To the surprise of many, Selva Pankaj, (Fellow member of Chartered Management Accountants with a, MBA) currently CEO of Regent Group, an education group based in north-west London, has not always been in the education sector, but joined the sector in 2009 after two decades of corporate experience in multiple blue chip organisations based in the UK, USA and Europe.
During that time he worked with high profile lawyers, accountants, auditors, actuaries, investment bankers and management consultants. Having a keen interest in economics, management, finance, politics and philosophy to name but a few, Selva has an ever inquisitive mind and is always on the look-out for ‘out of the box’ solutions for business challenges and is a true entrepreneur with innovation in his DNA.
His career has spanned sectors such as investment management, investment banking, fund management, finance, merchant banking, education, consultancy and guest lecturing and he has worked in high profiles firms which include Prudential Financial Inc, PRICOA Property Plc, Schroders Investments, Grosvenor Group, Fortress Investment Group, also, the University of Westminster and recently, Regent Group. During this time he has managed various Joint Venture projects with Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and other major investment banks in the UK, Europe and the USA.
Whilst working in the corporate finance world Selva had many successes to his name including involvement in major capital raises amounting to over €1.5 billion of capital alongside Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and Merrill Lynch, restructuring the tax structures of closed end investment companies that invest and manage a diverse portfolio of Commercial Real Estate, derivatives and investments and his direct involvement, including negotiating deals and establishing a purchase price, in the acquisition of Legg Mason Real Estate Inc whilst working for Grosvenor Property Fund Management and co-ordinating IPOs in the NYSE, the LSE and European stock markets.
He successfully launched and managed various businesses over two decades, developed strategy proposals for recommendation to management boards and ensured that agreed strategies were implemented, introduced effective change management strategies, led various mergers and acquisition transactions to successful completion and led various executive teams including effectively overseeing the resolution of performance management issues. He also set the culture and developed the strategy and direction of senior management teams and oriented, educated and engaged board members to maximise effectiveness and productivity.
However, it was whilst he was working at Prudential Financial Inc that he simultaneously took up a part-time position as a guest lecturer at Westminster University &Hendon College lecturing on professional finance courses and it was this that really instigated his interest in the education sector. In his spare time, he began teaching A-Level students from home and this was his inspiration to form Regent Independent School & Sixth Form College in 2000 with his partner, Tharshiny Pankaj.
Always one for multi-tasking, Selva took up the task of building up Regent Group alongside his career in the City. Under Selva’s and Tharshiny’s care, Regent College established sister divisions which developed into Regent Group.
However, by 2009 the Group had grown to such an extent that it required time and attention that Selva found himself unable to give whilst still working in the City. To take the family business forward, he decided it was time to focus purely on developing Regent Group and left Fortress in 2009 to do so, and whilst he retains fond memories of his corporate years, he has never looked back.
In the past five years whilst Selva has been holding the role of Regent Group CEO, he has overseen and managed the opening of two further RLC tuition centres, one in Wembley and one in Edgware, the opening of private candidate centre, Burlington College, the establishment of a thriving Higher Education division and most recently, the introduction of Regent Skills Training, providing further education services, to the Group via funding from the Skills Funding Agency. Selva is also looking to found another college, Albany College, in the locality. This is in the spirit of the original Albany College in Hendon which was one of the first tutorial style colleges that came into existence in London. This is a project dear to Selva’s heart as this had been one upon which he planned to work alongside his father who suddenly passed away and thus he is ‘picking up the thread’ now
To have achieved a long and successful career in the City is no mean feat, nor is the construction of an educational Group providing services to babies all the way to adults and providing employment for over a hundred individuals. To do both of these things at the same time is unquestionably an accomplishment.
The 2013/2014 year has certainly been a busy one for Selva. The fastest growing division within the Group has been the HE division this year. Selva’s first task was to find a new site to accommodate our multiple cohorts. He secured a fantastic building sited in Wembley Park, fitting it out to a high standard to meet the needs of our students. He also welcomed some very experienced and reputable HE professionals including Professor Donald Pennington, previously pro vice chancellor at Coventry University, Dr Paul Hartley, former vice-chancellor at Gloucestershire University, and Dr Michael Pinfold, previously Head of Collaborative provision, also at Gloucestershire University and takes great pleasure in bringing expertise from the HE public sector into the HE private sector, a trend which he promotes. In partnership with a close friend and business acquaintance, he also opened The Blend, a café-canteen by day serving our student body, and function room by evening and weekend, serving the local community.
Selva has also acted as the Facilitator, the key contact, for our Quality Assurance Agency Review for Educational Oversight, getting fully involved in all the preparation and partaking in all the meetings for the process. He was delighted when the College was awarded Judgements of ‘Confidence/Confidence/Reliance’: the top judgements available.
