Mr Satya Narayanan R, a well-known teacher-entrepreneur, and the Founder-Chairman of CL Educate (a BSE/NSE listed company) is a rare success story of India in the realm of education. Satya is an alumnus of St. Stephen's College (1988–91) and MBA from IIM-Bangalore (1991–93). He founded Career Launcher in 1995; and has built it into one of the most formidable and respected brands over the last two-and-a-half decades. Satya is also an accomplished Urdu poet. Under the pseudonym Muasir, he has published two books of Urdu poetry. Satya has successfully completed the 'Human Interaction Laboratory' program from the NTL Institute for Applied Behavioral Science; and has received a number of awards, including the Karmaveer Puraskaar in 2009–10 by iCONGO, and the Most Promising Entrepreneur Award in the Asia-Pacific Entrepreneurship Awards, 2009.
Career Launcher has been my home for the last 25 years. In 1996, after graduating from IIM-Bangalore, I was fortunate to have my batchmates along with me as the co-founders of Career Launcher. Our penchant for teaching brought us together on a common platform. It is this joy of imparting quality education that has kept us connected to this sector for so long. There is no better feeling than helping a youngster realize his/her potential.
I believe my leadership style stems from the Core Values that define us as an organization. Our core values are collectively known by the acronym ROOHI:
R – Risk Taking
O – Ownership
O – Openness
H – Honesty & Commitment to the Customer
I – Innovation
These (in differing percentages) form the DNA of each and every CL-ite — including myself.
Risk-taking, for example, is about taking intelligent and calculated risks; which has helped us grow from a single study center selling one product in 1996 to a ₹350+ crore corporate that has branches in Singapore, the United States, Middle East, Africa, etc.
A few years after establishing Career Launcher, my team and I took part in an exercise that helped us formulate our raison d'être — our core purpose — the values that we as an organization hold dear, and document our mission. It has held us in good stead over the last two-and-a-half decades. Our Core Purpose is “To enable individuals realize their potential and make their career dreams come true”.
This core belief has resulted in achieving some incredible milestones over the course of our journey: our first business partner, we being the first Asian investee of Intel Capital, our first acquisition, the launch of our first international study center, our first school, our becoming a public entity, etc. One of our next milestones will be becoming a ₹500 crore company, and the list will continue to grow. The core purpose, the belief, however, will remain the same.
Being a well-respected brand in the field of education now for the last 25 years, there is probably very little that parents and students do not know about us. We train students for entrance exams, such as, CAT, CLAT, IIT-JEE, UPSC, NEET, GATE, etc.
Some of our recent developments have been in the domain of training students for careers in Finance, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, etc. And many of these are age-independent. A learner is welcome to choose a new skill that will help their careers progress.
We have an incredible online platform called aspiration.ai that caters to the learning needs of all students, irrespective of age, course, etc. Today, a parent can log on to aspiration.ai; join a course with his/her child; and learn artificial intelligence together. The child can use the same platform to prepare for his/her Board exams; while the parent can also access tips on good parenting. All of these are built on a cutting-edge artificial-intelligence framework.
We continuously strive for innovation; and have been using technology intensively over the last 25 years to innovate.
We have a large team of educators that updates our curriculum for the various courses we cater to. This happens round-the-clock. Our pedagogy, teaching aids, class presentations, study material, and online resources go through various rounds of validation, quality assessment, and updating on a daily basis.
Every single CL Mentor undergoes a rigorous training & certification program before taking their first class in the CL ecosystem. We also conduct monthly conferences, wherein mentors from across the country come together to share and exchange ideas. During our Annual Academic Conference (ANACON), we spend three days at an offsite location drawing up our academic action plan for the year ahead.
We have a dynamic team of individuals, who plan and execute our strategy in every academic cycle.
Our marketing team includes individuals who are experts in areas like digital marketing, media planning, etc., and use media that is relevant to reach out to today’s youth.
However, I would like to add that at the end of the day, it all comes down to the quality that we deliver inside the classroom — irrespective of, whether it is an online or a physical class. Our finest marketing efforts happen inside the class; and through the word of mouth of the lakhs of Career Launcher alumni now working in some of the best companies around the world.
We, as an organization, have been fortunate that one of our co-founders is a technology guru. This has enabled us to be at the forefront of technological advancements over the years.
A case in point is our launch of two games on Amazon’s Alexa last year, wherein students preparing for multiple exams can enhance their Vocabulary and General Knowledge using an Amazon-enabled device or the relevant app.
Our current digital platforms are completely state-of-the-art; and, as shared earlier, our Aspiration.Ai portal has been used by more than 35 lakh students and boasts of 55 crore online questions!
It is impossible to have smooth sailing without facing the high tides. However, there is a way out to every problem, which helps an individual to grow and learn.
Take COVID-19, for example. We have found ourselves in a situation where all 200 of our study centers across the country are closed, and it is impossible to determine when the restrictions will be lifted for educational institutions. Even when that happens, social distancing norms would require that classes will not run at anywhere near full capacity. One has to make a choice in this situation: either to accept that we find ourselves in tricky circumstances, or to stay focused on our commitment to our customers, and find agile solutions to deal with the challenge. As a responsible organization, we have come up with technology-based solutions to ensure that our accountability towards our customers is not compromised.
The current scenario brings with it a lot of innovative ideas, via which we can continue to serve our customers to the best of our abilities. Most of these involve product design and use of the best-available technology. However, such initiatives tend to be par for the course right through the year. It is just that during times like these, the speed and scale at which they get executed are accelerated.
As an organization, we relentlessly pursue excellence in everything we do; and innovation lies at the heart of our decision-making, our adoption of technology, pedagogical changes, etc., which are our daily goals.
Our focus right from the start has been to help every student achieve his/her potential. To do so, a baseline needs to be established first.
This is done through a diagnostic test, at the conclusion of which a goal-setting session takes place. During the session, a realistic assessment is presented to the candidate about the institutes he/she can aspire to join, institutes that should be targeted as is, and a safe list of institutes that can be considered as backup.
Over the course of every student’s preparation with us, his/her performance is evaluated and tracked regularly; and the targets are kept in sight at all times. Also, monthly parent-mentor meetings are scheduled to ensure that parents too are kept abreast of their wards’ performance.
Dream big. Nothing is impossible. However, there is absolutely no substitute for hard work. Remember that saying, the universe will conspire to make your dreams come true... if you put in the effort; you’ll be amazed at how all the pieces will fall in place.