It Started With Coffee and Doughnuts

You never know where the idea of a new business will occur.  During the past 25 years, I have been involved in establishing three businesses, and the common thread seems to be associated with food. One began during an elaborate dinner in a very upscale restaurant, the second happened in an Irish pub over a burger and a Guinness, and the third happened at a doughnut shop in a mall. The doughnut shop is where the idea of Edu Alliance was born.

In March 2014, at a Tim Horton’s in an Abu Dhabi mall, Senthil Nathan who was the person who recommended my hiring at Higher Colleges of Technology in 2008 (where I worked until the Middle of 2010) and I had a “catch up” meeting.

We both had news to tell the other. I told Senthil that I had decided not to renew my contract with Khalifa University at the end of September and Senthil listened to my news and told me he was planning to leave Higher Colleges of Technology after twenty-one years. Neither of us was ready to retire, but we both wanted to do something different that would challenge our skills and continue to be a positive force in higher education. In that meeting over coffee and doughnuts (well I might have been eating the doughnuts) we discussed continuing to work for a higher education institution in the UAE or India or the United States. Our initial meeting at Tim Horton’s evolved into a serious discussion about the feasibility of starting a higher education consultancy firm, and we always met at doughnut or coffee shops.

Over the next few months and a great deal of soul searching we felt it was worth the risk in founding an educational consulting firm based in Abu Dhabi and give we would give it two years to succeed, and if it didn’t make it, we would feel we had given it our best efforts and move onto re-joining a college or university. We understood the odds of a small, boutique consulting firm was a very high-level risk, but we felt colleges and university leaders in the UAE personally knew us and would at least meet with us to introduce our new firm.

5 years v2
Dean Hoke, Nancy K. Hoke, Jesse Nathan, and Senthil Nathan

We publicly announced to our network in June 2014 our intention to start Edu Alliance. We stated that Edu Alliance’s mission would be “to help develop national capacity in the areas of education, training, and human development in the Middle East (GCC) and North Africa (MENA) region by creating effective and sustainable alliances between organizations in the region with the best-in-class international organizations and experts.” Our focus will be helping clients achieve success in:

  • Higher education strategic partnerships
  • Mentoring
  • Marketing
  • Executive, faculty and staff recruitment
  • Institution-wide strategy
  • Technology

We held our first introductory meetings with presidents of three universities in the UAE in October and early November to introduce Edu Alliance.  We were pleased, and a bit surprised that President Dr. Bruce Taylor of Emirates College of Technology (ECT) located in Abu Dhabi requested we submit a project proposal during the meeting. Within a few days, we submitted a proposal which was accepted, and a formal contract awarded. Edu Alliance was commissioned by ECT to help develop an in-house capacity for market research. The project commenced in mid-November and completed in early December.

The objective was accomplished through two customized, evidence-driven, and locally relevant workshops in close coordination with the university’s institutional research division. We helped to create relevant templates and processes for new program proposals based on market research.

ect signing shot
Dr. Bruce Taylor and Dean Hoke at ECT Contract signing

Our second client was KPMG in the GCC. Edu Alliance was selected as a Subject Matter Expert (SME) – in work related to universities, colleges, and schools. KPMG is one of the largest professional services companies in the world (one of the Big Four consulting / audit firms), which has offices in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Contracting our firm to support their work in the education sector was a major milestone for us. In November, we provided for KPMG advisory service / organizational review for a major chain of K-12 schools and in December, an internal audit and academic review of a leading UAE research university.

On October 2nd Edu Alliance Ltd. founded in Abu Dhabi (Masdar City) will enter its sixth year of existence. Since October 2014 we have provided services for over thirty clients in seven countries and in 2016 started a second location in Bloomington, Indiana. We have established two Advisory Councils, one in the MENA region and one in the United States. As we continue to develop Dr. Chet Haskell and Tom Davisson both highly respected senior higher education professionals have joined us as partners for our United States firm.

We look back after five years of service, and we believe that Edu Alliance stayed true to its mission and successfully provided our clients with quality service at a reasonable price.

On behalf of Edu Alliance thank you for your support and belief in us.

———-END—————-

Edu Alliance logo squareAbout  Edu AllianceEdu Alliance is a unique boutique educational management consulting company – with offices in the United Arab Emirates and the United States of America. We focus on the education sector providing support to educational institutions, government agencies, and investors. Our firm and its team of advisors have served as senior education organization officers and are experienced practitioners. We take a pragmatic, evidence-based approach rather than an abstract theoretical perspective. Edu Alliance principals have a proven track record and strong networks around the world to meet this major challenge.

We welcome you contact us on how we can be of service to your organization. Feel free to write or call any of us.

 

Contacts:

United Arab Emirates +971 50 613 0671

Dr. Senthil Nathan

United States 1 502 257 1063

Dean Hoke

Dr. Chet Haskell

Tom Davisson

Nancy Hoke

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s