In our series of interviewing mompreneurs, Famous Parenting brings to you a wonderful educator-entrepreneur Mom, Ms. Sonya Muthalia.
CEO and Founder of Informed Decisions, a preparation place for all SAT,ACT,GRE/GMAT aspirants.
Sonya believes in keeping it small in order to keep it tuned with individual student requirement. Apart from teaching Sonya is passionate about cooking and travelling.
Please connect the dots of your childhood that made you the person you are.
I was raised by a single working mother – a Cardiac Anaesthesiologist. From a very early age the importance of financial independence and working hard towards achieving one’s goals were the examples set by her.
Even after having a hectic and chaotic schedule, she still spent more quality time with me than most of my friend’s parents.
I was also lucky to have been surrounded by a very close knit maternal family, this has been a great factor in establishing sense of family values and relations.
How has your formal education shaped your life?
My school performance till the 8th grade was just about average, but entering 9th grade changed it all.
I was introduced to a very different way of teaching in Mathematics by my school teacher, Mrs. Rani Bhinde. Sonya Muthalia says she made me love Mathematics and also made me want to perform in the other subjects.
She would let me assist her in explaining concepts to the students who were weaker than the rest, this made me realise my love for teaching.
By the time I was in 12th grade I was teaching SAT and in my senior year in college, I was tutoring GMAT and GRE students.
How has your journey with “Informed Decisions” been? What prompted you to start out on your own at such a young age?
Informed Decisions has been a culmination of my husband’s vision and my passion to teach. The idea was to start a boutique tutorial, a place to spread knowledge and empower students to achieve their goals.
Before starting Informed Decisions in 2002, I worked at different institutes for 2 years, to gain experience.
In every place I came away with the same feeling of frustration and dissatisfaction. This came from knowing that so much more could be done in the training process. Sonya Muthalia thought that most places cut corners and only concentrate on the profits.
This led to the birth of Informed Decisions, the idea was to teach with passion and with integrity.
“Technology can enable women to find their true voice. Technology, if used for self-growth, it can offer avenues to women which were unavailable earlier”. Your comments.
Technology has been a real game changer for us. A large number of our students are from USA, UK, Dubai and also other parts of India.
They attend the main teaching module in Mumbai and then during the mock tests modules, we Skype or FaceTime the difficulty solving sessions.
This has enabled us to cover the distance while still maintaining an interactive teaching session.
How has your motherhood contributed to you as an individual and as a leader in Education?
I can’t help but draw a parallel between being a mother and being a leader. Motherhood and leadership require the same skill sets.
Possessing self awareness, emotional intelligence, flexibility, conflict management, listening, and communications skills.
The most important mission for mothers is to nurture, develop, and inspire our children. Our mothers are our first leadership models, the lifetime mentors we will never forget, and our strongest imprint.
For women, motherhood is one of the most important leadership experiences where our ability to “figure it out” is constantly tested.
Talk about three people who have had the most profound influence on you.
Three would be too small a number, too many people have contributed to and influenced my life. Sonya Muthalia states that her mother would be top of the list.
Interacting with the students and listening to what they have to say, has greatly influenced my methods of teaching. It has helped me improve and constantly innovate.
My husband was the one with the vision, he believed in my ability to teach way before I did.
Please share your experiences with some children who made you proud after preparing at your Institute for SAT/GMAT/GRE.
For me effective teaching is all about the emotional connect. My journey with each students is unique and distinct.
I am humbled when I see students travel from different cities and various countries to be tutored at Informed Decisions. It gives me the motivation to work harder.
It’s exhilarating to see a student succeed and to witness their achievement.
Success for Sonya Muthalia is not only getting the top scores, but being able to instil the confidence to succeed against all odds.
My rapport with my students is something that I enjoy. Even after entering college, they stay in touch through various means of social media. They share experiences of their new life in college ….. These are moments of pride.
Your philosophy of life in a sentence.
Treat others the way you want them to treat you.
Tell us about your future plans.
I am not a planner, I have never planned anything. I have only followed my passion for teaching and things have fallen in place for me.
What would you like to convey to those moms who have dreams and ideas but they feel bogged down by family and social responsibilities.
The various roles that we play, of a mother, wife, daughter ….. Trap us in a routine, which is difficult to cut through.
But we need to prioritise and manage time effectively. I cannot imagine anyone going through life and not being involved with his/her passion.
Don’t let the fear of failure paralyse you, accept the challenges and move out of your comfort zone.