faster scaling in the immediate future.
John Keynes' quote "In the long run we are all dead" does ring constantly inmy head. There is so much to do and yet we have only 24 hours a day. Every moment isprecious. We need to seize every moment today so that we deserve the tomorrow. As AllamaIqbal said -
Woh qaum nahin laayaq e hungama e farda
Jis qaum ke taqdeer mein imroz nahin hai
(Those who do not value their today do not deserve the excitement of the morrow)
Satya Narayanan .R