As one of the founders of People Combine, what are some of your personal values which got incorporated in the organisational values?
I strongly believe in innovation, compassion and accountability and all 3 of these are reflected, not only in our value statement, but in everything we do. We introduced IB curriculum way back in 2001,when it was not much heard of in India;we digitised education way before it became a buzzword, and we have taken proactive measures to protect children from any sort of harm not as a response to any unfortunate incident, but as a positive preventive measure. We are compassion- ate in the way we approach education as well as employee welfare and at the same time we believe in accountability and performance. We respect people who put their mission ahead of everything else.
What are the biggest challenges facing the education industry today and how are you dealing with it?
There are many, but undoubtedly the biggest one is teacher readiness. As we know, being a teacher is not just about transferring knowledge but about shaping human minds. Sourcing and recruiting the right talent is a challenging task and despite that we do not make any compromises. We have a rigorous screening and selection process. We put in a lot of effort in training teachers on not only subject skills but also on classroom management, child psychology and enquiry-based teaching methodologies.
What are the innovations in people management that you cherish?
There’s long list of innovation in hiring, training, recognition, retention, career growth and incentives. We are perhaps one There’s long list of innovation
in hiring, training, recognition, retention, career growth and incentives. We are perhaps one of the few educational institutions which has a strong HR focus. We offer a structured multi-year incentive program for teachers, and that too a very substantive one. Many teachers who joined us as primary school teachers 6-7 years ago are part of the school management team today. We give freedom, exposure and responsibilities to our educators. We bet on people. Once we trust them, we give them challenging roles and support them until they succeed. We don’t give up easily. As far as our policies are concerned, we are flexible to the extent possible in the education sector. In addition to maternity and other legally mandated leaves, we also provide paternity, marriage, bereavement and adoption leave. Most importantly, we believe in respect and inclusion. Our Code of Ethics is my favourite people practice. Everything else comes out of it.
Naga Prasad Tummala
Co–Founder and Chairman of People Combine Group
It is often said that Education leads to social transformation. Do you agree?
Absolutely! As Nelson Mandela said, education is the most powerful weapon to change the world. When I reflect, I think this is the thought that made me want to become an educationist. Martin Luther King, Jr said that the function of education is to teach one to think intensively and critically. I am inspired by their thinking and I agree that the right education can change the world and make it a better place. We are committed to supporting the government and non-
governmental organisations with frameworks, methodologies and best practices. Every child deserves a good education and we are working in that direction. We support the TS and AP state governments in designing policies for state funded schools.
What is the composition of your executive management team?
We have a good mix of senior leaders who are professionals and have experience with some of the most respected corporate houses in the world, like McKinsey, Microsoft, ITC and IBM. We look for people who are entrepreneurial, innovative and problem-solvers. As I said earlier, once we see a value-match, we give our leaders the freedom to lead. I am proud to see the game changing work that they do and am particularly impressed with their multidisciplinary approach. I am a strong believer in values-based leadership and that is what we are extending to our student population-as well.
What are your future plans for People Combine?
We currently operate 8 K-12 Schools and 50 Playschools. We see a huge potential for quality education in India. Hence over the next 3 years we plan to start around 5 more international schools across top cities in the country. These schools would be centres of excellence for education. We also plan to take our offering to some of the international markets including Middle-East and Southeast Asia.