Lodestar: Redefining career counseling in the 21st century

June 27, 2019

The sea change in the global jobs marketplace and new careers explosion has not been complemented by parental, student and institutional awareness. The overwhelming majority of schools in India lack professional career counseling departments and parents lack know-how and awareness of the importance of helping children make aptitudinally-appropriate career decisions.

Bandana Brahmin

Promoted in 2015 by a team of successful entrepreneurs (MeritTrac) and education industry professionals (Manipal Education), Lodestar is setting new benchmarks in India’s nascent career counseling industry by providing well-researched scientific career guidance to students. The top management/advisory team led by Anand Sudarshan, former MD and CEO of Manipal Education and founder director of Sylvant Advisors, Murlidhar Suryanarayan,  former co-founder and CEO of MeritTrac and Madan Padaki, CEO and MD of Head Held High Services, conceptualised Lodestar as a “scientific career guidance programme” to help secondary school students (class VIII onwards) make “smart career and education decisions through scientific tests, advanced algorithms and authentic researched data”.

In the post-liberalisation era and in particular after the advent of the Google age in the new millennium, a slew of new vocations and career options have become available to school and college leavers. The traditional choices of medicine, law, engineering, armed forces, and the civil services have been overtaken by a range of exciting new fast-track careers such as events management, social media management, biotech, clinical research, data science and artificial intelligence, among several others, even as traditional careers have experienced radical makeovers. However this sea change in the global jobs marketplace and new careers explosion has not been complemented by parental, student and institutional awareness. The overwhelming majority of schools in India lack professional career counseling departments and parents lack know-how and awareness of the importance of helping children make aptitudinally-appropriate career decisions. 

Lodestar Murlidhar Suryanarayan

               Murlidhar Suryanarayan

Murlidhar Suryanarayan, a mechanical engineering graduate of NITK Surathkal and MBA postgrad of IIM Lucknow, realised this career counseling lacuna in the Indian K-12 education system was ruining the careers and personal lives of scores of students who made aptitudinally-inappropriate career choices. Therefore in 2015, after extensive market research, he conceptualised and launched Lodestar. Currently the Bangalore-based company has over 150 employees including 100 professionally trained career counselors in five cities countrywide.

“Higher education choices and career decisions can make or break a person’s life. And particularly with the explosion in new careers today, the process of choosing a career has become increasingly complex with students and parents lacking credible information and guidance on the pathways to career success. Lodestar has been designed as a scientific career guidance programme delivered by well-trained counselors who help students chalk out their career pathways by evaluating their strengths through aptitude testing, algorithm enabled career-competency match and most importantly personalised one-on-one counseling,” says Murlidhar, former co-founder and CEO of MeritTrac — India’s largest skills assessment company with over two decades’ experience in skills assessment, examinations operations and technology, career guidance, entrepreneurship and business management. A charter member of TiE (The Indus Entrepreneurs), Murlidhar’s entrepreneurial journey has been featured in The Fresh Brew: Chronicles of Business and Freedom (February 2011) authored by IIM Lucknow students Amit Haralalka and Amitabh Thakur.

Future Career Leaders Program


Lodestar’s flagship career guidance offering for class VIII-X students — the Future Career Leaders Program – is a multi-activity programme that enables secondary students to make well-informed career choices through the Inspire, Inform and Initiate pathway.         

Distinguishing features of the three-year Future Career Leaders Program include:

a) 25-plus activities including career quizzes, workshops, mentor talks, industry visits, among others, spread over 20 sessions.

b) One-to-one multi-session career guidance and counseling by professional counselors.

c) Involvement of parents in all one-on-one students sessions.

d) Menu of over 250 careers complemented with meticulous planning of their education pathways.

e) Advanced artificial intelligence-driven online platform offering customized career and higher education suggestions.

Impressive clients list


Over the past four years, Lodestar has signed up some of India’s top-ranked schools as clients. Among them, the GEAR Innovative International School, EKYA Schools, CMR NPS, Nitte International School, KLE Society Schools, Samhita Academy, Euro International, Silicon City, Achievers Academy, all in Bangalore; Phoenix International, Hyderabad; Chettinad Harishree Vidyashram, Chennai; Sadhbhavana World School, Calicut.

Moreover, students from over 150 leading schools have enrolled into Lodestar’s retail one-to-one career guidance programme including the Mallya Aditi International School, The International School Bangalore (TISB), Indus International, Sarala Birla Academy, Vidyaniketan School, Bishop Cotton, DPS Bangalore South, National Public School, Greenwood High International School, among others in Bangalore; Chirec International, DRS International, DPS Nacharam and Meridian School in Hyderabad; Chettinad Vidyashram, Chennai.

“Over the past four years, Lodestar has helped over 40,000 students from 200 schools and colleges countrywide to make smart career decisions. Keeping with our goal of serving 1 million customers by 2022 though advanced career guidance and counseling, we have made ambitious expansion plans. We also plan to introduce a slew of innovative features such as career internships to give students experience of real working environment and AR/VR videos to enhance understanding of careers and 21st century workplace environments,” says Murlidhar. 

Parents voices

“I was impressed by the range of career options that my son was exposed to during the Lodestar career guidance programme. Infact, I had never heard of careers like toxicologist or material scientist earlier. Lodestar has undeniably helped us decide on the right career path for my son and also helped him embark on the right education path to achieve it.” — Shantanu Bose, CEO Enable IT, father of Sayan Bose – student of class X of Deens Academy, Whitefield, Bangalore.

“With career options having exploded in the new millennium, my son was confused about which career and higher education programme to pursue. Lodestar’s comprehensive data on career options helped my son zero in on the right career path for him.” — Nilesh Joshi, interior designer, father of Atharva Joshi – student of class X of New Horizon Public School, Bangalore.

“Although my daughter was sure she wanted to pursue a career beyond science and engineering, she was not clear as to which arts discipline to pursue. Thanks to Lodestar, she was able to discover a world of careers in the humanities.” — Ajith Kumar, LIC officer, father of Sanjitha – student of class X of JSS Public School, Bangalore.

Students comments

“I was unsure about which career to pursue after my graduation. However, after completing the Lodestar programme, I have been able to chalk out a complete careers pathway – including which entrance exams to target, which colleges to apply, etc.” — Puneeth, a second year B.Com student of St. Joseph College of Commerce.

“I used to think that all professions are more or less the same and I just need to choose one of them. After completing the Lodestar career guidance programme, I realised the nuances of professional career planning.” — Aakash, student of Vikaasa School, Madurai.


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