We talked to Michael Wharton of EduAims about its ‘unbiased’ education consultancy.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Michael Wharton: Thankfully, All seems to be going well till now. Like everyone, we have been impacted, but things could have been much worse, so my family, my company, and I are very thankful.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded EduAims.
Michael Wharton: I founded EduAims, a global niche overseas education consultancy along with my friend and partner, Sadi Ahmad, back in 2011. We had just completed our education from prestigious international universities and identified a gap in the education consulting market. Most consultancies at the time did not focus on helping candidates achieve top admits but rather sent students to lowly-ranked universities, with which they had a commercial tie-up. We aimed to challenge the status quo and started one of India’s first organized ‘unbiased’ education consultancy. We have helped over 10,000 students gain admissions and $50+ million worth of funding from top universities all across the globe. We have recently expanded globally and now have an office in the UAE.
How does EduAims innovate?
Michael Wharton: I believe that innovation is the key to not just success, but is required even for basic long-term survival. In a rapidly changing world, we strive to keep redefining ourselves and our approach. The number one focus of our innovation has always been research. We remain very well aware of the situation across the globe and keep learning about new developments and technologies that can help refine our services and processes. It is imperative to keep challenging ourselves and never set into a comfort zone.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Michael Wharton: The pandemic affected ours adversely when it first came. The effects were primarily because of the lockdowns and the associated freeze in the economy. However, we have evolved and shifted to a WFH model. We have worked a lot on streamlining processes, and we have even utilized technology to standardize processes to keep a high level of accountability. We also focus on team-building and regular virtual meet-ups to ensure high team morale and a conducive working ‘environment.’ Despite an initial slowdown, our swift steps have allowed us to meet our initial forecasts and carry out business well.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Michael Wharton: Thankfully, we did not have to make too many difficult choices. None of our staff members were laid off. All our decisions during this pandemic were based on the long term strategy, and we have always aimed to understand how our systems need to be reshuffled and improved for progressive growth. There is no point in being profitable if we can’t take care of our people, which has been the number one driving force behind the company.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Michael Wharton: Stress and Anxiety are a regular part of any entrepreneur’s life. The first step to dealing with such emotions is acceptance – to realize and understand that there are things beyond our control and to simply focus on giving our best to the things within our control. People spend a lot of time thinking about consequences and sometimes even take drastic steps. However, managing stress is about being disciplined and not allowing the circumstances to cloud our logical judgment. I am lucky to be working with smart and wonderful people around me, and that’s my biggest stressbuster – my confidence in the team.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Michael Wharton: We do not really have institutional competitors, as most competitor institutions end up tying up with universities and bringing ‘bias’ into their business model. There are a few individual players, but the kind of support and expertise we are able to provide with our team is unparalleled. In fact, it is this uniqueness that has allowed us to expand beyond the borders of India.
Your final thoughts?
Michael Wharton: Remember to take out time for yourself and your family. Remember, ‘ we work to live, and do not live to work.’