Nowshir Engineer: Founder & MD, EMDI, In Conversation

Interview with Nowshir Engineer- Founder and Managing Director, EMDI Institute of Media and Communications

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12 years ago – at the age of 24 years, Nowshir Engineer developed a passion for events and media that would make him a pioneer of ‘the science of event management& media training’ – and put him at the head of the region’s foremost media training schools.

1. Nowshir, was there a particular event or occasion that became the inspiration for EMDI?

“Yes, very much so. I did a three-month internship with a bank in their retail and event marketing division and found myself fascinated with the power of events and experiential marketing. You could say that I was hooked for life! I realized that although this was a big sector, there was no-one carrying out accredited or skill based training. When an Events company hired people, it had no way of knowing how good those people would be – and similarly, there was no way of learning the key skills that would serve you well in that industry and build a platform for your progress. I knew that if I could create a good training benchmark it could be the basis of a very strong business model. The entrepreneur spirit kicked in, and I went ahead and in 2002 setup my training business – and called it the Event Management Development Institute. Being a young and new brand, we decided on a business model of getting 100% industry professionals to come and teach at the Institute, which helped us become a part of the industry, our students worked on their events, and did internships, which finally lead to placements.

2002 was exciting but in 2003 we saw a huge downturn in our plan. We tried to over-achieve and in 1 year leveraged ourselves and setup in locations like Pune, Bangalore, Cochin, Coimbatore and Hyderabad – besides setting up an online portal called eventfaqs and tried to promote an international conference on event measurement. Murphy’s Law – what can go wrong – will go wrong!! A lot of business management decisions went wrong, cash flow management was tough, and times were very tough. We had to rebuild ourselves, shake of the dust. We closed centers which had poor management, we shut down operations that were not high quality, we ensured that students did not suffer, but me and my 2 partners stuck to the task of getting out of the financial hole. In 2008 we partnered and tied up with Greycells Education Limited, which is a globally listed corporate to help us grow and increase our product portfolio, and since then there has been no looking back. With my new partners in GC, we learnt the systems of financial discipline, management, audit and process. My new partners now are the promoters of Greycells Education – Sanjiv and Bela – and together we are building an Institute of quality!

2. What style of training does EMDI offer?

“There are basically four areas of training. These are –

• The creative/conceptual side

• The marketing sponsorship and client/account management side

• The production dimension –everything from venue/logistics/backstage, coordination, budgeting, health /safety etc

• Technical’s & Special Effects

Covering all these core areas means that when a student graduates from a course, he or she has a 360-degree awareness of the subject. So if the area of study is Events management, for example, you’ll find that our graduates have an in-depth knowledge of all the technical side – not just the logistics of how to arrange the event or choosing a venue. This makes our graduates far more marketable -they can make an immediate contribution in the work environment. We gear things in this way because so often, I’ve worked with people who find themselves in a job where they simply don’t have all the skills they need.

3. What accreditation do your courses have?

“All our courses are accredited internationally by EDEXCEL, the UK’s largest vocational awarding body. Edexcel is part of the PARSON group – one of the most universally-respected of all accreditation brands so when you leave EMDI, your qualification is instantly recognizable wherever you apply. Also in markets like India our courses are accredited by the Industry body for each stream. Simply magic for our students!

The quality and industry-relevance of what we do is paramount – our quest is to get every student a job, without being Harvard University!”

4. Do your courses have a ‘work placement’ element?

Absolutely – I’ve always felt this is very important, because it completes the ‘real world’, 360-degree awareness of the subject and does a lot to increase the graduate’s marketability. Students have the chance to work on structured internships and events during the course of their studies, often working on ‘live’ projects with prestigious international brands. ‘Earning while you’re learning’ is the best way to get them.”

5. Is there a typical student demographic at EMDI? How does it vary between Dubai, India and Africa?

“The demographics vary enormously. In Dubai, for instance, our intake is very mixed. 45 per cent of students are Asian and 45 per cent non-Asian (British, South African, Australian), with only 10 per cent Arabic Nationalities. I would very much like to see more students enrolling from Arabic backgrounds, but there’s a certain amount of cultural resistance to overcome. Dubai is very unique in giving us a high proportion of non-Asian students, a result of its being such a cosmopolitan hub.

‘You also have to consider as well how different countries have different age requirements before a student can enroll. So in Dubai, a student has to be at least 18 to enroll, whereas in India, for our full time courses you have to be a graduate. Here in Dubai, all our courses are part-time, taking place at evenings and weekends, which usually encourages young working professionals to enroll.”

6. The name ‘EMDI’ is an acronym, isn’t it? What does it stand for?

“It currently stands for our ethos: Educate Motivate, Develop, and Inspire. I chose these words because we offer much more than just a formal academic education; our goal is not just to give students the skills they need to make progress in the industry sector they choose, but to give them an inspirational input that can stay with them the rest of their lives and always nourish and sustain them in their quest for success in any given sector.”