The Early Days
Dr Selva Pankaj qualified as an Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants in 1997. His first job at a senior level was as Deputy Finance Director at Prudential Financial Inc where he built and developed the senior management team, managing twenty direct and indirect reports based both within and outside of the UK, as well as being a member of the executive board and participating in the UK and European investment committees, advisory board and audit committee. Whilst there he also completed his Master of Business Administration with Middlesex University.
After ten years Selva moved on and spent a short period as a Senior Associate at Schroders Property Investment Management and then spent a year at Rockspring Property Investments Managers as a Senior Consultant where he assisted the Managing Director with loan finance negotiations, monitored the Group’s banking facilities and oversaw the cash flow forecasts amongst other tasks.
Selva then moved to Grosvenor Estates working as a Senior Associate concentrating on one particular deal, the acquisition of Legg Mason Real Estate Inc, working alongside the Managing Director to negotiate the deal, establish the purchase price and finalising terms on the Sale and Purchase Agreement. Meanwhile he gained Fellow status with the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants.
Selva’s final role in the world of investment banking was as Chief Financial Officer at Fortress Investment Group where he worked from 2006 until 2009. Some of his key accomplishments whilst in post included working on two major capital raises amounting to over €1.5 billion of capital raised assisted by major investments banks, including Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and Merrill Lynch, the restructuring of Eurocastle tax structures after the introduction of the German corporate tax legislation changes and assisting the transaction team on real estate acquisition including a $2 billion purchase of the Mars portfolio.
Taking Control of
Whilst establishing a name for himself in the world of investment management, in 2000 Selva had established an education business, which would later become known as Regent Group, in collaboration with his wife and father. Whilst holding down his full-time job in the City, Selva had co-launched Regent Independent College, a private co-educational school and sixth form, Regent Nursery, a small childcare provision located nearby and Regent Learning Centre, a supplementary education centre.
Seeking a new challenge in 2009, Selva decided to move on from the City and moved into education full time as Regent Group’s CEO. Within a year of taking the position, Regent Group had launched a private candidate exam centre and founded another supplementary education centre.
2010 – 2020: The Journey
The pivotal moment in Regent Group history came ten years ago when Selva decided to launch Pearson’s Higher National Diploma in Business. Originally catering for some of the leavers from our sixth form, word spread in the local area and student numbers grew rapidly from 2013 onward.
Until 2018, the focus was on student number growth and building a suitable staff team and the company took two extra premises, one in Wembley and one in Kingsbury, to house the increasing numbers on-roll. Meanwhile Regent Group acquired a second school and sixth form and opened a second nursery in Southall though these have since been merged with their sister businesses in Harrow.
In February 2018 Regent College London negotiated its first partnership with a university, Buckinghamshire New University, to offer top-up programmes. This was followed by a partnership with University of Northampton later the same year, and another, the largest so far, with University of Bolton in autumn 2019. To facilitate the wide variety of University of Bolton Courses, which includes full degree programmes, foundation year courses and top-up courses, Regent Group acquired its fifth site within London, just a few minutes’ walk from Oxford Street.
Having successfully applied to be on the Office for Students register of English higher education providers in 2018, Regent College London was initially restricted in the amount that its students could borrow from the Student Loans Company. However, an application in 2020 to move categories on the register meant that effective September 2020, the College’s students were able to access higher loan amounts, thereby allowing the College to increase its tuition fees in line with that charged by most UK universities.
This coincided with the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. Previous to March 2020, the College’s provision had been wholly based on face-to-face teaching, learning and assessment. However, this unexpected incident was the catalyst for an organisational shift. The team made rapid preparations to move all of its teaching provision, and associated support services, to digital delivery with MS Teams being the core software at the heart of this transformation.
Surprisingly the digital transformation was quite successful, with increased attendance from the student population. The revolution has also been highly beneficial for the staff productivity as meetings over video conferencing, such as MS Team and Zoom, has eroded the need to travel from site to site. This change has also accelerated the College’s plans to digitise learning and it is investing in a number of digital solutions with this in mind.
One of the long-term ambitions for Regent College London is that it acquire degree awarding powers. This has been made possible for private sector providers with the introduction of the Higher Education & Research Act. Plans have now been put in motion to instigate the necessary changes within the organisation to prepare for the application process.
