John Hoffmire: Let me quote something I read about you online, “In 2005 Shabd Mishra quit his job as Head of International Sales for a leading US information publisher to start Renaissance eServices in 2005. The business, located in the UK, spans over 52 countries and caters to nearly 2 million students globally. Since 2005, the firm has developed over 48,000 eLearning modules.” That’s quite impressive.

In addition, you are the founder of Meducination, an online learning platform for medical courses and as well as Psychology World, a similar platform but in the field of mental health.

The question I want to ask you is what drew you to the online learning industry. How did you go from engineer, to international sales, to then creating such broad and successful online learning platforms?

Shabd Mishra: During a critical period that coincided with the growth of the internet and telecommunications and India’s economic liberalization, I saw entrepreneurship as a way to attain financial, aspirational and creative independence. I discovered my vocation in the nascent sector of EdTech after realising the transformative power of education in addressing societal problems. Following the guiding principles of ethics, value for money, and quality, I delved into the blue ocean of e-learning while navigating my organisation from the crowded landscape of call-centres and back-offices then prevalent in India. Although our 2008 entry into the Indian market with “eCollege of India” encountered financial difficulties, a strategic gap analysis resulted in the development of cross-border learning portals like “Psychology World ®” and “Meducination,” which have an influence on more than 5 million students across 82+ nations. My desire to use my company’s capabilities to give fair access to physical and mental healthcare is what motivated me to make such a commitment. The goal was to tackle these problems using all-encompassing approaches that put communities’ and individuals’ physical and mental health first.

John: If you will, please tell me more about Meducination and Psychology World.

Shabd: Meducination is an initiative of Renaissance eService and it offers self-paced, affordable, and certified online medical courses from some of the best global online medical course providers. We are a global partnership whose purpose is to bring award winning online medical content and courses to medical students, interns, radiologists, paramedics, surgeons, doctors, nurses, as well as hospital management and other public healthcare workers.

Why? Because in the rapidly-evolving field of medicine, it is essential for healthcare professionals to stay up-to-date with the latest research and developments. So, we partnered with some of the world’s leading medical course providers to create the largest medical eLearning initiative that provide ongoing, affordable, and on-demand access to educational resources, allowing healthcare professionals to continue learning and relicensing throughout their careers.

Psychology World® is similar to Meducination only it addresses education and training for students and professionals in the field of mental health. Psychology World® is an open UK accredited provider of online psychology training dedicated to the science of mind and it offers beginner level online certificate courses in psychology and applied psychology. We currently have students from over 50 countries. We also plan to have an online magazine that addresses current issues in the field of psychology and mental health and provides unlimited access to over 2000 psychology theories, approaches, studies, experiments and guides. Both enterprises are all about open, affordable, and accessible learning.

John: If I remember right, your entrepreneurship extends beyond business and online learning. Besides building online learning enterprises, where else do you focus your energy?

Shabd: As you know, my family and I make our home in Agra, Uttar Pradesh, which is known for some of India’s beloved heritage sites. For about 10 years now I’ve been involved with SPHEEHA, an Indian NGO with a mission to engage society in the preservation of our environment, ecology, and heritage. Through a systems approach, SPHEEHA works to raise eco-consciousness about a sustainable way of life, and to raise awareness about the importance of our tangible and intangible heritage assets. We endeavor to do all we can to preserve and protect our environment, resources and heritage for future generations.

I’m also involved with Ek Pahel, an Indian NGO with a mission to empower underprivileged children, youth and women through relevant education, innovative healthcare and market-focused livelihood programmes. This NGO was amongst the first in India to have designed a low cost, affordable online education mechanism to ensure that students could continue education without hinderance during the COVID19 pandemic.

John: It’s no wonder you were accepted as a Chevening Gurukul Fellowship for Leadership and Excellence at the University of Oxford. With all that you have achieved, I’m curious about why you applied for the fellowship and about your experience with the programme in Oxford.

Shabd: Chevening is indubitably a great platform to learn, exchange experiences and make connections with dedicated and ambitious individuals who believe in a better world. I believe the fellows and alumni help provide a bigger platform and increase the circle of influence for bigger and better causes for not just India but globally. I applied to the Chevening Gurukul Fellowship with the hope and expectation that I can contribute more in building a better India and the world at large; learning and emulating from the eminent professors at Oxford, past Chevening Gurukul fellows and my cohort members.

I believe being a Chevening Gurukul fellow allows me to be a legitimate ambassador of the knowledge solutions from UK that I offer as a businessman; but also help contribute in skilling, educating and transforming the future workforce in India in a unique manner. My experiences at Oxford helped gain insight into issues faced by leaders in all fields and explored changing ideas and practices of leadership, looking at the implications of globalisation for Indian leaders as well as cross functional insights from my fellow cohort members.

John: It has been fascinating talking with you and learning about the many enterprises you have created and the scale of the work you are doing to make life better globally. I wish you continued success in all that you are doing.

Shabd: Thank you, John, for giving me the platform to highlight my work and passions. The pleasure has been mine.

Shabd Mishra is a Managing Director for Renaissance eServices Ltd, founder of Meducination and Psychology World, and a Chevening Gurukul Fellow, Oxford University, 2019.

John Hoffmire is a Research Associate at the Oxford Centre for Mutual and Co-owned Business.