Successful, Young, and Muslim: Education, a great equalizer

Education opens up avenues for growth, the second part of the SYM generation of Indians, special three-part series by Charu Bahri for

Limited access to modern education has precluded most Indian Muslims from adequate representation in the private and public sectors and without the know-how to back professional ventures, limited the avenues for youth desirous of kick-starting their own enterprises.

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So, however much you’d like to believe that go-getting, well-read youth like Bandukwala are the new face of the Muslim community, that would amount to naught but mere wishful thinking. Muslim professionals like Bandukwala for whom education is no longer the bottom-line are few and far between.

In stark contrast to Muslim youth struggling to find employment, Bandukwala has crossed the threshold of a wealthier domain riding a Web innovation bandwagon. He now remains preoccupied with issues that would concern a technology-based startup founder, such as attracting and retaining people driven to treat Talent Onions as though it were their own, breaking the mould of successful recruitment companies only being based in cities, engaging clients with win-win solutions, building the Talent Onions brand and now that the economic slowdown is manifest, keeping revenues kicking.

Unlike Bandukwala, education is the be all and end all of Roshan A Mohamed’s work life, but solely because he chose to venture into the niche sector of online education., his global business venture offers online and offline tutorials to students pursuing different education systems, personality enhancement programmes, parent – child counseling and also partners with schools and teachers to provide holistic learning and teaching experiences.

Roshan A. Mohamed outside the office of

As the concept of online tutoring is still in a nascent stage, the Planettutor team strives to literally and metaphorically-speaking, bring home the benefits of online learning to parents and teachers. But education systems across the world are so varied in their priorities and so, Mohamed has specialist teams recruited for their expertise in USA and India to understand the Western and Eastern schools of thought on pedagogy. This cosmopolitan team with representation across the religious spectra then comes together to create the key deliverables of the business. As President, Mohamed busies himself with steering forward the constant product and service innovations, researching new measures to reach out to target audiences, staying abreast with technology and sustaining the momentum of growth across Planettutor’s divisions.

Mohamed reckons his father’s firm beliefs were instrumental for shaping his calling – “A lot of what I have become has to do with my father. He always believed that education is the key to moving up and the only thing with the potential to make a difference to our world.” Mohamed’s short journey has already proven his fathers words. At his workplace, education has permeated differences of caste, creed, gender, nationality and religion as well as brought his team on a common platform.

A many-hued thread spun from the reality of professionalism interlaced with the dreams of youth also binds the Talent Onions team. When it comes to business, Bandukwala doesn’t see himself as a Muslim, but as a leader of a team providing services par excellence. That is how he pitches Talent Onions and Leading Minds to prospective clients. And if he fails, he doesn’t take it personally as he understands that while community preferences sometimes drive decisions in small companies, the playing field levels out as you sail into the ocean of corporate India.

“I once lost a pitch made to an educational institute, probably because it was run by the Lingayat community. But I wasn’t the only loser, a few Brahmins lost too! I don’t worry too much about these small misses,” he says.

Tomorrow: Balance is the key to success