We talked to Sana Farooq, Founder & CEO of ELN about online distance-learning. Here is what she said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Sana Farooq: I’m doing well, and so is my family. These are difficult times for all of us. It helps to focus on what we can control to ensure our safety while being mindful of our mental health. Just taking it one day at a time, I suppose!
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded ELN.
Sana Farooq: I graduated as valedictorian with a Masters in English Literature with Psychology and International Relations minors. I’m a Cambridge qualified trainer as well as a fully qualified Assessor and Lead IQA. I’m also a chartered auditor with the IRCA.
I enjoy traveling the world and connecting with people from different regions. This passion has led me to become a TEDx speaker twice, mentor for the Cherie Blair Programme for Women, and Global Ambassador for the prestigious Blackbox Connect accelerator based in Silicon Valley.
I was on a career break in 2015 whilst I was taking care of my two children and decided to register for my Level 5 teaching diploma. However, I didn’t have the time to commit to a full-time university course or the funds to pay the tuition fee. I began my search for an online distance-learning course instead but couldn’t find anything suitable. So, I decided to start my own online distance-learning company.
How does ELN innovate?
Sana Farooq: We innovate our processes to ensure our candidates have a seamless experience from when they discover our courses to the point they complete their qualifications.
Our LMS allows for interactive self-paced learning online. We keep updating our learning material to make it more accessible and easy to understand. Our students have access to live tutorials and webinars so that they can experience a classroom-like environment even in a self-paced qualification.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Sana Farooq: Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, we have observed different aspects of customer behavior. At the beginning of the pandemic, we saw many customers shift to online learning, and Ed-Tech grew significantly as an industry. However, more recently, as the percentage of fully vaccinated individuals increases, we see a shift towards spending on leisure. Most people choose to spend on travel and other experiences they couldn’t indulge in due to lockdown restrictions. This has affected almost all the players in the Ed-Tech industry negatively.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Sana Farooq: Yes, and I’m sure most leaders have to! I think the most valuable lesson I’ve learned is to let people go if they don’t align with our company values. Most hires who don’t resonate with what we stand for or don’t feel invested in ELN’s growth end up leaving the team anyway.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Sana Farooq: As our company has grown, so has our team and the software that we use to manage our customers. We have a streamlined process for managing customer queries prior to a sale, onboarding once they’ve registered, and post-completion feedback. We use the best mix of tools available to us to assist our team in supporting our customers from registration to completion.
Your final thoughts?
Sana Farooq: In the future, we aim to expand to more countries worldwide and establish ourselves as an online learning partner in both the private and public sectors. Furthermore, we plan on offering training in an increasing number of sectors. We also hope to launch an AI-powered recruitment platform to help the professionals who study our courses find the best possible job placement for them.
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