Poonam Bhojani: An Embodiment of Persistence and Innovation in Education
Poonam Bhojani , CEO, Innoventures Education(cover page)

Kindly brief us in short about you and your journey since the beginning of your career. Tell us about your academic and professional milestones. Let us know about the major achievements, accolades and recognitions that you have earned in your entire career so far.

I got into the education sector in the early 2000s from a parent perspective as I wanted the very best for my two young sons. I felt they could be far more challenged and that their education could have a more international perspective. My two sons have been my inspiration in every way. At that point, much of the education in Dubai was either British, American or Indian. The international aspect of education was not so pronounced and that was what I felt was missing. With some research I discovered that the International Baccalaureate was offering not just a Diploma Programme but also programmes for children from the age of 3 years. Innoventures Education was established in 2004 to provide world-class education to Dubai. At that stage, Dubai was opening up with new business models. While I may have had the passion to get into education, the credit for translating this into a viable business entity goes to our share-holders. We are truly grateful to Mohamed Alabbar who showed confidence in our vision and thus granted us our first project in Dubai International Academy, Emirates Hills.

How do you describe yourself in one-word?


Being a prominent education leader, what are the most significant contributions you have made for the promotion of education in the society, upliftment of the educational structure in the country and development of your institution?

I take pride in the fact that we work very hard to offer world class education measuring ourselves against the highest internationally recognised benchmark standards in not just academics but also in music, sports, arts, extra-curricular activities and we focus on inculcating values of global citizenship in our students. I believe that education should be holistic, international and rigorous, and empower students with 21st century skills preparing them for success in an ever changing world. I also believe that every child is gifted and the role of educators is to identify and enable the talents of all children.

In 2014, Innoventures Education established Gift of Innoventures Education (GIVE) to mark its10 year’s journey. The GIVE initiative is committed to bringing our community together to provide ongoing support to specific causes identified by our students. At Innoventures Education the most important thing we do for our children is to help them develop values and skills that they can rely on throughout their lives. This includes contributing to international and local communities. The students of Innoventures Education have chosen the GIVE focus to be on providing education and have set up 3 schools in Nepal and are working on another school in Malawi.

In short, tell us about your organization, its distinct academic solutions, achievements, and mission, vision and USP.

Innoventures Education was established in 2004 with the vision of providing world-class education to Dubai. Dubai International Academy opened in 2005 and within a few years it has been established as one of the premier international schools in Dubai.

In 2010, Innoventures Education took over the management of the Raffles Schools and Nurseries in Dubai and added nine Raffles nurseries to its portfolio. Collegiate American School, a premium international school that offers the best of American education with a curriculum based on the American Common Core Standards, was launched in 2011. In 2018, Innoventures Education launched a second campus of Dubai International Academy in Al Barsha offering the IB Continuum of Primary Years (PYP), Middle Years (MYP) and Diploma programmes (DP). It will also opened Raffles Starters, an Early Years School offering Pre-KG, KG1 and KG2 based on the Montessori approach and feeding into its schools.

Today over 7,200 pupils from over 100 countries, ranging in age from 12 months to 18 years, study in schools and nurseries managed by Innoventures Education, making it a significant stakeholder in the education sector in Dubai.

What were the major challenges that you have faced in your academic career and what are the difficulties you have faced while establishing the educational organization to promote literacy and cause educational development?

A major shift for me was moving from a highflying career in banking technology to education. I got into it because I developed a passion for education. I was driven by the desire to achieve the best possible outcomes for children. My strength is my ability to work very hard when I set my mind to any goal. I also think that I can work well with people from all walks of life and bring out the best in them. I have learnt that success is about enabling everyone around you to be successful. I believe that if you genuinely invest in the success of your people then everything works well. Also, I never give up. With grit and resilience even most challenging goals can be achieved. It may take time but the trick is to never give up.

How do you keep yourself motivated and how do you inspire your students to take an interesting career and be the nation’s next bright future building figures?

What makes me proud is when I see a student recognize his or her talents and blossom into a fine citizen ready to take on the world in their chosen field. The fact that the education they received at our schools had a role to play in their achievements gladdens the hearts of not just their parents but all educators who have seen their metamorphosis and in some measure, have been a part of it. In the words of His Highness Shaikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai, “In the race for excellence, there is no finish line”. I also believe that attitude determines altitude. Passion, persistence and attitude are irreplaceable attributes. With these anything can be achieved. I also believe that persistence always pays. What gives me great joy is seeing how education can transform lives. I will never forget one particular student — an extremely shy Iranian boy who could barely speak English when he enrolled in our school as he came from a totally different system in his home country. This boy went on to deliver the valedictorian speech two years later and is now a successful entrepreneur after being educated on a scholarship from a top university. There have been many other such true stories. The joy of seeing young minds blossom is infinite. Such moments make me feel that we have achieved something and it has all been worthwhile.

Being in the industry for a long time, enlighten us with the educational scenario of UAE and the ever-changing education sector.

The UAE has a very stringent regulation framework that has been developed with focus on not only student attainment and progress but also student well-being and happiness. This has been clear guidance from the regulators aimed at raising educational standards across the country as the UAE moves towards attaining its goals in the international tests PISA and TIMSS. We are blessed to be in a country where the rulers see education as a tool to transform the world and the key to youth empowerment. I think that it is an excellent environment for quality education to thrive. Moreover, with schools of X curricula, the maximum in the world in one place, the UAE has established a model of leadership in the global education sector.

What message would you address to the student of the nation and the rest of the world?

To believe in the power of their dreams and have the grit and determination to follow their dreams. Have the conviction to remain on the path to achieve dreams. Values of integrity, respect and responsibility are also key even more so than the development of skills.

What are the most prospering career options that you would like to suggest?

I think that students need to follow their interests and passions in whatever they do. The world is changing rapidly. We cannot predict careers of the future. The role of education is to develop the love of learning in our young students. Equally important is the development of critical thinking skills and the application of knowledge to solving real world problems with creativity. Each and every career is meaningful especially when we aspire to be the best we can.

How do you see yourself and your organization in the future ahead?

We pride ourselves on being a student-centric organization focused on the quality of learning, of the interests and of the happiness and well-being of all our students. The advent of technology has a huge impact on the ways of learning as do increasing globalization and environmental concerns.

Our goal will always be to empower students with the abilities and skills for success in an everchanging world

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