Education is a fundamental tool in building a healthy society, asserts Dr. Manjula Pooja Shroff, MD & CEO of Kalorex Group who strives to empower children of everysegment
With the breakneck globalization, entrepreneurship has seen phenomenal changes in the status of women and workplace diversity in India. As per research, women now constitute10% of the total entrepreneurs. Reforms in female education have helped women recognize their true potential and yield an inevitable contribution to the overall growth and development of the nation.With sheer confidence, innovation and creativity, women entrepreneurs are now capable of achieving economic independence and generate employment opportunities for others through their established enterprise while keeping pace with her personal and social life. The traditions and customs prevailed in Indian society towards women sometimes stand as an obstacle forthem to grow and prosper. Education enables women to respond to the challenges and to confront their traditional role. Women education is the most powerful tool to change the position of femalesin any society, it is indispensable and cohering. It profoundly enhances female prosperity and if looked at beyond its conventional boundaries, forms the very essence of all their actions.Apparently, what education does is bringa reduction in inequalities and function as a mean of improving their status within the family and develops the concept of participation. In the quest for equality with men, women are now embracing a plethora of business opportunities and are making significant efforts to achieve economic growth of the country. Dr.Manjula Pooja Shroff, MD & CEO of Kalorex Group is one such name who fought her way surpassing all societal norms and garnered her higher education from renowned universities like IIM Ahmedabad, York University and London School of Economics and Political Science. She took the plunge and decided to follow her dream.
Manjulajustified her royalty with her intention of giving heed to a humanitarian cause. Amidst allchallenges as a female,Manjula's unbridled passion for providing quality education to children, found her calling in the educational sector. Her dream to empower all possible student groups through the medium of Education and to have the Kalorex banner flying across the country and abroad has now turned into a reality. With a strong value of dedication, compassion, and devotion tocomplete development of children, Manjula initiated her journey by establishing the first Delhi Public School (DPS)in Gujarat in 1996.In the initial days, DPS was looked upon with great skepticism and resistance but the school was bound toflourish because of Manjula's consistent perseverance and sheer willpower. She fearlessly challenged the dominant mindset that condemned the co-ed mode of education and English as a medium of instruction.
A dynamic entrepreneur and an educationist with ardent zeal, Manjula paid heed in every detailed researching before setting the Kalorex Taxonomy for Pre-schools and K-12 Schools encompassing the new age pedagogies applicable to all schools irrespective of the Board they follow. To take all this forward Kalorex Group has set a Learning, Development and Quality Department which monitors the implementation of the Kalorex Taxonomy through Academic and Quality Audits. Ideally, Manjula looked at the holistic development of a child and, therefore, the modeled curriculum is an amalgamation of thoughts developed in a way that could elevate the latent talent of each child to help them become independent, self-confident and inquisitive learners. Manjulahas successfully built the Kalorex chain of schools on the very foundations of love, affection, and warmth ensuring the child's all-round development. She oversees the functioning of a humanistic approach.
Incepted in 1995,the Kalorex Group is an autonomous institution catering to the learning needs of students from all economic groups with itsprimary focus on K-12 educational activities.Designed under the distinctive vision of being the paramount recourse for all possible target groups,Kalorex is a name synonymous with education par excellence.Kalorex has added new dimensions to its portfolio ensuring itstraces in every segment of the society. With the mission of achieving excellence in K-12 education through a sound visionary, innovation and professionalism, the organization has grown leaps and bounds over the span of 20 years. The relentless pursuit of growth and innovation has helped Kalorex surpass expectations creating new benchmarks in the field of education.
Milestones and Future Plans of the Kalorex Group
Since its inception, for around two decades, Kalorex hasestablished under its umbrella, the two Delhi Public Schools (Bopal and East Ahmedabad), Calorx Olive International School – a full spectrum IB school at Ahmedabad and Calorx Public Schools at Rajula, Mundra, Ghatlodia (Ahmedabad), Bharuch, and Jaipur.
The Kalorex Pre-School chain is fast growing and apart from its presence in several cities ofGujarat, it has been expanded to Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, and also in the UAE. The Kalorex Group also has plans to open the pre-schools across the country and more in the UAE in the coming years. The Kalorex Group is also planning to establish Calorx Public Schools in tier 2 cities in the near future.
As a promise to cater to all sections of the society, projects like Visamo Kids Foundation for the underprivileged children and Kalorex Prerna for the students having learning difficulties are initiated by Kalorex. Parallel to these projects, the Kalorex Group is working towards uplifting the unskilled women by giving them vocational training under the institute VEDIC – Vocational Educational Development Institute of Calorx.
