Education Stalwarts 2021 | Dr.‌ ‌Manimekalai‌ ‌Mohan‌ ,‌Founder‌ ‌&‌ ‌Managing‌ ‌Trustee‌ ‌of SSVM‌ ‌Institutions | Leaders in Education

Dr.‌ ‌Manimekalai‌ ‌Mohan‌ ,‌Founder‌ ‌&‌ ‌Managing‌ ‌Trustee‌ ‌of SSVM‌ ‌Institutions, one of the top Leaders in Education is with EducationToday sharing her experience.

I was born and raised in Trichy. I completed my Post Graduation in Psychology & Rehabilitation Science from Holy Cross College, Trichy. Later I received the Honorary Doctor of Letters (D.Litt) from America West University and University of South America in 2016, and the Honorary Professor of the Academic Union, Oxford, UK, in 2019. 

Spreading knowledge and serving the needy had always been my passion in life, and when I got married and moved to Sirumugai, Mettupalayam, Coimbatore, I was motivated by my neighbour women to start my entrepreneurial journey as an educator. I was lucky to work with those women who shared my vision, and we built a great team to initiate SSVM to help children access quality education. My love for spreading knowledge and the need for the rural milieu fuelled my desire to begin my first playschool in 1998. Blending strategic thinking with creative and pragmatic implementation, SSVM creates and manages curricular and extra-curricular programs that produce real results- a changed and educated audience, a compelling brand and a more productive workforce. As the Founder and the Managing Trustee, I set the vision, mission, value system, culture, and strategic direction of SSVM Institutions. 

This educational journey has been a tremendous learning experience. It has, in numerous ways, designed and defined who I am. As an Edu-preneur, I am always concurrently a teacher and a student, as well as a mentor and a protégé. I want to always look squarely at those who trust me, and this need drives my core decisions cum actions. It is these characteristics that drove me to start SSVM. I think my belief to stay true to my core value system has enabled me to attain this stature and be a successful leader. I also think I was very fortunate to learn early on what I really want from life. Overall, the journey has been one of personal self-discovery and professional growth. I have so much more learning, development, and discovery ahead of me in all facets of my life. And I shall willingly embrace all of it.

When I saw children in the rural environs with no exposure to the outer world, I wondered that if these children were educated, they could have stood up for themselves, and their parents would have realised their children’s potential. That incident left a deep mark, and I was determined to do something to bring a change in Sirumugai, Mettupalayam. This allowed me to learn how imperative it is to embrace change because, at any given time, we may need to shift strategies due to circumstances beyond our control. Finally, I have learned that failure is not an option when you are in the middle of the ocean. We must keep swimming. I had immense patience and faith that things will turn out the way they were meant to be, and that is how I was able to give the desired shape to SSVM.

There were plenty of initial hurdles and setbacks in my journey, but that helped me understand my true passion for education and learned to enjoy the learning curve. My determined-self had selflessly envisioned to provide students with a lively learning atmosphere with strong values and Indian ethos. Students should consume every opportunity to progress in all their endeavours and become the right citizens cum leaders of our nation. The different arrays of academic and extra-curricular facilities must ensure that learners surpass in all pursuits of life. SSVM, with the same determination, has come a long way and believes that education must help children excel holistically in academics, sports, arts, and co-curricular pursuits, while ensuring their safety and well-being. As educators, we must understand that education’s future lies in teaching the learners core skills such as problem-solving, decision making, analytical skills and creating space for innovation. Good teachers are instrumental in shaping the future generation and hence, SSVM ensures that the faculty members are provided with the best resources, skills and environment to perform to the best of their capacity and help sustain a supportive, caring and positive environment for the learners and parents. 

I believe women make great leaders because we undertake calculated risks. We are more robust with a greater attitude towards bouncing back from hard knocks! I calibrate my interactions based on the situation and task at hand – there isn’t a singular approach. The quality time over quantity is what I would like to emphasize here. Look at one another as human beings and try backing them up with what you could to help them lead a happy life. I believe that the purpose of true education is met when our learners achieve this human education in their lives. 

I have received numerous National and International Awards and honours as a leader, edupreneur and woman entrepreneur for the quality education that SSVM has been giving to all learners, and how our students take forward the quality of education received from our Institutions. I thank all my students and my team who made this possible. I am grateful to those parents who trust SSVM and have given their children in our hands to nurture them. The successful online sessions at SSVM, especially during the pandemic, are what I consider to be our most significant achievement where we have provided every student with an uninterrupted learning experience without compromising the quality of teaching-learning. 

My passion for education and my love for my children supported me in equal measure towards building my dream institutions of knowledge and wisdom. It was very early in life that I realised quality education is the need of the hour. I always wanted to create a happy and purposeful learning space. I envisioned to create a generation of lively young minds and leaders by providing holistic education, and I was backed by my husband, Mr. Mohandoss, to achieve my vision. I have always loved to derive learning from every walk of my life, and my experience from the diverse people I meet every day. Problem-solving through practical learning is a founding principle of SSVM. I realised that I enjoyed exploring ideas that spark innovation to solve real-life problems and positively impact the learners and parents. I am constantly striving to make our learning community healthier, more resilient, and I am happy that our learners are enjoying working collaboratively with numerous national and international learning partners. 

My message to the upcoming professionals in the field of education is-Have the courage to take risks as you will either win by drastically changing things, or by having learned something; surround yourself with people bringing different uncomfortable perspectives; manage your time; and stay aligned with who you indeed are! I always believe in being individually responsible, and when you remain true to your own value system and inspire yourself for the next productive action, you can be assured that the world will be inspired one day. Let’s embrace the journey and believe that we can succeed.

Do check out experiences shared by our top 50 leaders in education. All of the Leaders in education who have shared their experience with us have been motivating and life changing.

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