Deepa Dagaonkar: Mentoring Young India For A Brighter Tomorrow
Director & Senior Trainer
Career Mentors play a crucial role today in guiding students towards a promising career. With continuously increasing competition, there is a vital need for job seekers to stand out from the hoi polloi of candidates applying for the same role. Having an overall impressive personality with academic, social, and communication skills all perfected is an essential component. While in India students perfect the academic requirements, their lack of proper communication and social skills often leave them in an unfavorable position. Fostering the Future, the brainchild of Deepa Dagaonkar, aims to bridge this gap, shaping the Indian youth into well-rounded individuals who excel in every sphere. Here are some highlights from our interaction with Deepa, let’s read.
What are some important facets of your life and professional journey that you wish to highlight through the article? What led you to establish Fostering the Future.
Prior to establishing Fostering the Future, I have worked in various industries across the public, private, and government sectors after having completed my postgraduate degree. I have over 25 years of professional experience. During my professional journey, I attended several seminars and industrial meets, during which I realized that there is a big gap between what the industries are looking for in job seekers and what kind of talent pool is available. While students fared very highly in the academic and technical knowledge spheres, they lacked immensely in social skills and communication skills, which impacted their overall personality and impression before employers. This is what motivated me to establish an organization which can help students between the ages of 3.5 years up to college graduates seeking jobs to develop these skills and become more appealing to employers.
Tell us about the various arenas of skill development the company specializes in.
Fostering the Future is a finishing school focusing on social skills, communication skills, as well as academic skills. We help students strengthen their Empathy, Wisdom, and Courage under social skills; and focus strongly on helping them develop a strong vocabulary and spelling skills to help improve communication and language skills. In today’s globalizing world, being fluent in English and having a strong vocabulary beyond the basic words is vital. We also focus on general knowledge which often gets overlooked in the school paradigm. We conduct and participate in Spell Bee Competitions on an international scale, offering our students a platform to compete against foreign students, further motivating them to enhance their skills. Vocabulary building, pronunciations, and spelling fluency are vital offerings of our online platform. What sets us apart from any other spelling bee is that we provide training for spelling formation for each category at school itself. We select and train them, that will help to learn the vocabulary with meaning. We also teach them the words, which will help them for IELTS exam or any other international English language exam.
“Fostering the future is a finishing school focusing on social skills, communication skills, as well as academic skills”
In your opinion what are some of the key challenging aspects of being in the skill development industry in India? What steps do you undertake to overcome these roadblocks?
Since we cater to children as young as 3.5 years old, one of the most significant challenges we face is their short attention span or lack of interest in learning. When we face this issue, we teach their mother who can then pass on the knowledge to the child when they are more interested in learning, and more responsive to what is being taught. Another challenge comes from the older students. For example, students who have been educated in hindi-medium schools, or who are not well versed with English and do not have a family background in proper English education, it becomes very difficult for them to learn the language because they have no supporting environment.
What is your role in the company and how has it impacted the growth of Fostering the Future so far?
As the founder of Fostering the Future, I play many roles. I am the primary researcher and academician in the organization. Beyond my administrative duties, I also supervise the teaching vertical. While I have hired teachers for carrying out classes, they often get challenged with questions which they are unable to answer. Students come up with queries which the teachers are unable to resolve. This is where I step in and clarify any doubts. I train the teachers as well, and help them improve their skills so that they can fully take over classes without needing my help.
How do you foresee the skill development landscape evolving in India going forward? What steps do you intend to take to align Fostering the Future with these evolving trends?
The skill development scenario for Indian students is challenging, and I have ambitious goals to assist them attain the same level of fluency as students from English-speaking countries. I am often struck by how restricted Indian students' English vocabulary is. One of the main things we work on is helping students build a solid vocabulary for both informal and formal communication. Furthermore, I want to provide students with worldwide exposure, which is why we compete in worldwide Spell Bee Competitions. Our kids have previously competed in Nigerian and Chinese spelling bees, and we want to register children in American spelling bees in the future years. Another goal for the near future is to focus on the concept of social skills, helping students develop basic skills for healthy human interaction. One of my biggest goals is to invite Shashi Tharoor on a talk show to inspire our students, and maybe even organize a Spell Bee competition between him and mystudents. Shashi Tharoor is an Indian former international civil servant, diplomat, bureaucrat, politician, writer and public intellectual who has been serving as Member of Parliament for Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala.. I think that will be quite interesting.
Deepa Dagaonkar, Director & Senior Trainer, Fostering The Future
Deepa brings over 25 years of professional experience which has given her a broad perspective of the needs of employers versus the skills of the talent pool. Leveraging this knowledge, she is working towards the holistic development of students which often gets overlooked in educational institutions.