CXO of the week: Gaurav Vohra, Chief Business Officer, UNext

Publication: CIOL
August 26, 2022

UNext Learning, backed by the Manipal Education and Medical Group, is an online learning organisation focused on the higher education ecosystem. It is India’s first ed-tech company that provides end-to-end learning and assessment solutions in the online space. With best-in-class content and technology stack, it offers the platform for online degrees and courses, online assessments and engagement tools for building a community for lifelong learning.

Gaurav has over two decades of experience in the field of analytics and has worked across multiple verticals including financial services, retail, FMCG, telecom, pharmaceuticals, and leisure. An alumnus of IIM-Bangalore, Gaurav co-founded Jigsaw Academy in 2011 and has led the business since then. He has successfully raised venture funding from investors including MEMG to scale Jigsaw and has built a strong ed-tech brand in the emerging technology space.

In his role as Chief Business Officer of UNext, Gaurav will be responsible for the growth of online degree and certification programmes, marketing, and enterprise sales (the erstwhile ProLearn B2B business).

We recently interacted with Gaurav Vohra, Chief Business Officer, UNext. He shared important details about UNext, his entrepreneurial journey, the company’s growth, and much more. Read below to know more about it.

Introduction

I’ve been in the field of analytics for over two decades now. I’ve worked across verticals like financial services, retail, FMCG, telecom, pharmaceuticals, and leisure industries. In 2010, Sarita Digumarti and I started our own company (Jigsaw) because we clearly identified an opportunity to help professionals upskill in Data Science and build industry-oriented Data Science and Analytics abilities. Today, the company has successfully extended its programs across multiple domains for professionals of all kinds.

How has Covid-19 accelerated the transition to digital for the Education industry? What will be the new normal in the education industry?

When we started Jigsaw, a lot of people told us that offering analytics programs online in India may not be the best idea because our country was yet to accept the idea of learning remotely. But then the onset of the pandemic left everyone with no other choice but to go digital. Even in the post-pandemic world, we can clearly notice that remote learning and hybrid learning have become the new normal in the education sector. There are several benefits that come with online learning, and after getting a taste of them recently, the country’s education system doesn’t want to let go of it completely.

What, as per you, are the three important things that UNext & Jigsaw should be looking at today?

Right now, the three main focus areas for UNext & Jigsaw are offering seamless student journeys, best-in-class learning experience and data. Let me elaborate on each of them.

Seamless student journeys:

One of our main objectives is to offer affordable and accessible learning to each and every learner. Once the learners set out on a mission to complete a program, we make it a point to eliminate any obstacle that could distract them or slow down their progress. Our learners are notified about every new feature we come up with that can enhance their learning journey. Learners who work with multiple programming languages are provided with a single tool for a hassle-free experience. We’ve also adopted new-age payment mechanisms to offer flexible payment options to our learners. Offering a seamless learning experience will continue to be one of our main focuses.

Best-in-class learning experience:

There is a vast difference between learning offline and online. We don’t just make online learning as effective and interactive as offline learning, we make it even better. Through live classes, learners can connect with the faculty and easily get their queries answered. We even make our learning material accessible in multiple formats like pdfs, books, videos, etc. Soon, we’ll introduce a brand new learning experience for our learners that will enable them to stream the learning content like they consume content from OTT platforms.

Data:

The data that we collect helps us improve student experience to a great extent. For example, when a learner completes an assessment, the collected data can help us identify the areas they need to improve, and we can offer them the resources that can help them improve. I feel we should keep looking at our data to enhance the learning experience of our candidates.

Biggest USP that differentiates UNext/Jigsaw from its competitors?

While everyone in the market is offering a learning opportunity, we’re offering an upskilling experience, and our learners consider it to be a one-of-a-kind lifelong experience. We don’t stop at just providing learners with an industry-relevant curriculum, hands-on exercises, placement assistance, etc. We provide them with the right environment to help them truly grow. Our alumni don’t remember us for only helping them master the in-demand skills and knowledge. They also thank us for the support they received at every stage of their learning journey until they transformed into the best professional version of themselves.

What changes are UNext/Jigsaw bringing to the industry?

Since 2011, Jigsaw has been at the top of the leaderboard in offering learning programs in emerging technologies. Our programs help learners upskill with industry-relevant curricula, stay relevant & get noticed. The merger with UNext, India’s 1st ed-tech company that provides end-to-end learning & assessment solutions online, offered us a larger canvas to carefully curate industry-relevant professional programs. Together, we’re all set to impact the lives of learners across the entire higher education spectrum – starting from online college degrees to specially curated, industry-relevant professional programs. For knowledge-hungry candidates, our seamless and robust programs will be a learning treat they cannot resist.

How did you adopt tech at your company?

Our learners experience an interactive upskilling journey and they’re constantly updated about new additions in our list of offerings. For learners who work with multiple programming languages, we offer a single platform. We’ve also adopted new-age payment mechanisms to offer flexible payment options to our learners. To make learning accessible at all times, our learning material are available in formats like pdfs, books, videos, etc. Remote proctoring is also available for best-in-class assessment experience.

What are your views on the IT industry during the pandemic, and what are some of the insights on the future?

During the pandemic, the Indian economy slowed down to a great extent. The IT industry, however, kept growing and evolving and attending to its domestic and international clientele. According to the Indian Brand Equity Foundation, the Indian IT industry alone was responsible for as much as 8% of India’s GDP in 2020. While Covid-19 introduced numerous difficulties for us, the IT domain paid attention to these problems and focused on building solutions. Whether we look at Education, Finance, e-Commerce, or Healthcare, Information Technology curated solutions in every domain. As pointed out by NASSCOM & McKinsey, I truly believe India’s technology services industry can achieve around USD 350 Bn in annual revenue by 2025 if it focuses well on emerging technologies like Cloud, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Cybersecurity, etc.

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