“So what do you want to be when you grow up?” I asked my 8 year old daughter. “Well, what would you like me to become?” my daughter shot back. I was zapped by her wit as she had tossed the ball back in my court and moreover who expects the generation- x to seek an opinion on what to choose for a career for themselves. I looked at my wife with pride as if I wanted to tell her that my daughter still holds my opinion in high esteem.
“Ok, How about becoming a doctor?” I asked. “No” she screamed. “I don`t want to be a doctor as I can see my aunt weighed down by her busy schedule”, she explained. I avoided any eye contact with my wife who was ready to tear apart my pride as time and again she had been successful in proving that my opinion hardly counts. I could see a sense of victory in her eyes but I was not ready to give up. I and my daughter both kept exploring various professions for a couple of hours and finally zeroed in on Chartered Accountancy or you may say that this decision was secretly influenced by me due to the presence of many CAs in my family.
“It is not an easy task”, I tried to put sense in to my daughter, as for her at this age becoming a CA, a doctor or an engineer were all the same. “My teachers will make it sure that I do it”, she said calmly as I watched the younger generation who is much sure about themselves than us. “Dad can you suggest a good teacher who will teach me well so that I can become a CA?” she asked innocently. Unknowingly she had directed me towards my next Gyaan Encounter.
I am a gym freak and normally hit the gym in the evening. But the following day I woke up early in the morning so that I can meet up with the hero of my next gyaan encounter. Fortunately he visits the same gym as I do. But I can tell you, lifting weights in the gym is easier than getting up early in the morning and I am sure many of my readers would vouch for it. But I had made up my mind and was on my way to meet Mr. Mahesh Shetty, founder of MT Educare, and who was in news lately as his coaching classes had come up with an Initial Public Offer (IPO).
As I entered the Gym, my trainer came up to me and asked, “So early today?” Anyways, come we will do legs today”, he continued. He very well knew that the relationship of my legs with the machine was inversely proportional. I somehow escaped him and entered the floor. And there he was, sitting calmly on the floor to have a 2 minute rest with closed eyes after having completed his workout. I waited till he opened his eyes and the feeling of me sitting in front of a great entrepreneur and a GURU engulfed my body. I briefed him about our website and an appointment was fixed.
Equipped with a camera I reached his office on the scheduled date. As I entered the office I was amazed and speechless for a few minutes after seeing the huge space and numerous people working out there. It was not less than a small city. “Sir, water?” asked one of the house keeping staff. “No, thanks”, I replied nervously and looked at my camera as if I was asking it whether we would be able to perform the interview session properly.
“Come”, said Mr. Shetty and we entered his cabin. “Sir, do you need any assistance?” asked one of his staff. “Yes, I would need two collar mikes and one person to hold my camera”, I replied nervously. “Come along, I will show you our studio. Let us see if we can do the interview there”, he said. “Studio?” I asked myself trying to suppress my nervousness. It was a mini studio used for online classes and the staff showed me their high definition camera and sound recording system. Frankly speaking I felt at ease as for the very first time I would be concentrating more on the content of the interview rather than the technicalities. After the preliminary preparation Mr. Shetty joined us.
“How did the idea of MT Educare come to your mind?” I asked.
“Mahesh Tutorials was started in the year 1988. Before that from 1984 to 1988 I used to teach in another class which was known as Shetty academy. It was a local brand and I was one of the founder teachers. After having passed out from Ruia College I started teaching in classes in the year 1984. I could see that there was a dearth of teachers due to poor salary paid to them. The society needed good teachers and the only thought in my mind at that time was to empower teachers. That thought itself forms the foundation of Mahesh Tutorials. In the year 1988 when we ventured out to start Mahesh tutorials our main goal was to increase the base of the teachers and the only way to increase the base was to expand. We went on expanding and today we have 190 centres and we are present in four states of India which are Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu”, he replied.
Well as Mr. Shetty rightly mentioned about the low salaries of teachers in the past, I can now associate why even in the stories a teacher was always depicted as a poor fellow struggling for survival. It was a tough profession. As rightly quoted by Frank McCourt “Teachers are the only professionals who have to respond to bells every forty-five minutes and come out fighting.”
“What were the challenges that you faced while recruiting quality teachers?” I asked. “The biggest challenge at that time was salary and teaching was not a preferred choice. I still remember the first recruitment of Mr. Narayan Iyer, who is now on the board. He was a B.E. from the University of Madras and it was very difficult to bring him in teaching profession as his family and friends were not convinced that an engineer should take up a teaching profession when he had numerous other lucrative offers. But somehow we convinced him. And they say that when you enter into a new field you enter into an unknown area where you get an opportunity to invent and discover”, he replied.
“Wow, if you can motivate an engineer to take up a teaching profession you can do anything in this world”, I thought and praised the efforts of Mr. Shetty.
“What is the USP of Mahesh tutorial?” I asked. “The USP of MT Educare is quality delivery, continuous innovation, continuous evaluation of teachers and above all empowerment. An entrepreneur should trust his or her people and allow them to do mistakes. The problem with the entrepreneurs is that they are very possessive and attached to their business and once they are possessive and attached discoveries don’t happen. I feel this is the biggest mistake Indian entrepreneurs make. They are very possessive and most of the time this possessiveness results in non doing rather than doing”, he replied.
After his reply I tried to imagine myself as a boss allowing my people to make mistakes and just after a few seconds I concluded that it is a hard nut to crack.
