Fatema kick-started her career in the corporate world – an international bank, a media house and then a role in a European consultancy firm when she realised that she wanted to lead teams and not be a part of a team, and that’s when the entrepreneurial genes kicked in and she started her journey in the education space. One has to be inspired by the leaders who empower them, and at one point realised that she was not able to be after she got transferred to a new team and assigned a new boss.
“The incident changed everything, and I can’t be more grateful that I backed myself to make the shift while I was still young and restless” says Fatema Agarkar, the wife of famous former Indian cricketer Ajit Agarkar. She is an educationist and the Founder of ACE (Agarkar Centre of Excellence) – along with her partner, Ajit. ACE is an initiative to combine sports and education with its two distinct verticals, bringing years of experience of the Founders, and the passion and dream to empower Gen Next.
Reminiscing the childhood days, Fatema said, “My father as a pioneering businessman created new rules in his business, and from retail and imports as part of his family business which he chose to part ways, to actually selling to the countries his family used to import from at a time when the ‘Made in India’ story was not as impressive as it is today, growing up years were full of watching my father travel extensively and build, take risks and work hard to change the narrative. With that as a background, the foundation was a great learning lesson.”
Fatema is a State and University topper as part of the prestigious Mumbai based Sydenham College of Commerce & Economics, also holds a degree of Masters in Business Administration (MBA) from Birmingham (UK), apart from her B. ED and ECCE degrees.
The Thought Behind ACE
Declared as India’s Top 50 educators to revive Indian education by the prestigious Education World magazine in June 2020, Fatema’s journey has been about changing the narrative in the education space, a journey that began 20 years ago.
Indian students are talented, and with the right exposure, introduction of best in class teaching and learning outcomes, skilling of teachers and a more evolved parental community, she believes India has great potential. The traditional practices, and myths must make way for modern techniques and the public-private gap needs to be brought down for India to challenge, create and innovate as a country.
“When I left the corporate job, I realized the emergence of evolving the education sector. As a person I find children an enormous source of inspiration, and while pursuing my BCom, I also taught in pre-schools, and that’s when without qualifications, I know I was able to make an impact, simply because of the passion and ability to find innovative solutions to make learning easier for children! This is the reason I picked it up as a career to pursue.
Making this passion a career meant that I wake up every morning, loving everything that I do!” said Fatema in a candid chat with Kenfolios.
ACE has an experienced and dynamic team that provide customised solutions to all stake-holders in the education space – teachers, parents and students by what they call an “end-to-end solution portfolio be it consulting services to new or established schools, teacher training, parenting counselling and workshops, student engagement, curriculum design and school audits. This takes care of its Education vertical. With sports, the company offers in school multi sports curriculum, after school hours training academies and a specialised sports division with a school for those who wish to pursue sports and not want to compromise on their academics.
Talking about her new venture, Fatema said, “ACE provides every child an opportunity to nurture their own individuality and be it subjects or sports, learn at their pace and as per they desire. This customisation is special and unique, and the company remains very invested in this.”
The Success Mantra
“An entrepreneur needs to adjust quickly and efficiently to the challenges of running a business, must work with realistic short- & long-term goals and be prepared to work smartly,” she offers.
On being asked about the traits of a successful entrepreneur, Fatema said, “Patience and some realistic milestone setting will enable returns to happen seamlessly. Entrepreneurs need to consult many stakeholders, have a thorough understanding of the business and competition, work on an agile project report and have clear understanding of the finances. For me personally, while passion drives the hardwork, that needs to eventually materialise. There is no point having a brilliant idea if that will never be monetised!”
Life is not a bed of roses, as most entrepreneurs will admit, and about what keeps her motivated and managing set-backs, she says “I have been pretty consistent with my writing – penning down starts, progress and important decisions, and these papers also document some ups and downs, and I always make it a point to write down in detail – what helped me overcome the darker moments – could be consulting with an expert, a friend, a business associate, research …. This may just be personal, but I tend to back myself if I have all the facts in place and thorough research, for I believe the “gut” instinct has worked for me so far. And I like to back it.
We at Kenfolios, highly appreciate the efforts that she is putting in every day to shape a better future for the nation.