Important To Train India's Population With Relevant Skill Development

"If you ask what is the one thing XEd did right, we would insist that it was to stay true to offering highly impactful customized solutions to our client organizations."


John Kallelil, Founder & Director, XED Learning Solutions talks to BW People about customized executive education, and revolutionize the executive education in India.  

How has XEd progressed over the years?

We launched in 2015, and in the first six months of our operations itself, we were cash positive with a revenue of $450,000. Last year, 2018, we clocked in annual revenue of $5 million and we are now gearing up to close 2019 with annual revenue of $10 million. We started off in Mumbai with just a 3-member team and today we are headquartered in Singapore, with very a significant customer base in the Middle East and India

How XED is planning to revolutionize the executive education market in India?

If you ask what is the one thing XEd did right, we would insist that it was to stay true to offering highly impactful customized solutions to our client organizations. We initially addressed organizational learning needs by bringing highly accomplished global faculty from Ivy Leagues and prominent business schools in the US, UK, and Singapore where the participants were certified by XEd Institute of Management, Singapore. 

But then we also realized the end user aspired to be recognized for their effort over the learning journey, and hence we partnered with some of the top global business schools like SC Johnson College of Business at Cornell University, INSEAD, Chicago Booth, University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, National University of Singapore, University of Reading – Henley Business School, Leeds University Business School, Singapore Management University, to name a few. The next step was to scale up and how do we provide high-quality b-school content and pedagogies to a few thousand global employees. That was our cue to offer customized synchronous and asynchronous modules to a set of clients who insisted on cost efficiency and scale. 

What challenges do you see in the Indian executive education system? How can they be addressed?

We don’t see Executive Education firm investing time and effort of going all in to offer these customized services. For many of the current executive education providers, the custom is simply a fall out of their public classroom and online programs. 

Over the last 4 years, we have delivered some highly rated programs in several geographies, and each day we have got better at delivering them with unmatched class and precision. While costs efficiencies have been factored in, we guarantee that the time away from work for these senior leaders reaps rich rewards for both the individual and the organization. 

What is the scope for online executive learning in India? What is your success metric?

India’s youth population is the largest in the world, and it is important to reign them over valuable and relevant skill development interventions. Else, we will end up being a demographic disaster. 

Our education system, which in all fairness, has provided some of the smartest CEOs in the world, has not upgraded to changing landscapes. Education has not been able to equate to employable skills. The gap is stark and a lot of work needs to be put in. We are currently engaged with entities within the Indian Government to solve a few pockets of this situation. 

By 2022, we are looking at 829 million smartphone users in India. There could be no better way to reach out and meaningfully engage these next gen. A possible success metric of the Online Learning Platforms would be completion rates, successful certification and absorption rates by the Industry for these newly minted and certified individuals.

Why is there a dire need to address specific Executive Education needs for CEOs and CXOs?

A big idea could revolutionize a Senior Leader’s personal life and their organizational teams. Some of the best ideas are not arrived at in a very structured environment like a workplace or a board meeting. Best of thoughts and ideas have arrived when they are taken outside their formal workplace like a learning intervention

Structured frameworks, new possibilities are seeded in a learning environment and all it takes is a single genius thought to change the whole game for the Organization. 

Over the last few years, the world of business has tread into extremely unfamiliar territory: an era of the tremendous velocity of change. The emphasis on efficiencies has never been so profound. Look around you: many of the billion-dollar companies that you can’t do without like Airbnb, Amazon, Flipkart, Facebook did not exist 20 years ago. So learning, unlearning, reskilling is a mandatory journey and not a luxury anymore. 

How important is design thinking in your leadership-teaching course?

Over the last couple of decades, Executive Education has focused on two composite modules: A. People Leadership B. Strategy 

Under the Strategy Module, a key focus area for Senior Leaders, especially in non-business roles, is to keep the end consumer in mind as you further formulate and execute Strategy. While Strategy focusses on how to create value based on what we are capable, Design Thinking, contrary to Strategy, is a bottom-up approach, though compliments well by solving the customer/consumers’ problem first. 

Design Thinking teaches them that the thinking about the consumer is supremely important, how to do you first identify needs and then what can you do about it when you have identified them. 

Design Thinking and Innovation has today become one of the top Custom Programmes we are offering globally, with several conglomerates, and global governments insisting on such a highly impactful engagement

What are the execution challenges in reverse innovation in India where the majority of the companies are family controlled? 

India is ground zero for Reverse Innovation. Family-controlled organizations, with their cost efficiencies, and speed to market is uniquely positioned to exploit the concept of Reverse Innovation, especially in India. 

While like in any business anywhere around the world there would be execution challenges, Indian family conglomerates, having employed some of the finest Indian talents, definitely has an advantage

How XED’s customized executive education program for senior corporate leaders are designed keeping in mind the digital disruptions in the industry?

Digital Disruptions are here to stay, and XEd has delivered numerous programs in association with SC Johnson College of Business, Cornell University to address these concerns. 

The ability to create and manage digital disruptions profitably differs for those that are in the industry and have existing commitments from a Start-Up/ Entrant who has no stake in the existing industry structure.  Further, the best resolution from disruption from an established firm’s perspective may entail finding ways to combine the disruption with its existing assets and commitments. 

XED Custom Executive Education program design explores the relevant strategy problem from two perspectives – both from the point of view of creating disruption and from the point of view of handling a disruption as an incumbent to your own advantage.  

Beginning with a disruption initiated by an industry outsider we will follow the path of the disruptor to examine how it creates value, shakes up the industry order and becomes the industry leader. However, we will then pursue the disruptor’s own fortunes as they, in turn, get disrupted and will look at cases where they handled post-disruption period with different strategic approaches to either pre-empt or succumb to the second order disruption


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