What stops us from achieving what we desire? The limitations exist only in our thoughts. Once we cross that barrier-potential inside our mind, we unleash our potential and rise to the challenges, overcome it and preserve that feat in the pages of memory to remind us that we are capable of doing everything.
Here is a doctor helping hundreds change their attitude towards challenges by mentoring them to face their fears before they set on to achieve anything. One of the first in the state to start an all-women training for the reputed civil service examination, with Santhanu’s Sixth Sense, she is transforming the lives of working women and home-makers, assisting their journey towards the dream of entering LBSNAA. In conversation with Veena on her journey mentoring women and bringing a new direction to their goals.
Tell us about yourself, your background, and your previous ventures.
I am Veena Santhanu Nair, hailing from Trivandrum. I am a Doctor (BHMS), and I also work as a mentor, trainer, and teacher. I was a civil service aspirant, and I started my civil service exam training venture in 2007.
Could you brief us on the story behind your venture? What inspired you to start it?
I spent a lot of money and time studying for the UPSC exam; I worked extremely hard but did not get the desired result. In that journey, I learned a lot through trial and error, I realized that what we need for this exam is smart work rather than hard work, and I went on to help other candidates with my experience.
How did others react to your idea of starting such a venture?
Some dodged it off as a waste of energy and time, while the majority supported me by saying I could be an excellent teacher /mentor. And the most important one who encouraged and believed me was my husband, Santhanu.M, a trainer in the Corporate sector and game streamer by passion.
What are your unique selling points? What makes you stand out from the rest?
I am the first Mentor in the Civil service arena who started a women’s only batch in the Civil service exam, focusing on working women and homemakers.
I selected this category because they are the ones who need support. Working women have to juggle between home, work, and studies. Homemakers have to balance the activities of their home and studies. These categories can never go for regular classroom studies if they can’t afford online class timings.
And I stand out from the rest by mentoring such a category in their desired timings. I have early morning and late-night classes. And I am available 24/7 for them over WhatsApp too. Even their children are taking foundation courses under me. And my foundation class helps children (class VII-XII)to build a civil servant aptitude. And I am running a 3 level foundation course.
What is the process of selection of candidates at your institution? What are the different plans and courses that you offer?
An aptitude test and an interview is a must for every fresh candidate.
The different courses here are,
1) Civil service Prelims/Mains/Interview course
2) Civil service subjects through modules
3) Foundation course for UPSC Civil service Exam
4) Mentoring for school subjects of all syllabus. (Aim to bring concept clarity in school level itself that will eventually help them in competitive exams like the Civil service exam in future)
What excites you about your venture? What are the primary goals that you have as a startup?
I believe that woman empowerment translates to the nation’s empowerment, and the sharpest tool that empowers one is Education.
I work with the following goals in my mind:
1)Maximize the number of women in the nation-building process
2)Make a solid foundation for school students
3)Eliminate the fear of writing a Civil service exam in English. Many people force students from regional language backgrounds to write in a regional language only. And this is making the students fall into the bottomless pit of inferiority complex and insecurities. They shy away from their opportunities. One should select the regional language out of love and not fear.
4) Make students and aspirants understand the importance of smart work and commonsense, thus bursting the overinflated balloon of hard work.
What are some of the challenges you faced while setting this up? How did you overcome these?
There are several myths related to this exam. Bursting these bubbles before making them ready for the exam is a tough job and a challenge. I was able to overcome this hurdle by effectively communicating with the student and helping them overcome the limitations in their minds before they set forth to pursue the subjects for the exam.
What are your plans? Where do you see yourself in five years?
I intend to create an app for providing free mentoring classes, tips, and timely live advice to students in general and UPSC aspirants in particular all around India. Another goal I work towards is Empowering the Sustainable Self-dependency of fellow beings.. i.e., helping every person I meet to recognize their inner potential by making them understand self-love and then helping them realize their areas of strengths and pursue their dream life independently. Impacting a girl’s life by making her feel that it is possible to have a remarkable career and family together; without sacrificing one for others has been a dream. I would also love to contribute to creating the generation of self lovers, Unconditional givers with a solid responsibility to nature.
In five years, I see myself as a socially responsible, environmentally active person with a global impact on education. I intend to see myself educating, empowering, and energizing lives.
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