Mentoring the Intellects beyond Academics
A portrayal of all-round talent, a soul filled with immense passion to help people around her reach their full potential, and a proud champion for reform of education pedagogy and role of technology in it, Baishali Mukherji along with her team in Fundamentor has been silently playing her role in the revolutionary changes that the traditional education system is experiencing these days.
The team’s main area of focus has been “Life skills” or “21st century skills”. They felt that there was gap in the academic curriculum which emphasised content knowledge and less of skills required for success in adult life, like critical thinking, questioning, planning or researching.
Fundamentor is a pioneering web application that uses gamification to hone quantitative, verbal, data extrapolation, creative aptitude in school students. It uses tools like gamification that the students appreciate, ensuring effective aptitude development. Baishali’s dedication towards her unadulterated mission and vision of crafting the building blocks of the future has been truly remarkable.
A Lady for the Lead
A Microbiologist by education and having a business degree from the US, Baishali turned out to be a perfect blend of education with a symphony of sophisticated acquaintance and skills. However, her mind wandered constantly towards her passion that always had been in the art of studying humans and their psychological variances and adaptations to different situations. She has enormous experience in the learning and development of various educational and co-related aspects.
She often quotes her professional trail as a good specimen of how core skills like ingenious thinking, alliance, critical discerning are as important as technical knowledge to keep pace with the fluctuations in today’s markets. She has had three career breaks, and occasionally it was a tough challenge to find a work-life balance, particular that her husband had a demanding career and was often travelling. Like a lot of people who take a break, Baishali too dabbled in alternate career paths. At one point completing level 1 in CFA and at another point getting herself up skilled in digital marketing through courses offered on MOOC, she paved way for herself to be an allrounder. With each experience, she developed a holistic perspective of the different aspects of business and the skills that are required in different roles. She also transformed into a woman with concrete aims to bring about changes in the ongoing system through her inputs.
When asked to tell us the most beneficial hack for a product start-up like theirs, she says that it is essential to not reinvent the wheel of knowledge and innovation. Someone might have done what one aims to do. Instead, looking into the fact if we can collaborate or add value to it in some way, for instance, in the way the material is accessed by people who don’t have enough bandwidth can work wonders and give out fantastic results. Also, letting others help us develop the concept, restructure the area of development and give out positive outputs. She explains that her motto is often working in collaboration with individuals of immense talents to make your prototypes work.
The Major Breakthrough in the Fundamentor Form
Baishali had been an important part of a start-up team that created a Learning and Content Management tool back in the early 2000s when it was just a buzz word. During her MBA, she undertook consulting projects in the US, France, and India, but her craving brought her back to the L&D field when she joined her Fundamentor companions, Bhargavi Rishbud and Amol Patkar, to establish the company. She is herself an MBA from the University of Richmond, all of her co-founders in Fundamentor are MBAs from IIM-Kolkata and FMS. They have known each other for more than 20 years and are driven by a shared passion for education and have a complementary skill-sets. This made their mission more wonderful and their milestones achievable.
Baishali and her team started Fundamentor to help children hone what is called the 21st-century skills early on in life through daily practice. But their extreme dedication to their vision has grown to encompass all human engagements, be it education, customer experience or employee skill development. The Fundamentors consider themselves as education reformers who believe passionately in the role of future tech solutions to take the human engagements to the next level by making it immersive, contextual and engaging.
Baishali follows a design-thinking approach to development; this helps her and the team create quick low fidelity prototypes that in turn provide them with the learning to gradually increase the fidelity of the solution.
A key aspect of her work is to stay abreast of the latest developments, not only in her own field but in general too. She and her squad make sure that they go out and speak to the people to understand their unique challenges at work and interact with the entrepreneurs who are working on innovative ideas.
Baishali lays down a vote of thanks to her 14-year old, she gets a good lowdown of developments on games, IoT and other technologies as it is essential for her organization since they need to keep their minds open to anything that engrosses the masses. That is how Baishali, with her hard-core co-mates, has developed an expertise in gamification and have recently ventured into virtual and mixed reality. They are already working with schools and colleges and engineering firms to bring these technologies to mainstream education and L&D.
A Fruitful and a Deserved Victory
The team takes pride in that Fundamentor has made it in the list of “Top companies in education gamification” consistently for the last 4 years in their annual report on Global Education Gamification market by Technavio, UK. These and the encouragement from educators and students keep them looking for ways to improve their product.
The Mastermind “Naari”
Baishali is of a clear view of not be attached to just your idea, but being open to changes. She and her team have gone through a lot of changes, right from the ideation phase, in terms of what they believed the children needed, what would be the best way of delivering it, etc. to even how they were reaching out to the kids. She advises to adapt to the changing educational scenarios and act accordingly.