Selva has long had an interest in British politics and has been a member of the Conservative Party for some years. In 2017, he subscribed to The Leader’s Group, a group of individuals who act as a sounding board for the most senior Conservative Party officials and hold fund-raising events.
Selva is a supporter of a number of charities both within and outside of the UK such as the The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Foundation. He is also a trustee of Unstoppable Foundation UK. In 2017, in collaboration with his partner, he launched the annual Global Unity Dinner, at which community leaders, business owners and politicians, join together to promote global unity. The event has been on pause during the coronavirus pandemic and is anticipated to resume in summer 2022.
Selva: the student
A great fan of lifelong learning, Selva has embarked upon a number of executive training courses over the past five years, starting with a course in early 2016 at the London Business School on the Essentials of Leadership, followed by a visit to Harvard in the summer to take the Disruptive and Sustainable Innovation programme and Stanford’s Leading Change and Organisation Renewal followed in autumn 2019. In autumn 2020 Selva embarked upon a part-time PhD with Bishop Grosseteste University.
Selva: the author
Inspired by knowledge he had acquired from both his studies and a great deal of wider reading around human behaviour and human potential, and his experiences of working in both the investment management and education sectors, Selva decided to try his hand at writing and has since written two books; Thinking into Character, published in summer 2019 and The Power of Learning from DAD, published in autumn 2020.
Alongside the development of the UK based education business, Regent is setting up a base in Dubai, the USA and India as part of its global expansion. It has also prepared some ambitious plans to move into other industries as outlined below.
Regent will concentrate on three type of business activities: education, internet based e-commerce & real estate. These all have huge opportunity to grow during the pandemic, during the relaxation of lockdown and post pandemic. However, the key for growth must have a “technological” core. It is expected that growth post pandemic will be on a massive scale, both in the UK and globally. A ‘new world’ will open in autumn 2021. The business needs will be more than it was prior to the pandemic but the business operators will not be the same; lots of start-ups can become global brands. Regent’s growth will be enabled by the latest technology and allow the company to grow as a global brand. The focus is on disruptive innovation with a technological core, and the key focus is on scale to make a massive change in the world.
- Create and operate Regent Hill University with DAS (Direct Academic Students). This will be a ring fenced business, via a regulated legal entity in accordance with OFS/HERA regulations with Ed. tic.
- Operate in partnership with UK universities in joint venture businesses, based on a long term management fees model. These students are classified as IAS (Indirect Academic Students)
- JV partnership with University of Bolton, in relation to Fd.Sc (alternative product to Pearson HND) and as an awarding body, possible UFP (alternative product of NCUK and Click English). E-sports and sell it/them globally as undergraduate and postgraduate offerings. Regent can sell all these products to global markets as B2B and some may be B2C deals.
- Regent Publishing gets commercialised and creates digital content/resources for Regent College London.
- Private fee paying sixth form for UK and international students, including Regent College Online, an online college for GCSE, AL & UFP. https://www.regentcollege.uk.com/regent-college-online/
- Childcare/nursery franchise business.
- Click English as a teaching, assessment and training business for international students.
- Corporate training and LaaS (Learning as a Service ) with www.tic.uk.com Ed. tic
- Ed. flex – Short 15 minutes high quality HD movies on key educational topics.
- UK/US MSc/MBA as 100% online/digital delivery for UK/US mainland consumers.
- Real estate investments and developments.
- Construction management.
- Real Estate management and asset management of university estates.
- www.regentmarket.com This is a market place for service providers to sell their products. Regent will focus initially on tech based products and services. The product catalogue will expand over time.
- www.RIMCompare.com – This is a price comparison website for the construction industry.
Regent will have a legal entity set up in the UK, the USA, Dubai and India. All these markets are growing and will facilitate Regent’s global growth.
Awards and Recognition
In light of his contributions, Selva has received a number of awards, such as Winner of the Businessman of the Year Award at the London Asian Business Awards 2019, Winner of the Finance Monthly CEO Awards 2018 and Winner of the Entrepreneur of the Year Award at the 16th Asian Achievers Awards 2016. Selva was also recognised for his contribution to education with two honorary doctorates in 2019.