Sharani Narayana, the director of Narayana Group of Educational Institutions, is a name to be reckoned with among Indian women entrepreneurs. With the aim of helping students achieve their goals, she works tirelessly to help the Narayana group become a leading institute in the country. She has been the driving force for some of the unique coaching concepts and inspires young minds along the way.
In a riveting conversation with Storiyaan, Sharani gives readers an interesting take on the difference between the education system in Indian and abroad. Sharani Narayana also excites us about some of the future plans of the esteemed Narayana Group. Read to know more.
Questions and answers
How did you come up with the idea of initiating junior colleges in India?
It all started with my father’s humble dream. He began a small coaching centre and never fathomed that one day it’ll be so popular that we will have 620 schools and colleges throughout 16 states and 4.5 Lakh, students. My father, a mathematic gold medalist with a PhD in statistics, started out with just 5 members and look where we are today!
What was the thought behind launching integrated coaching courses, and what are the strategies taken for the promotion of it?
Narayana Institutes are mainly concentrated in the North of the country. Ever since the competition became fierce, Narayana has taken on the challenge and contributed to about 30% of examinations. The system of the North is great; the students study for 7-8 hours and pursue co-curricular activities as well. The strategies we used for promotions were mainly word of mouth. With everything now being digital, we have a PR system, database and marketing team as well.
According to you, what are the key things that our Indian education system lacks, and how can we fill the gap?
The key difference between our education system and the western model is the inherent mugging-up attitude. Whatever you read, you can mug-up and appear for the exams and score 99 or 100%, and that’s enough for your career in India. In the western world, the modules are application-based; only students who truly understand the concepts can excel. I think that is one area where the Indian education system can be changed.
You have advised students to 'build good skills'. Could you elaborate on what these good skills are and how students can hone it?
By good skills, I mean communication skills and personality development. For instance, to help one face their stage-fear, body language and presentation matters. Alongside knowledge, personality development is also necessary. These skills can be acquired and learned through the courses of life.
Tell us something about the Aaryan Charitable Trust.
It’s been one year since my brother’s death, and that’s when I started my charity. The main motto of Aaryan Charitable Trust is to serve those who cannot afford an education and also those who suffer from malnutrition. During the summer, there was a lack of water supply, and we made sure that we offer free and safe drinking water to the disadvantaged.
After running online channels for competitive exam programs, what other initiatives do you think we need to launch in the era of the digital education sector?
Education itself has transformed a lot due to the pandemic and has become more digital. We’re trying to propose a business model by preparing a lot of educational videos and content using different technology, which will be beneficial for students and Narayana as well.
What was your initial inspiration to start blogging and become a mom blogger?
I started my Instagram and blogging journey with one main motive of promoting Narayana and meeting and interacting with students. This is because it matters to me how students feel about the systems we have initiated. I’ve also started a versatile show that motivates students and guides them in the right way to help them succeed on the professional front. I didn’t think I would come such a long way, but here I am, and I’m enjoying every step.
How do you garner the attention of the audience to boost the overall engagement on your blog?
The key is personal interaction, and it’s not only about others reaching out to you, but it’s also about the way you respond to them. Even small interactions increase engagement; whether it’s liking or replying to comments, it’s all essential. Another key element is being consistent and genuine. Showing the raw ‘not-so-happy’ side of life also helps the audience relate and connect with me.
According to you, why do most students fail to build skills related to their career interest?
One particular reason for this is the lack of basic interest. So many orthodox families force their children into a certain stream. I also think another factor is the negative impact of comparison. The judgment on the basis of marks is also something that discourages students from building skills related to their career interest.
Casting your success in a rush can cost you with accuracy. Could you elaborate the statement a little?
I strongly believe that one must not hurry into anything in life. It is imperative to have a deadline, but hurrying up will come at a cost. We all work at different paces towards achieving our goals. It’s not just the speed that matters, but the self-improvement.
What was your first reaction after being honoured with IWDA 2019?
I was excited, to be honest. One reason why I can express myself with confidence is because of Narayana. I remember telling my parents, and they were over the moon. When you receive an award, it is a boost to your confidence.
Could you give us insights on the projects in the pipeline?
We’re coming up with something similar to Byju’s pattern. We’re also working on different schedules and curriculums and including varied languages in Narayana; so we can reach out to a wider audience.
a. Education to you is – knowledge
b. One word for Parenting – joyful
c. Entrepreneurship or teaching – entrepreneurship
d. Favourite Yoga/exercise – exercise
e. Best book read until now – The Secret