Coining on an innovative concept, Helen O’Grady International has attained great success across the globe through its unique speech and drama programme. Arpita Mittal, CEO, Helen O Grady International shares the future plans of her company in a tete-e-tete.
Ramanjit Kaur (RK): How did Helen O’Grady International came into being? Kindly, elaborate on the origin, growth and success of the company.
Arpita Mittal (AM): Helen O’ Grady International was founded by Helen O’ Grady in Perth, Australia, 1979. Helen apart from being a qualified teacher also worked extensively in children’s television as a presenter and producer. She used her knowledge to create a unique and developmental drama programme which then attained great success internationally. The company entered India in 2003 through license agreement.
RK: What is the USP of Helen O’Grady International?
AM: Helen O’ Grady International offers a unique speech and drama programme for children between three to 18 years of age. The USP is its unique well structured curriculum which spans a cycle of 15 years and ensures that no child ever repeats a single lesson in his entire duration of this course, even if s/he is with us for 15 years.
The curriculum is uniform across the globe and hence presents a truly global platform to students who are given opportunities to explore their potential at par with other students anywhere in the world. Practical learning through energetic classes guided by well trained teachers in our drama system as opposed to theory classes that depend on rote learning and add pressure to our already over burdened kids, is another significant difference. The best part is that there is no competition and no exams, only positive motivation and an equal opportunity to all students.
RK: When and what inspired Helen O’Grady International to take the franchise route to expand the business in India?
AM: Helen O’ Grady and her husband Steve Griffith were extremely keen on launching the programme in India. Steve with an emotional connection truly wished to offer this fun filled and creative educational knowledge to children and the youth of India. The young scion of the business family of the Govind Properties Pvt. Ltd, Harsh Seksaria happened to observe a Helen O’ Grady class in New Zealand and was floored by it. This is how we got the license for the programme in 2003 in Mumbai. Later in 2005, we got the franchise rights to expand the brand further in India. 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.
RK: How many franchised centres do you presently have? What are your future target locations to expand?
AM: We have around 300 centres operating within schoolsactivity centres across India. These are being run by our 30 franchiseesMaster Franchisees. We have franchisees in various cities such as Maharashtra, Goa, MP, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, NCR, Rajasthan, Chandigarh and neighbouring countries like Maldives and Srilanka, Nepal, Mauritius, and Bangladesh. Now, we are targeting states like Karnataka, Kerala, Orissa, Bengal, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, and UP in India.
RK: What kind of background is necessary to secure the franchise of the company?
AM: People who are already working in the field of education are the perfect candidates for our business module. Also, those who have a passion for education and wish to enter this highly rewarding field can also secure our franchise. Here enlisted few more elements are a must to be a part of our organisation. These include:
RK: What kind of training and support does a franchisee get after partnering with your company?
AM: After the initial exchange of mails, which establishes the note of intent on the part of the future franchisee, the candidate is invited to come to our head office in Mumbai for a ‘Discovery Day’ where they are made to observe demonstration classes and basic franchisee training regarding the operations and processes is imparted. Once the agreement is signed, onsite teacher’s training is conducted three times in the first year of operation. They are trained in the exclusive Helen O’ Grady drama system with its unique methodology. From the second year, franchisees can request for paid trainings or attend the workshops in Mumbai.
In addition to this, onsite business development training is offered which includes meetings with principals, educationists, and trustees. We firmly believe in regular day-to- day handholding and guidance to our franchisees.
RK: What are the future plans of the company in terms of expansion through franchising?
AM: Our target is to expand from 300 centres to 500 centres in the coming year by increasing centres with existing franchisees and by developing new area franchisees.