Selva has continued to act as Quality Nominee for Edexcel and was again the primary contact for the Academic Management Review in February by Sarah Colmar where the College was awarded the top result in all eight review areas and then again most recently in our visit in May 2014 from the Edexcel Standards Verifier which went very well indeed.
Within Regent Learning Centre, Selva has continued to watch closely over operations, working with our HR Manager to ensure that we maintained a highly skilled team of tutors and instigated our application to join The Tutors’ Association.
He has worked alongside Jo, manager of Regent Nursery School, to formulate and put into practice an initiative to encourage healthy eating at the nursery and worked with Jo, her team, and our nursery parents to update and upgrade the nursery provision and it is now a delightfully enticing environment.
Selva continues to support his team of staff at Regent Independent School & Sixth Form College and relishes meeting new parents and students at the beginning of the year when we enrol new students in September, calming nervous parents and inspiring our new students to put in their very best efforts into their studies.
Selva’s most recent triumph however, is the Group’s diversification into the further education market, having just won a sub-contract for 24+ provision from the reputable 5E having gained entry into the Skills Funding Agency’s Register of Training Organisations in early 2014. Selva has also been actively looking into other opportunities within the sector and is in talks with other main contractors.
Selva has also created the Regent Advisory Group (RAG), a panel of individuals from a range of professions, some at the very peak of the industry, giving advice and guidance to Regent’s directors, thus bringing new experience and expertise into the industry, challenging traditions and processes.
Outside of the Group, Selva continues to be of considerable assistance to the Principal of Gateway Academy in working alongside the DFE to secure a site for the school. Gateway Academy, part of Innovation Academies Trust (IAT), due to open in the London borough of Brent in September 2015 is being sponsored by Regent Group and Selva very much sees it as his chance to give back to the community. The school, which was inspired after a meeting with Selva’s close acquaintance, Lord Popat,(who was an ex-Regent parent of 2002) will also give greater choice to students and parents in a borough with many struggling secondary schools, and will foster British values, something which Selva has a passion for, thus enhancing community cohesiveness, and naturally, given his background, Selva is delighted that the school will have Enterprise as one of its four cornerstones. He was also thrilled when several of his former colleagues agreed to be part of the IAT board bringing highly valuable corporate experience to public sector education. This includes Ian Baker, Finance Partner at Rockspring, previously Finance Director at Prudential Financial Inc and, Paul Smith, Finance Partner at Blick Rothenberg, previously Global Tax Director at Prudential Financial Inc, Simon Winters OBE, previously an advisor to Bill Clinton and Colin Powell, and local professionals from the IT and legal sector.
Unbelievably, Selva still finds time to fit more into his packed schedule and recently created his own website to kick off his consultancy and public speaking business. He has also been invited to join Huete & Co, a very well respected and successful company of consultants, led by the famous Luis Huete, considered one of the top management thinkersaccording to the Institute of International Research, and he is greatly looking forward to all the challenges that this will bring. Luis has also expressed an interest to Selva in launching the Regent Leadership Academy in the UK along with some of his colleagues.
Aspiring to give back to the local community, Selva is also the Vice-President of the Harrow Business Club, an initiative to help Harrow’s small and medium sized business community to connect, promote and grow. Not only is Selva acting as the Vice-President, Regent Group is also a sponsor for the Club and has hosted several events including ones at which Lord Dolar Popat, Ian Duncan Smith, Oliver Letwin, Lord Howard Leigh, Liam Fox and Matthew Hancock MP, Minister for Skills and Enterprise were guest speakers.
Selva has also been recently appointed to the board of the Epikurean Group in Thailand which specialises in hospitality management. Selva brings valuable knowledge of corporate finance experience and educational expertise to the board.
Selva’s philosophy is, ‘Teach and Share as you go.’Selva believes thatyou learn best when you teach someone else and that your learning is ‘internalised’ when you live it via teaching others.
Selva’s mission now is to bring his experience he gained in the Global Blue Chip organisations in to the Education Sector with dedication, determination and a desire to succeed with the core motto of Regent Group –‘The End of Education is Character.’ Having a combination of experience in the corporate sector and the education sector gives Selva a unique perspective as he can recognise the challenges and pitfalls and thereby can help the education sector flourish by sharing his knowledge and experience to provide solutions which he is happy to share.
Since fully taking over Regent Group in 2009, Selva has achieved the following. Turnover has increased from £1million to £7million, and is projected to increase yet more to £9 million in the 2015 financial year. Staff numbers have increased from 40 to over 150 and this is predicted to increase to 250 by the 2015 financial year. Regent Group had a property asset value of £2million; it now stands £10million and is predicted to increase to £15million over the next three years. The enterprise value has grown from almost a start-up to £25million today and is projected to double over the next five years to £50 million.
As you will see, Selva is a man of many talents who does not shy away from any challenge. He possesses the presence of mind to be able to devote himself to multiple projects whilst always looking for new opportunities, and that is no common quality….