Tell us about yourself, your background and what you do currently
I am an ‘edupreneur’, a postgraduate from York University and executive alumni from London School of Economics, holding a post-graduate degree from Utkal University and Graduate of Management Education Programme IIM, Ahmedabad.
I was born in a Royal family of Orissa. Our family was very conservative; where ladies were behind purdahs (veils) and there was no equal status given to men and women. The freedom that boys enjoyed was not available to girls. Girls were considered as a marriage commodity, to be married off as soon as they complete their studies at the age of 10 or 12. After this, there was no further question of higher studies.
Since childhood, I was revolutionary about this inequality. I suppose my leadership skills and ability to stand up to my opinion were developed from those early days.
At school, I was an all-rounder, known for my penchant to social services, sports and for being the captain of the sports team and as well as the Head Girl.
College education was not easy but somehow I convinced my parents and they allowed me to study in a women’s college. After completing my education at the women’s college, I went on to complete my further studies as well. It is this education that has stood me in good stead today.
In 1995, with 16 teachers and 400 students, we started our first institution, Delhi Public School affiliated to CBSE. Since then there has been no looking back and today we have 40+ institutions, from pre-school to university, in two countries, eight cities, 12000+ students and 24+ nationalities.
As Chairperson of Kalorex, I am instrumental in founding and managing several premier schools since its inceptions in 1995.
Tell us about any current projects or initiatives you wish to promote
We operate 40+ institutions across Western India and have created international footprints in UAE by establishing a pre-school chain, under the name of Blessings. The school’s portfolio consists of two Delhi Public Schools, one International Baccalaureate School, 11 Calorx Public Schools, 20 pre-schools, four Special Focus projects, Champions Schools (an Integrated Model School in Gujarat) and a university.
With our committed focus, we wish to expand our operations across Pan India in the next three years and add institutions in the Middle East region.
We cater to the learning needs of normal as well as special students, to the rich and the poor equally.
Kalorex has a distinctive vision of expanding by way of inviting partners to join hands to invest in Infrastructure facilities. Kalorex will bring in the Institutional expertise/experience by taking over the Operations and Management of the Schools. Investments are mainly pertaining to the working capital and growth of the schools. In business terms, we call it an asset light model.
What has been your biggest challenge in achieving your success?
There were plenty. First the name “Delhi” was treated as an outsider in the state of Gujarat, one had to work twice as hard for acceptance. CBSE as a board was also relatively new. The group has many firsts and has been a trailblazer in many areas such as in use of IT in classroom, using flip classroom techniques, games and sports or quality infrastructure.
A young female entrepreneur, a couple of decades back when I started out, did not inspire too much trust – I have proved my worth, my capability and my ability to lead a male professional world, several times over.
The journey has been challenging, uphill but very exciting and gratifying.
What has been your greatest achievement personally?
The ability to achieve a work and personal life balance. Besides being a careerist, I enjoy hobbies like singing and dancing. An avid outdoor person, I run and cycle besides being a complete fitness freak and have also participated in marathons, cyclothons. I have tried my hand at skiing, skydiving and snorkelling. Whether it is a land, sea or air adventure, I have tried to give it a shot.
If you weren’t doing what you do now, what would you be doing?
I believe I would have been a classical dancer or a singer. However, I have found my passion in the field of education.
Who has been your biggest inspiration?
I have three role models who inspire me. First, is my grandmother Srimati Devi, second is Lady Diana [the commoner Princess] and third is Former Secretary of State-USA, Ms. Condoleezza Rice.
What does the future hold for you?
The future is exciting and promising. The world is my oyster. Kalorex hopes to grow into 100 schools within the next three years.