Priya Krishnan: Ideator& Momprenuer in Chief – Klay Prep Schools & Daycare
In the Indian society, women have historically been perceived as home-makers with little to do with the economy, commerce or a corporate career of their own. But this picture is fast changing. In modern India, more and more women are taking up entrepreneurialinitiatives, especially in early childcare and education domain.These women are playing a pivotal role in laying the foundation for early child education and also enabling mothers to rejoin the workforce. They are not only highly-educated, talented, confident, ambitious and career oriented but are also as driven and astute as any of their male counterparts. This helps them don multiple hats at home and at work as a mother, wife, daughter-in-law as well as a business leader.Priya Krishnan, Founder & CEO of KLAY Prep Schools and Daycare and TheLittle Company, is one such inspiring story in Indian education system, and whose growth is testament to the fact that women in any organization can risesimply by virtue of their merit & professional drive and notthrough special privileges handed out by virtue of their gender. Priya founded and has since been heading the team, under the aegis of Founding Years Learning Solutionssince 2011 and has seen the organization grow to becomeIndia’s largest Corporate Daycare service provider offering a range of maternity and childcare solutions to employers and parents across the country.
Priya Krishnan holds a dual MBA, one from the London Business School and another from NMIMS Mumbai. She is also a certified CFA and started her career with Anderson Consulting. Prior to founding KLAY schools, Priya held leadership positions across Singapore, New York, and London with Mphasis and Bangalore Labs.
While completing her second MBA, the urbanization in India and the growing incidence of dual income families in metros struck Priyaas an opportunity to provide high quality childcare services in Tier 1 cities across the country. Being passionate about the concept of “women at work”, she thought of this model as a great way to provide both employment and support women returning to work. With KLAY, being able to help mothers get back to work and contribute more to their households is seen the biggest form of gratification.
AbhishekDubey, our Editor Associate, in a ‘brief chat’ with Priya Krishnan
Abhishek: What are your organization’s ideals?
Priya: We believe that no mother should ever feel guilty about going back to work under the feeling of her child getting sub-optimal care or education. With that basic idea, we try and ensure that all children not only get the best care in our facilities, but also gain crucial age-appropriate learning through our holistic curriculum.
Abhishek: How many hours a day you work on an average?
Priya: As an entrepreneur, the work antennas are up 24×7. However, on a usual work day, office hours range between 9-10 hours a day.
Abhishek: What is the best decision you’ve ever made?
Priya: To take the leap of faith and start KLAY while being a mother of two.
Abhishek: What stimulated your ideas to start a new business venture or to bring significant changes in an existing business/at work place?
Priya: While in London completing my MBA, I was already a mother and realized how crucial early childcare support systems can be for a woman to address her career & home in a balanced manner. This, coupled with a desire to go back to India, inspired me to setup KLAY and provide a premium childcare support network similar to what I experienced as a mother in London.
Abhishek: What effective strategies you have implemented/initiatives you have taken to achieve success?
Priya: While starting off with our first center at Whitefield Bangalore, our focus was first to build a community connect and to provide parents, especially those returning from abroad & the expat community, the high quality child care system that although prevalent in the west, was largely missing in India. During these initial stages, we however quickly realized that our audience was not just the expats/parents returning to India but also in large measure, the local communities seeking a premium childcare service of world class standards.
Abhishek: How do you define success? What is your take on the ways to achieve long term success?
Priya: Success has to be measured both in the form of financial stability as well as community impact. To achieve long-term success, more than anything else, one needs to get the right team in place to support your mission and its growth. This team needs to comprise of people who firstly share your passion for impact and what your product/service stands for, and equally importantly is also their understanding of the demands of running a business in a financial prudent manner.
Abhishek: Please tell us about your future plans.
Priya: We aim to increase the number of centers to 200 in the coming years,entering new cities and also expanding our footprint in Dubai and Singapore in the near future.
Abhishek: Whom do you attribute your success to?
Priya: I will attribute this success to my family. Without the support of my husband, who is also an entrepreneur and both our parents, my own professional journey would not be the same.
Abhishek: Do you think your personal life is affected by your professional life? How?
Priya: Both I& my husband take pride in following our respective passions and being able to balance that with parenthood. I do not believe that one should differentiate between personal and professional life given that one spends majority of their time each day on work commitments. The important thing is to find work-around through the daily set of surprises that may come up at home or at work and to not shy away from asking your family / network for help when needed.
Abhishek: What do you think is the biggest challenge to female leadership?
Priya: Biggest challenge to women leadership is the mental mindset of most women in our country themselves. More than men, unfortunately many women believe that marriage or motherhood is the end of their careers and that attitude is what needs to be changed in our society
Abhishek: Thanks for your time with The CEO Magazine!