Friday, May 31, 2024

Firoz Thairinil


If there is something you believe in, then go for it. Life is too short to sit and wait around for the right time – Firoz Thairinil

Westford Education Group was started in 2009 with a vision to provide accessible  and high quality education across the globe. In the Higher Education segment, Westford has four prominent brands – Westford University College, Exeed College, Eaton Business School, and Westford Institute of Film Technology.

The four brands serve the needs of working professionals and adult learners by offering accredited and globally recognized academic qualifications. While these brands develop around on-site and synchronous online/part-time learning models, Westford’s latest venture Athena Global Education offers asynchronous course delivery, further improving the learning experience for executives.

Another recent initiative taken under Exeed College is to provide access to education on a global scale through EGX (Exeed Global Varsity) with access to reputed university programs through satellite centers operating in different parts of the world. Besides executive education, Westford Group has also forayed into Sports training and management services with Westford Sports Management (2018) and into Film Technology with Westford Institute of Film Technology. The people who played a key role in Westford’s development are Samras Mayimi, Hanil Das, Mashrook Ali, Col. Anil Ahluwalia, and Dr. William Painter.


Firoz Thairinil, Founder-CEO, Westford Education Group, started his career in Banking in 1995 as a clerical grade officer and rose to be the Country Head-Retail Banking sector. In the 15 years of the Banking Industry, he worked with reputed institutions like Standard Chartered Bank, Emirates International Bank (ENBD), and National Bank of Umm Al Quwain (NBQ). He started Westford Education Group in 2009 with the passion to make education accessible to all who wish to learn, upskill and upgrade themselves.


Firoz always wanted to be an entrepreneur. His first attempt to be an entrepreneur was at 20, and he failed miserably. He attempted twice again before moving on to employment at the age of 24. He never abandoned his dream of becoming an entrepreneur, so he kept trying and encountered another four setbacks in business. Finally, at the age of 40, he realized the dream with Westford Education Group. Today, to be successful, he ensures that if a certain model works for the business, he replicates the same formula across other initiatives with certain improvisations. This process helps in the growth and diversification of the businesses.

Firoz further added, “When I left my glorious career as a Country Head at a reputed national bank and joined a struggling startup to pursue my dream of becoming an entrepreneur, that I would say was the defining moment of my career.”


The Education Industry has changed dramatically in the past few years. The challenge faced by the industry due to the current global crisis, pushed it ahead by ten years. The industry had demonstrated high reluctance to accept technological developments but it had to change its operational model to adjust to the new reality.

The overall business phenomenon has changed drastically with the digital and internet revolution. That enhanced the capabilities of businesses to go global multifold. Think of groceries being delivered to a village in India by a company operating from Silicon Valley in the US. Now, we are moving into a new world order largely driven by Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Blockchain.  The Internet and digitization were able to disrupt a handful of industries, and the combination of AI and Blockchain will disrupt almost every industry whether you like it or not. So, it is crucial at this point, to give your business idea a global perspective and ensure that its operational and business models are considering the latest technological advancements.


People. It is the people of any institution that define and shape the organization into what it is. The most important decision which Firoz took as a leader was to place the right people in the right position, support them, and trust them with their capabilities. As a leader, one can only set the vision and support your team in every possible way. The rest is up to the team, the people who take it up and carry it forward. So, the selection of the team is the most critical decision that a leader has to make.

For any leader, the first and foremost thing is to build trust with one’s team. Any leader must win over the trust of his/her team to be in a position to lead effectively. The team should be able to trust their leader, with themselves, with their capabilities and efforts. Only when a leader has won over the trust of the team, then only s/he can expect his/her vision to be imbibed by the team. Ultimately, it is the team that fulfills the vision of the leader.


The most important thing for the organization is the vision that ensures that education is accessible and affordable to anyone who wishes to go for it. The organization’s mission and milestones can change from time to time but the vision and core values always remain intact.

Firoz asserts, “As leaders, we ensure that our actions, day-to-day activities are always in line with our value system. We emphasize and reiterate the values from time to time and ensure that they are imbibed in our culture. It is important to put this in practice, which should start at the level of leadership.”


Autonomy, Trust, and Risk Appetite. This is how Firoz ensures that there is space for creative thinking in the organization. He ensures employees have enough freedom and autonomy to experiment and carry out their tasks. It is very important to ensure that your organization provides an environment where innovation, experiments, and most importantly, failures are encouraged and accepted.

Employees should not fear any repercussions if their initiative does not turn out to be what they had planned. Management should build enough trust and demonstrate that it is okay to fail at times. In an organization, the best ideas and insights come from the young generation. They are not yet conditioned by the conventionality of the processes and industry and carry a fresh perspective.

“I had left my career at its peak to pursue my ambition of being an entrepreneur. Leaving my glorious career while I was working at the position of Country Head to join my struggling start-up, was a  big risk which I took,” asserted Firoz.


Firoz wants to focus on social entrepreneurship. Through social entrepreneurship, he wants to address one of the most critical issues in society – Education. He believes that effective deployment of the latest technologies is the key to spreading education that is affordable and accessible. His latest venture UniAthena is an initiative towards meeting the same. This ed-tech platform allows learners to access courses and educate themselves for free. It seeks to empower people by leveraging technology, making the existing model of education more affordable, accessible, and flexible.

“One of the biggest challenges that I faced was not letting myself get bogged down by repeated failures of over 20 years, and not letting the failures affect my objectivity and faith in myself and my vision. I feel we should have taken up digitization and adoption of the latest technologies of our business more aggressively. We did adopt the latest technology in our business and operations. But I always feel this could have been done more proactively and earlier,” stated Firoz. 



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