Friday, September 02, 2011

Come September

So this is September and at one point of my life, back in India, this used to be the month when we prepared for change. One ritual in NIIT life used to be a complete reorganization of all functions on the 1st of October, and everyone almost surely knew that they would have a role change on that day. So, as September came, which also happened to be the busiest time of the company's yearly calendar, the last month of the financial year, everyone was busy but secretly preparing, lobbying and positioning themselves for various coveted roles. I was never much of an insider, so the best I could do is to guess what would happen, and the only certainty I lived with was that of change itself. Given that I spent seven years working in NIIT, and at least other seven working closely with ex-colleagues steeped deeply in that culture, I am used to September as the month of the beginning of the end. 1st October, in my mind, is always deliverance.

Since I think that way, my life also shapes up that way. Year after year, big things happened towards the end of September, allowing me to start fresh in October. It is not about any superstition, but just that I am programmed to expect changes and I invariably set myself up that way. This is what I am doing this year as well.

What I am working on is sort of coming to a logical end-point, when I should be able to step back and let things take their course. I am indeed working with a brilliant young team who are perfectly capable of carrying out their responsibilities; for a long time, I have supported and advised them and I now think they are capable of running the show themselves. I am convinced that there are great possibilities in my current project, but the aspirations of my clients may be actually diverging from mine at this time. I am focused on trying to build a high value international Higher Education company: This may not be everyone's cup of tea and understandably there is a clear parting of ways on this point. I am not convinced that the international student recruitment market for British educational institutions can ever go back to the glory days of 2009, but this is precisely the thinking of some of my clients. So, indeed, it is time for me to take the projects to a logical end, enable my clients to consolidate the capabilities and empower my colleagues to run the business, progressively without my intervention, for a few months and then move on.

I am planning to go back to the International Higher Education market-space because that's the market I understand well. This means a return to my traveling days, but it seems inevitable. I am quite a good traveler, tough, flexible, always local, and I am excited with the possibility of being able to travel again. I shall start with a private visit to India, part of which will be to see family and friends, but the other half, I am hoping, I shall be able to spend talking to Indian For Profit colleges about my plans for global education. The idea is to create a globally linked education course, so that the students learn business and other subjects immersed within a truly global context. This is different from the international education now, where there is a source and a destination country, and an assumption that the latter is better than the former (why else a student would want to travel to study). However, I am trying to knit together a network of global schools, who will exchange students and tutors and curriculum, and collectively offer a good value alternative to aspiring students to travel and learn.

Indeed, this is what I was trying to do since 2008, when I started thinking and writing about this idea. For a number of reasons, I couldn't get the project off the ground then. But, today, I am far more prepared to try again: I have spent the intervening years studying about education, knowing more about education technology, building a network worldwide and developing my understanding about how the British Education system works. I am definitely more confident than I was at the time when I started the conversation.

So, this may become the big change in October then, a transition from the staying home mode to the traveling mode, from an advisor mode to a doing mode: As if my life was waiting for this moment.

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"Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the grey twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat."

- Theodore Roosevelt

Last Words

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

- T S Eliot

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