“In recent times a lot of professionals have entered into the teaching profession. What are the challenges that you face while handling these professionals”, I asked.
“Handling professionally qualified people is a challenge because they come up with lots of expectations. They want everything fast because they got it fast in their lives and they are scholars. So somewhere they build a huge dream around themselves. They are not ready to wait and that’s why you see most professionals constantly changing their jobs. They feel that they worth more. But I feel no one’s worth more. It is the performance which showcases your worth. You have to wait patiently and perform well. Jumping jobs don’t earn them any brownie points as a rolling stone gathers no moss. For me an entrepreneur is one who promotes a business and the employees are intrapreneurs. Once you know that you are an intrapreneur you can switch over the jobs as you are aware of your skills. Professionals often make a big mistake in the sense that they start evaluating their boss. Instead of evaluating your boss you have to evaluate yourself. You have to honor and give privilege to your boss”, he replied.
Yes no doubt. It is a tough task to handle professionals as I belong to a family full of professionals and hence can say that I have a hands-on-experience dealing with them. Sometimes I even imagine the surname of my family being changed to “professional”. Intrapreneur was a new word for me and I was simply mesmerized at the view point of Mr. Shetty for his employees.
“How many teachers are there at present working with MT Educare?” I asked. “We had more than seven hundred and fifty teachers in 2011-2012 and in 2012-2013 the number of teachers are more”, he replied.
“How many students have passed out so far from your institution?” I asked. “In the year 2011-2012 alone we had 69000 students. And the process is on for the year 2012-2013”, he replied.
I gulped down the enormous figure immediately managing not to show my amazement as I reminded myself that I was on camera. Moreover for the very first time I was in front of a professional camera which would be capable of capturing even the subtlest of expression. I had to keep my confidence level intact as I was sitting face to face with a great entrepreneur who came without any preparation and was simply ready to reply to any sort of questions put forth. “That’s what you call confidence and after all an effective teacher is one who knows how to keep you busy”, I thought.
“What qualities should an entrepreneur have?” I asked. “First and foremost an entrepreneur should be detached to his business. He should be detached to his success. He should be innovative and he should empower his people, he should trust his people. He should allow his people to make mistakes. He should care for his people. He should be open to new ideas. He should not envy his people and should accept them as they are. Entrepreneur needs to understand that it is not his business alone. It is his people’s business as those are the ones who run it for him. He should always understand that he is just a guardian to the whole business and once we understand this fact I think this world will be a better place to live in. Most of the time we start thinking that we own our business, we own our wife, we own our children but we actually are just par with them. We should treat them as our equal and if you follow the motto of equality in your company you will definitely go a long way”, he replied.
This is the beauty of a great entrepreneur. How simply he described the qualities expected from an entrepreneur. It is so difficult to allow someone to make mistakes when we don’t allow even our children doing it. But if you want to be a successful entrepreneur you ought to build certain qualities as they say No pain, No gain.
“What are your plans of expansion?” I asked. “We are going to expand in what we are good at. Whatever MT educare runs today like the school segment, college segment we will expand in that. We will not shift our focus. When Dronacharya asked Arjuna to shoot the parrot’s eye and asked him what did he see when he aimed at the target, he told he could see only the parrot’s eye and the rest was in oblivion. Nowadays people get influenced by their surroundings and they feel that they can do everything. You should take your people along when you grow. You will be hurt at times, you will not be at your supreme best at times but it is alright. Life teaches you everything. Finally life is an experience”, he replied.
“Wow”, I muttered and thought that even the sun’s rays don’t burn unless brought to a focus. In the present times we are in a hurry to do every possible thing in life but if we can have patience and focus we can do a lot better. “Well that’s how one is influenced by the company of a great man”, I said to myself and appreciated my great thoughts.
“How do you cope up with the changes in syllabus?” I asked. “We have a year around training curriculum. We have around more than one hundred and fifty hours of training program for our teachers. We have adapted to newer methods of teachings. Blackboards have become digitalized now. Students have started enjoying the experience of digital learning. Today’s child is so technosavy. They have all kinds of electronic gadgets and most of the time playing with play stations. Their minds are very fast and they will be easily bored with blackboard teaching. You have to give them novel situations so that learning becomes a challenge rather than a burden. That’s why we have to present the content in the form of games”, he replied.
I still remember how we as students used to carry slates for writing which has now comfortably been replaced by laptops and tablets. Sometimes my daughter teaches me how to play games on mobile and laptops and same is the case with every parent nowadays.
“What do you feel about the changing mindset of the students for the last twenty years?” I asked.
“Students are much better than what they were twenty years back because they are fast. They don’t believe in rote memory. We have to change with the times. Students will never change. The problem with the teachers is that they want the child to change. First we have to understand that we are a student first learning at every opportunity only then we will be able to empathize with our student”, he replied.
“What is the future of online education?” I asked. “I think that online education is the future of the world. But there will always be a need of direct teaching. Online teaching can be for self motivated matured students. If the student is motivated and is ready to face the challenges then online education can help him. But I feel handholding is a must till the age of 18 or 19 because the child is not motivated enough to study on his own as the fast paced environment itself is a distracter”, he replied.
After the interview when I reached home, motivated by his words I told my wife that I do not own her but rather belong to her. “Are you ok?” she asked showing some concern. “Baby I think you need rest and I am sorry if I have hurt you in any manner”, she continued. “Thanks Mr. Shetty, you have taught me the first lesson towards marital bliss”, I told myself.