The Kalorex Group has grown from 12 to 40 plus institutes in the past 5 years which in itselfis considered as one of the biggest milestones. Currently, they are 40+ Institutions in 2 countries, 8 cities, running under the Kalorex banner having 12,000 plus students from more than 24 nationalities.
The CEO Magazine in conversation with Dr. Manjula Pooja Shroff, MD& CEO of Kalorex Grouptake a note on her comprehensive outlook. Here we go!
Give us a brief about you and Kalorex Group. How and why did you decide to create it? How does it sit within the entrepreneurial ecosystem of India today?
I come from a very conservative royal family in Orissa, the place where I was educated in a good convent school. Girls were then allowed education till 10th standard and were married off at a very young age. When I saw this happening, I realized that this was not the kind of life I wanted to lead. I did not know that education was my liberation but I knew that education above 10th grade was important for me to gain an identity of my own. Thus, my main focus was to do my under-graduation and then graduation. With these degrees under my hat, I became more determined to not only enhance my own educational qualifications but also to empower others through the power of Education.
The Kalorex Group started its operations in 1995 and my translocation to Ahmedabad gave me the opportunity to open my first Delhi Public School, as a franchise in 1996, the success model which led me to a number of initiatives that came up under the Kalorex banner over a span of more than two decades.
My journey as an entrepreneur in India has seen its share of ups and downs. Especially when I started off, me being very young and inexperienced, people did not take me very seriously. Over the years, I started getting motivated when young women took inspiration from my journey to start their own ventures. In the ecosystem of India, today, my journey is very relevant when we are talking about women empowerment and equality.
How are entrepreneurship and working women important for India as a whole?
Irrespective of gender, entrepreneurship is now becoming one of the topmost prioritiesfor the young generation. Women are now successfully running their own businesses and are also venturing into start-ups. It is important that women take more such roles becauseas per a World Bank Study women employers tend to hire a significantly greater number of women.
What is your greatest professional accomplishment to date?
Well, I think I have been successful in giving wings to my dream by initiatinga difference in the lives of students through quality education. When I recall the past two decades and see my 40 plus Institutions flourishing quite effectively, I count this as my biggest accomplishment.
Have you ever failed in your initiatives? What have you learned from your failures?
I have faced many obstacles and hurdles but my optimismand faith in the goodness of things have consistently worked for me, the reason why newer paths and ventures have always opened up.
What is the best decision you've ever made?
To take a plunge into entrepreneurship and live my dream of educating and empowering young students, I believe is the best decision ever.
What has been your greatest inspiration?
The difference that Education creates in people's life has itself been an inspiration.
How do you define success? What is your take on the ways to achieve long-term success?
Success in my contextis when I see my students succeed in their own chosen fields. And, that's when I see my dream come true. Long-term success, according to me, can be achieved if the vision is clear and far sighted. Hindrances and challenges in the journey are quite obvious but can be overcome through continuous perseverance and a positive attitude.
Whom do you attribute your success to?
Success takes place when a number of factors work welland favor the decisionsand risks you take. So, my success can be attributed to the right decisions taken at the right time and the opportunities availedeven if the risk was high. And of course,nothing could have been possible without the tremendous support and cooperation of family and my extremely competent team who largely contributed to shape my vision into a reality.
Do you think your personal life is affected by your professional life? How?
I aspire towards a perfect work-life balance and believe in phases when home or work gain alternate priority. Every professional does a balancing act and you could say that I am fortunate enough to be able to retain the right balance at every point of my personal and professional life. Quality time with family has never been compromised.Even during my professional journey, I kept pursuing my hobbies and passions which kept me motivated and charged for newer challenges. Amidst these, I continue to persevere on my visionto scale Kalorex to dazzling heights with stalwart discipline.
What do you think is the biggest challenge to female leadership?
Women are the torch-bearers of solidity and strength; they are capable of multi-tasking andenjoy doing it. To tell you the truth, a woman may don the hat of a leader but there is hardly any delegation of her other responsibilities which she has to fulfill beinga homemaker, a mother, a caregiver and what not. Without any grievance,she just takes it all in her stride. It becomes challenging when a woman is judged at every step and has todeal with the parochialmindset of the patriarchy.Unlike men, striking a balance between professional and personal life is anincessant expectation from women.
Dr. Manjula Pooja Shroff ends her interview with The CEO Magazine by leaving a positive note for all the glorious women willing to start a business. She elucidates, "Find out and reach your potential. Never think of you to be behind the threshold of ultimate success, for in every woman there is an untapped potential that needs to be unlocked and explored."
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