Madhu Agrawal

Interview: Madhu Agrawal, co-founder, Clever Harvey

August 1, 2022

Mumbai-based Clever Harvey (estb.2020), the business-to-customer (B-2-C) arm of Callido Learning Pvt. Ltd. (2015) offers 10 specialisation programmes designed for teenagers to explore different career options in fields like advertising, technology and entrepreneurship etc. Madhu Agrawal, chief operations officer (COO) and one half of the co-founders (Sriram Subramanian being the other), says creativity, confidence and business acumen are the by-products of these short-term, online courses. Speaking to Dipta Joshi of EducationWorld, Agrawal explains what it takes to design a curriculum suitable for Clever Harvey’s 13 to 18 year old customers.

Q) How do Clever Harvey’s courses help children?

A) Schools teach students in segregated silos-maths, geography, chemistry etc. However, the real world operates in terms of people, technology and money. This leaves students, especially in arts and commerce streams, very confused about what they would like to pursue as they grow up. We bridge this big gap between academics and the real world by providing fun, project-based learning about career choices while helping students build a portfolio of their own original projects. Our JuniorMBA courses help students test drive different careers through first-hand industry exposure as students learn core concepts of a field from industry experts and apply it to innovative projects.

The courses are just 15 hours long and delivered online to smaller groups of 10. Students are then paired in groups of two or three to create projects. The top projects are reviewed by industry specialists.  

Q) What was the driving force behind launching Clever Harvey?

A) Both Sriram and I found careers we are passionate about after age 25. I earned a degree in Law and Business Studies from Warwick University, 2011 and worked as a qualified solicitor in commercial law at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, London for eight years before getting into the educational field. Sriram had a similar experience. A Bachelors in Arts from Brown University and Masters in Engineering from Imperial College London, he tried three different career trajectories (Politics, Transport Modelling and Consulting) before settling in the educational field.

Had we known our goals at a younger age, we could have worked more effectively towards those goals to begin with. Reflecting on our own journey made us realize that there is a dire need for teens to be able to make informed career decisions – based on a first-hand test drive rather than just aptitude tests or what their friends are doing.

Q) What aspects do you focus on while designing courses like data analytics, UX Design etc. for ages 13-18?

A) Our focus is to bridge the gap between academics and the real world so at the end of the course, we want the students to be sure about three things. One, they have to learn about the field and ask themselves, “Do I enjoy the field?” Second, they have to understand, are they good at the work required in the field? They find out because the Junior MBA course requires them to create original projects. Third, they should be able to showcase their work through their ready portfolio.

Q) What is behind the ‘MBA’ tag attached to all the courses?

A) Our research revealed most commerce graduates choose to pursue an MBA in order to get clarity on what they’d like to pursue further. This set the ball rolling for launching ‘MBA’ programs for juniors to help get clarity about their careers faster, saving precious years. The first program – the JuniorMBA Entrepreneurship was introduced in April 2020 followed by other specialisations in advertising, digital marketing, entrepreneurship, finance, consulting, UX design, data analytics, branding and design etc.

We also have a ‘Future CEO’ program- an amalgamation of all our programs that does not have the ‘MBA’ attached.

Q) 15,000 plus students have signed up over the past two years. What helped garner these numbers?

A) Two things: we offer parents a complete package that assuages their anxiety about their child’s future. Students typically need to get their aptitude tests done; visit counselors and join an internship to know their interests. All of this can be very time consuming. Instead, joining our short course allows them to check their aptitude, gauge personal understanding of the field and build a portfolio to showcase that understanding.

Secondly, with no theory or jargon, our courses are a refreshing break from the theoretical world of Maths, Geography etc. Students enjoy making new friends as they work together to build their projects. Our programs have a 98 percent completion rate.

Q) Do you partner with schools too?

A) Callido Learning has been providing critical thinking curriculum to schools since 2015 and we have continued to build our partnerships even with Clever Harvey. We have partnered with 150 schools till date. Many schools like The Indian Public School, Rustomjie School Jalgaon and Bunda Mulia School have integrated our courses with their curriculum to equip students with fundamental skills like entrepreneurship etc. We also offer scholarships to students joining our courses through schools that collaborate with us.  

We also have partnerships with 15 progressive universities like Amity University, Flame University, O.P Jindal Global University and Krea University etc. who want well-rounded student profiles. From weightage to scholarships, these universities have agreed to provide students with preference in the admissions process.

Q) What about the future excites you?

A) We launched our JuniorMBA Finance program, a financial literacy course on July 18 in collaboration with financial investing platform, Groww. The course focuses on money management concepts like time value of money; compounding and helps students build their own investment strategies etc.  We also have a hospitality program where we are collaborating with the Taj Group of Hotels. We are also in talks with many other industry A-listers currently.

We also want to expand the number of careers we cover to 25 and service one lakh students by the end of the current financial year.

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