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Institution Building Takes Years

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Manjula Pooja Shroff,
CEO, Calorx, Ahmedabad

“Being a student of Management, I played to my key strengths which are developing and leading a team, creating systems and processes, crisis handling and problem solving, hiring and training, financial planning, budgets and fiscal controls, giving direction and visioning,” says Manjula Pooja Shroff, CEO, Calorx, Ahmedabad

Please share the genesis of Calorx Group and your journey with us.
When we started the Delhi Public School at Ahmedabad, way back in 1996, there was much need for change in schooling in the state of Gujarat. Since then, we have worked up the entire vertical from Pre-school to University and several K-12 schools across Gujarat. There have been several moments of success. Whether it is creating a 35 Cr education brand ‘Calorx’; or creating projects for the economically marginalised through Visamo Kids, for those with special learning needs Prerna – a school for dyslexics; Vocational and Educational Development Institute of Calorx (VEDIC) – teaching  underprivileged children to learn and earn.
With two DPS – one for children residing in affluent Western Ahmedabad and the other for kids in the industrial suburbs of eastern Ahmedabad – Calorx Public Schools at Mundra, Rajula, Bharuch, Ahmedabad and Godhra, franchisees run pre-schools, an International School – Calorx Global and a University for teachers’ training- Calorx teachers University, the Calorx brand of education covers today the entire spectrum of learning from entry point at pre schools to exit point at University, from the underprivileged to the affluent and from national (CBSE) to international (International Baccalaureate). “Being the First Choice among all target groups by providing quality education” is the vision statement for Calorx. This is the guiding force which has helped Calorx grow vertically from preschools to University in a short span of 18 years.

Over the last decade schools have undergone many changes. What are the things you learnt about education and schools?
There has been a tremendous change in schooling over the past decade. First the quality of infrastructure  went through a sea change. Quality infrastructure is not looked upon as a need for high-paying schools alone. The government’s focus on quality education and the recent academic reforms will force school education away from rote learning to building the skill sets required for the 21st century learning. Technological advancement in education is fast changing the look and feel within classrooms.
Passionately devoted to quality education, Calorx is a technology conscious organisation. It was the first to introduce laptops for teachers. We have used AMDs chips for cost constrains way back in the mid 90s. In our classrooms, students have been extensively introduced to modern technologies. We have introduced a number of HR management tools in all schools of Calorx which stand out as innovative and good school management practices and are instrumental in bringing about a lot of dynamic changes in the operations and management of schools. the list of modern technologies and HR practices implemented in the Group projects are e-Learning, school portal, management system, the Mascot, Huddles, Calorx Code and many more.

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Expansion Plan
10 Calorx Public School: Owned, Joint Venture & Management Models
(COCO + COFO models)
13 Pre-schools on Franchise Model (COFO model)

Under what model do you operate these schools?
Calrox believes in empowering children and helping them to succeed in all spheres of life. This is the reason why Calorx has added new dimensions to its portfolio ensuring that it covers every segment of the society. Relentless pursuit of growth and innovation has helped us surpass expectations creating new benchmarks in the field of education.  Economic value for education is another parameter the schools are judged by besides the cage old, board result marks. With the advent of international schools, the tuition fees have seen a steep rise. This is only for a small percentage of the school, the larger population still prefers good educational value for money.

 How challenging is it to find skilled management team, especially for the education vertical?
It is not easy to get quality resource;  one has to do the best with what one gets through the recruitment pipeline. Each year we receive over 5,000-6,000 applications for employment. We have put together a good team which is responsible for standardised education across all the schools. Our visionary leaders are defining the future of education. Our experienced leadership team consists of enthusiastic professionals.

Some best practices
• Good school management and HR practices
• Continuous improvement in teaching technologies and methodologies
• Continuous infrastructure and other developments
• Holistic developments of children
• Our commitment and sincerity in defining WORLD, is what sets us apart. Most of us have a background in education, with a deep commitment to learn and teach, to help schools, teachers and students, improve the education scenario by using 2i/2t i.e. Innovation & Interaction through Teachers & Technology

What would be your suggestion for those who are planning to venture into starting a new educational establishment?
The intention of the promoter has to be in sync with the education sector dynamics. If the promoter is clear about a long gestation, high-intensity infrastructure and capital funding, with a lot of statutory regulation and governance needs, then the K-12 sector is worth entering into. Anybody, who is looking for quick returns and is hoping for rapid top line and bottom line growth, may be in for a surprise. Institution building takes years. Both the tangible and intangible has to be constantly nurtured. Moulding students and creating them as National Assets and Global citizens is a task that takes 10-15 years. For those who have a passion for education, it is a very fulfilling, gratifying and enriching experience.

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