Education Jun, 09 2010

A dramatic rise

Using the unique medium of drama, to impart speech and communication skills for self-development of the students of all age groups is Helen O’ Grady International. Here is a case study of the company, encompassing its journey, the gains and the pains, a

By Ramanjit Kaur
Feature Writer
A dramatic rise

Helen O’ Grady, a drama academy is the largest organisation of its kind in the world that teaches verbal and non-verbal communication skills using the unique medium of drama. It has 1,500 branches spread across 25 countries. The academy provides a self-development programme through carefully constructed progressive drama syllabus.

Inception of Helen O’ Grady

The academy was founded by Helen O’ Grady in 1979 in Perth, Australia. Before starting this academy, she was working as an anchor for a children’s programme on Australia TV. During this programme, she realised the lack of guidance in speech training and confidence building in children. Being from the drama and acting background, she knew of the developmental nature of drama and used her knowledge to create this unique and wonderful programme. Helen O’Grady International’s incredible journey started as a small Perth-based endeavor to become a worldwide organisation through franchise model.

Model for expansion

To expand the brand across the globe, the company started offering licence and franchise agreements for the drama programme. Presently, Helen O’ Grady International has presence in 25 countries. The company entered India in 2003 through Govind Properties Pvt. Ltd Group of Companies, which holds the licence agreement for expansion of the brand in the country. In 2005, Helen O’ Grady International has started its expansion in India via franchise.

Arpita Mittal, CEO, Helen O’ Grady International says, “Franchising in India had started to look promising by then and our model, with its emphasis on fair practices and best work ethics, fit in wonderfully. Now, we have 30 master franchisees, who are operating 300 centres across India and are growing fast.” The company appoints master franchisees for a particular area and help them in setting up Helen O’ Grady International academy or tying up with schools to offer courses based on drama techniques.

Uniqueness of the courses

Unlike others, the company provides self-development courses based on drama techniques. Its courses emphasise specially on speech and body movements. Mittal says, “We believe in learning while having fun.” Various programmes of Helen O’ Grady International include an element of performance drama which is said to be the most enjoyable part for kids and adolescents. The classes are for one hour duration and held once a week. Each batch has 20 students and is smartly divided into four categories based on age groups. The prime aim of the brand is to help young kids (between five to 17 years) in developing:

  • Enthusiasm, energy and positive approach towards life
  • Confidence
  • Self esteem
  • Skills in verbal communication and social interaction

Take up the franchise

If you want to get associated with this promising opportunity, you can take up its franchise. The requirements for prospective Helen O’ Grady International franchisees are capacity to invest minimum of Rs 3 to 5 lakh for a territory, infrastructure to start an office and basic business acumen. As per Mittal, “This business is perfect for those people who are already working in the field of education and for those who have a passion for education and wish to enter this highly rewarding field.”

Strong business support system

Joining hands with a company like Helen O’ Grady can be quite rewarding as franchisees stand to gain a lot in the long run. Some benefits are: 

  • On site teacher training, which is conducted thrice in the first year of operation
  • On site business development training
  • Help with presentations given to parents for introducing the concept and answering their queries
  • Day-to-day business handling and guidance

The company is successfully franchising across the globe to help children achieve their potential, through participation in this acclaimed drama programme. In India, the company is planning 500 centres by next year. It also plans to expand its network both through existing franchisees and new master franchisees.

Early hiccups

In spite of its unique concept and fresh approach towards self-development courses, the company had to face certain challenges while expanding the business in India.

According to Mittal, “India offers unique challenges to franchisors. The cultural diversity of the country makes every region looks like a different country with different language, education system, attire, work culture and ethos.” Besides this, selection of candidates with correct speech and diction is a challenge. Lack of infrastructure aggravates it further and makes it quite challenging for the company to impart training and other logistical support to partners. But with time, the company has overcome these challenges through focus and commitment. As Mittal says, “Never to shirk responsibility is our key mantra and we spare no expenses in training and supporting our franchisees.”

Related: Scaling up the knowledge business

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