Interview: Vinesh Menon, Co Chair CII National Education committee & CEO Ampersand Group

Vinesh Menon

An exclusive interview with Vinesh Menon, Co Chair CII National Education committee & CEO Ampersand Group

Vinesh Menon has been involved with the School education landscape for more than a decade now and adding value to both private K12 schools and government schools. He is currently the Chief Executive Officer at Ampersand Group, a Rustom Kerawalla founded multifaceted institution that is focussed on driving significant outcomes through education, skilling and healthcare services in association with the government bodies and operates the reputed VIBGYOR group of k12 private schools.

Also, as the Co-Chair of CII National Education Committee, Menon will be a catalyst to drive impactful initiatives to transform education delivery in the country.

Vinesh Menon is seen as a beacon of innovation and is a huge proponent of using technology as a support system to academia to drive scale and quality in the classroom. He believes that significant interventions need to be made through the value chain right from cradle to career to define a new India in the coming decade and a half.

Can you provide an overview of Ampersand Group’s mission and how it aligns with the objectives of transforming lives and contributing to nation-building through education and skilling?

Vinesh Menon: AMPERSAND is a multifaceted education group that intends to transform human lives through interventions in the realms of Education, livelihood and healthcare. The three streams are what predominantly contributes to the Human Development Index (HDI) of the nation and HDI is a key metric to track nation’s progress.

We do this through our contribution both in the private school sector and in association with the government bodies. The latter is driven through mutually beneficial associations like the Public Private Partnerships.

Could you elaborate on Ampersand Group’s approach to reinventing the elemental ecosystems surrounding the education sector? What unique strategies or initiatives do you employ to achieve this?

Vinesh Menon: The approach is to touch all elements that contribute to quality education delivery and early childcare and education all the way to senior secondary school education, technical education, skilling and livelihood programs. Each of these elements have a gap in the areas of infrastructure, technology, innovation, content, teaching methodologies, assessment platforms and even reinventing of the human capital. 

We are sensitive to the nature of the ecosystem and while technology plays a huge part in the support areas, we believe that a hybrid model of delivery is what suits India as a nation best.  

Ampersand Group places a significant emphasis on public-private partnerships to address Sustainable Development Goals. Could you share some successful examples of such partnerships and their impact on the communities you serve?

Vinesh Menon: The essence of Public Private partnerships or the PPP model drives on the platform where the infrastructure and machinery is owned by the government, but the rendering of the services is outsourced.

Many examples of PPP in the areas of aviation, infrastructure management, healthcare exists, and we believe that even in the vast and critical area of education, the concept of PPP if handled with the right ingredients will be a progressive move.

We have ventured into a few contracts where the PPP mode has been enabled and we have found it productive and progressive for all stakeholders concerned. AMPERSAND has been involved in game changing initiatives such as digitisation of classrooms by enabling content loaded tablets, having astronomy labs set up in many state schools to promote science & technology, operating and managing state run schools and pre-schools. 

While there are many flaws to a PPP model if not conducted well, the plusses far outweigh the minuses and the level of efficiency, tracking and monitoring goes up while aiming for a time bound completion of a goal. 

How does Ampersand Group leverage its private sector expertise to collaborate with government and other public sector institutions in the education and skilling sector? What are the key benefits of this partnership model?

Vinesh Menon: The group commenced its foray into education through set up of private schools more than 2 decades ago. From one school to forty, the learning for the group has been immense. It must be emphasised here that the private schools operational are not franchised.

This also ensures standardisation of delivery without affecting the quality. quality delivery in all areas that influence a good institution and includes learning spaces and design, pedagogy, sports and art facilities, transportation, academic content, etc.

The decade of experience that we garnered during this journey was applied in our approach to the government sector and we soon realised that the levers for transformation are almost the same. Thus in a way, the deep exposure in the private sector helped make a significant impact in the outcomes of the government sector in the areas of education, skill development and healthcare.  

Common tools that define quality training, project management, assessment, monitoring systems etc were deployed simultaneously in both private and public sector for most efficient outcomes.

Can you highlight any specific challenges or obstacles that Ampersand Group has encountered in its efforts to contribute to nation-building through education and skilling? How have you addressed or overcome these challenges?

Vinesh Menon: There are two parts to this response. The first challenge is macro in nature and has to do with the policy framework of the country as far as the education sector is concerned. We believe that a for a serious transformation to happen, some game changing moves have to be made and includes revisiting the allocation of budgetary share for education as a % of GDP, abolishment of the RTE act in private schools to name a few.

Education as a concurrent subject also poses several challenges. On the micro side, the speed for transformation has to go up. While NEP 2020 is a great step, execution must get faster. While digitisation of classrooms is a great step, the objective should not be just to “peddle” digital hardware.

While the need to train teachers is a dire need, emphasis must be given in the areas of continuous teacher development and create a more balanced distribution of teachers in government schools. We must realise that India is a large and diverse country and what works for one state will not work for another and what works in a tribal school will not work in a state run school or a private urban school. 

In the rapidly evolving landscape of education and skilling, what innovative solutions or strategies is Ampersand Group exploring to stay at the forefront of creating positive societal impact and achieving its mission?

Vinesh Menon: AMPERSAND as a group is committed to transformation of human lives through education, skill development and healthcare. Our core differentiator lies in our thirst to adapt to changing technologies and innovation and apply the same to enable quality delivery.

As a group, we have developed inhouse expertise in the areas of infrastructure management, transportation services, teacher training, ed tech and attracting top quality human capital. Our Founder chairman Rustom Kerawalla is a visionary and thinks ahead of the times and his obsession with continuous upskilling of the delivery system is a reflection of how the group is striving hard to stay ahead of the curve in an evolving landscape of education and skilling. 

Vinesh Menon’s unwavering dedication and visionary zeal have left an indelible mark on the landscape of education and business in India. As the Co-Chair of CII National Education Committee and CEO of Ampersand Group, he has played a pivotal role in shaping policies, fostering innovation, and driving sustainable growth across the sector.

His steadfast commitment to excellence, coupled with his passion for empowering individuals through education, underscores his role as a catalyst for change.

As we look towards the future, Vinesh Menon’s leadership serves as an inspiring reminder of the transformative power of education in shaping societies and empowering individuals to realize their fullest potential.

Are you an Entrepreneur or Startup?
Do you have a Success Story to Share?
SugerMint would like to share your success story.
We cover entrepreneur Stories, Startup News, Women entrepreneur stories, and Startup stories

Read more Success stories of Indian entrepreneurs, Women Entrepreneurs & startups stories at SugerMint. Follow us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn