First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Mansur Shohag: Since we entered the strange world of Covid, we have been working hard while ensuring my family is safe. Not allowing any friends or family inside our home since Covid Breakdown has been very difficult, but we did manage to overcome by arranging occasional virtual parties.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Osborne Training.
Mansur Shohag: I have started my career as a charted accountant. Then, I founded Osborne Training in 2013 to offer professional and practical accounting training to share my broader audience expertise. Osborne Training started from a very humble beginning. However, over the past years, our growth was rapid, and now we are one of the leading and fastest-growing accountancy training providers in the UK.
How does Osborne Training innovate?
Mansur Shohag: Innovation was a core part since the beginning of the journey.
Development of interactive mock test software: Osborne Training has developed an interactive mock test software for various accounting courses. Students can use this software to identify the weakness and strengths by themselves.
Development of Virtual Study mate: Osborne Training has developed an engaging virtual study mate. It helps students learn and revise the subjects within a shorter period without being bored.
Remote job placement: Osborne Training arranges remote voluntary job placement for people with mobility disabilities. It helps them gain practical exposure to work from home and increase their confidence level.
Development of Practical Accounting course: Osborne Training offers practical accounting training to bridge students’ skill gaps. Practical accounting training is very effective for graduates and exam qualified accountants with no practical work experience in the accounting sector. It enables them to upgrade their practical accounting skills set, which is desired by the employers.
Fast-track course design: Osborne training has designed a fast-track course for Experienced Accountant professionals without a certificate from an accountancy body. With the fast-track course, a student can save time and money by almost 30%.
Development of Social Learning: Teachers at Osborne Training create a WhatsApp group to provide regular updates to the students. Students can also ask the question directly to the teacher through WhatsApp. Teachers can send the lecture notes to the student in advance, and students can engage in a group discussion. Osborne Training offers accounting lessons using the Facebook live interactive streaming feature.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Mansur Shohag: It is a very challenging time for us as we offer face-to-face training programs all around the UK. We have been running our operation successfully so far with the help of cloud-based technology.
While other accountancy training providers are struggling to cope with Covid challenges, Osborne training is the only accountancy training providers in the UK embraced the Covid challenges and offered accountancy training courses and exams all around the UK without major disruption. We have also implemented the highest level of health and safety measures to protect our students, following the government’s advice. Osborne Training offers classroom-based and online training courses. Our center-based operation was temporarily closed between March 2020 and June 2020. However, we continued our operation online, and we offered online live lessons using our Virtual Learning Classroom (VLC). Our online tuition helped students to utilize their time and gain an internationally recognized accounting qualification.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Mansur Shohag: We had to put some of our colleagues onto the furlough scheme. It was a difficult choice for us, as most of them are loyal and dedicated to our company. However, we had to make a difficult decision for the best of the company’s interests.
My top 5 lessons learnt from this pandemic:
1. Invest in cloud-based infrastructure: Most of the accounting training companies are just focusing on generating more revenue and more customer acquisitions. Osborne Training has invested heavily in their IT infrastructures and online learning platform. It helped Osborne Training to embrace the Covid challenges without any major disruption.
2. Learn to embrace changes: new business leaders need to embrace the changes related to flexibility and working from home to lead the post-pandemic business world
3. Prioritize your key business decisions: as the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown restrictions were taking place swiftly, business leaders were facing difficulties in making decisions. In the post-pandemic business world, it is important for the business to prioritize the key business decision and allocate the responsible person to make a prompt decision.
4. Take care of your employees and their health: Employees health and safety is the key to a sustainable business world. Employers need to do more to take care of the employees, especially health.
5. Save the environment and save the planet: Heavy deforestation all around the world and an increase in environmental pollution are resulting in unavoidable global warming, environmental disasters, and pandemics. Business needs to take more initiatives to reduce pollution and global warming. We have taken various measures to address that by reducing paper usage, embracing solar technology, reducing energy usage, reducing unnecessary traveling, improving virtual communication further, etc.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Mansur Shohag: Regular exercise is the key to reduce stress levels. I would recommend just go for a long walk. Go to a park and enjoy nature. Take a break and enjoy your time with your family and loved ones.
Your final thoughts?
Mansur Shohag: This pandemic has taken away some of our loved ones. The business has never been as fragile as it is now. Thousands of people around the lost their jobs. As a business leader, it is our new responsibility to save our planet as well as our loved ones. Let us all work together to see a post-pandemic greener, healthier, and safer world. In this post-pandemic era, it is absolutely vital that further training and skills development are given more importance to overcome the economic challenges lying ahead.
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