University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa alumna Vasanthi Ranganathan (MEd ’89) was initially drawn to the College of Education because of her interest in counseling and guidance. Since graduating, she has established her own management consulting organization that offers training and development opportunities to clients, developed numerous programs that address employability and entrepreneurship in India, and more.
We asked Vasanthi a few questions to learn more about what drew her to UH and what her work entails.
What drew you to the UH Mānoa College of Education?
In India I completed my degrees in English. I could not have studied counselling and guidance in India. The College of Education gave me admission and helped me complete a few remedial programs. A strong foundation was laid in the fall semester of 1987 for my career in education across India and a few other countries. Indians study and compete well, there are only three scholarships every year for graduate studies. Most scholarships given by the East West Center are for science, math and agriculture. I chose the counselling program at the College of Education and expressed a need for counselling in India. That helped me aspire for and get the award from East West Center. The exposure to students for pre-practicum, practicum and internships in primary, middle and high schools helped me transfer the learning to my home country.
Tell us about your career path starting from graduation up till now.
I earned my masters degree, spent time learning the art of counselling and returned to India in 1991. At the College of Education, I had great support from Dr. Oda who taught cross culture, and Dr. Nina Westcott, my guide.
I established Ms Flicker to Flare Consultants Pvt. Ltd., a management consulting organization, and offered training and development interventions throughout the country. I have worked with World Bank, Citibank, Madras Management Association, Coats Viyella, Titan watches, ISRO, and Confederation of Indian Industry. Working with a team that I established, we offered public seminars, in house training interventions, and recruiting strategies under many banners throughout the country for both private sectors and government offices. I will offer a first line Management program this January 2020 at Sivakasi down south for small industries.
I have worked extensively in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Gujarat. I launched trainings for making the connection between education and industry and I also launched many trainings in abacus, English, personality development and employability skills. These trainings develop and deliver programs on employability for colleges, and sessions in the first few weeks for graduate engineers and operators.
Exploring opportunities from early years at schools is necessary in order to make an informed career decision. Dignity of labor and discipline are taught early. Vocational schools have come up in more recent years. My office develops activity books on career choices. One of the titles is very apt for India: Birds Can Choose, So Can You. We also develop course material and coaching manuals.
I have partnered with Malaysian, Abdul Fatah, and introduced the first abacus program in India in 1998, creating a number of franchise opportunities in the smallest village and urban areas in the educational space. Today, many homemakers are self employed entrepreneurs. Indians who started with me have scaled it up to reach across to many countries including the USA, the UK, Germany, China, Malaysia and the Middle East.
In 2010, I established Lake View Training Center and offer consultancy for vocational training. The Center has a library of 20,000 books which are used for developing worksheets. Most recently, on August 25th, I did a session at Lake View called Living by Water Spaces – a cultural program for about 30 students of the APLP program from 17 countries.
Currently, I am looking for students from universities abroad to volunteer or do internships in India in schools, colleges and industries. I would love to come back and do doctoral work for two years maybe through a research assistantship.
What is your current job? What does your work entail?
My role as resource head at Lake View Learning and Development Center is highly creative. I connect consultants offering the latest innovations to industries and educational institutions for many learning initiatives. We have a team that can design curriculum for management modules and we design and deliver programs in career counselling, English, group counselling, and for death and dying issues. My Facebook page indicates the work we do in the volunteer space. It is again interesting that volunteer efforts are plenty in India but are not organized or documented.
I have held many offices of great distinction at the district level at my Rotary Club and serve as Technical Cadre for Basic Literacy for the Rotary Foundation, Rotary International Chicago. I have recommended processes for community participation in literacy programs in schools, and audited global grants. I will be attending the Rotary Centennial summit at Kolkata in February 2020.
In association with the Rotary Club, we offer many programs titled Enrich, Vidhai for teachers throughout the year. Vidhai on 25th January 2020 will offer sessions on Cyber Crime, adolescent issues, meditation, facilitative teaching methodologies, and positive mental attitude. I am the conference coordinator. I have also recruited visiting Fulbrighters and Americans to offer sessions in India. I train Americans on cross cultural issues when they come to Chennai at the request of USEIF.
I have launched many Rotarians as volunteers in programs called What Next. This program has been offered for a decade now and is being constantly updated by the practitioners in consultation. I am very active in the Chennai Chapter of EWC alumni association and as program coordinator I received the outstanding alumni award at Seoul on August 25th 2018 for my work with schools and communities. I have been a speaker in many conferences and Rotary Clubs.
What do you love the most about your work?
Working with people, learning through active involvement, accessing experiential learning and having great fun.