Nov. 30, 2021

20. Mital Thanki


Hear from Mital Thanki, the founder and CEO of Spark Academy, a tutoring service specialising in holistic and academic provision for Maths, English and Science. In this episode, we learn how the support from a teacher gave Mital the confidence to flourish and develop her own passion for teaching. 

Be sure to listen to the very end of the episode for bonus material.

 You can get in contact with Mital and find out more about Spark Academy here:

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mitalthanki/
Website: https://spark-academy.co.uk/
Podcast: https://thecareercrowd.com/ 

A transcription of each episode as well as guest profiles and much more is available on our website www.sondership.com

Credits
Title music - Buddha by Kontekst https://soundcloud.com/kontekstmusic
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Free Download or Stream: http://bit.ly/2Pe7mBN
Music promoted by Audio Library https://youtu.be/b6jK2t3lcRs 

Transcript
Danny:

You've got your own podcast show.

Mital:

Yeah, so that's the Career Crowd Podcast and that's with my friends, John and Ian, and essentially it was just a Hey, let's talk about careers and how we can actually support people who are on their career journey, make better decisions. So it's just, you know, meeting some really incredible people along the way. And I think that's what I love about, about the podcast itself. Cause it's just like, wow, there's amazing people out there who are doing some brilliant things.

Danny:

Welcome to the Sondership podcast. I'm your host, Danny Attias. The Sondership podcast is all about hearing inspiring stories from people with purpose and today's person with purpose is Mital Thanki, she's the founder and the CEO of Spark Academy, a tutoring service, which specializes in holistic and academic provision for maths, English, and science. Mital believes she is creating a legacy that inspires future generations to become the best versions of themselves, supporting them to discover, accomplish, and surpass their own perceived potential. Mital is also MBA qualified and she was recently awarded the MBA student of the year award, a global award out of 20,000 students. I'm just going to pause there for a moment, that is incredible. I'm surrounded by MBA students every day, every working day now that I'm at the London business school, that is incredible. You've got some tough competition. Mital is an award winning business woman, chartered certified manager, university board member, podcaster, I'm feeling the pressure and author. She is active in the charity space, passionate about lifelong learning and spreading the love of learning far and wide. Mital, welcome to the Sondership podcast.

Mital:

Thank you very much, Danny. Thank you for having me here.

Danny:

Hopefully, you know, the Sondership podcast is based on the concept of Sonder, Sonder being those moments when you realize that your story, isn't the only one, that every random passer-by has got a story as vivid and complex as your own. Mital, can you share with us your earliest or most memorable Sonder moment?

Mital:

So growing up, I was told by my chemistry teacher that I wasn't good enough to get a grade D let alone a grade A.

Danny:

Eating their words now.

Mital:

know, right. And back then I was 16 years old. Just, just moved into a new sixth\ form, and, before that I was doing really well. I was doing incredibly well actually. For my GCSEs, I did pretty well. And then, you know, went into college and, I got told that so I was pretty conscientious. I got hit with that and it was as a result of me just asking for help. And he said, these specific words to me, why are you bothering? You're not good enough to get a D let alone an A, just don't bother. And at that time I think, it hurt my ego, it hurt my resilience. And that's when I thought right, I'm going to give up. And I did. I think it just, it bruised my ego a lot. And I think, I just didn't know how to handle that at that particular time. I think now, I can look back at it and think of it as ego. And then, uh, it just so happened that I was indulging in activity and behavior that I shouldn't have been. I was actually not turning up to classes, doing all the things that you shouldn't be doing, and I, I thought, right, I need to enter the world of work. So I entered the world of work. And then I soon realized that, Hey, this is what I want to do. I was working in a call center. And my parents were at their wit's end at that particular point. They're like, what's happening to my daughter. They would constantly say to me, Mital, you need to go back, you need to go back to school and I'd be like, no, don't want to, this is my life now. And I think there was a series of things that were going on in my life at that particular time that made me make those decisions. And I think being quite young and impressionable. You sort of go down, different paths in the end, I decided to go back to college, and I met the most amazing teacher, so I changed colleges. And so for me, I met my new chemistry teacher. Her name was Anne and Anne was compassionate, she was kind, she was so giving of her time, she understood that I was nervous about coming back. She took the time to understand my background, understand why I didn't go to college for another year and, and, and start it all over again. And what she said to me was Mital, you've got to remember. You're brave. You're brave coming back in and I'm going to help you and I'm going to support you through that. And do you know what she turned my worst subject into my favorite subject and you know, and honestly she shone her light on me and she made me realize that actually, I can do it. I remember finishing my A levels and I got great grades and I got into university, but it was Anne, it was when she turned around and said to me, see, I knew you could do it. It was at that moment that I was, decided that I want to teach. And it was at that moment that I decided I wanted to teach specifically chemistry and also help children become a lot more confident, become more resilient and basically become ready for this ever evolving world, you know, be able to face challenges because I think had I had certain tools and had I known, certain practices, mindfulness practices, mindset practices. Had I known that when I was that age? Then yeah, okay, my life might have been slightly different. I wouldn't change it because I'm able to I wouldn't change it. I wouldn't change it because actually the work that I do right now is helping thousands of kids achieve their potential, but it's helping them realize their potential too. And that's why I do what I do. And that's for me, I think I made a sort of Hippocratic oath, but in a teacher sense, to say that any child that's under my watch, I want to make sure I nurture them. I'm going to make sure that, we get them to where they really want to, and, surpass the learning potential as well.

Danny:

Amazing. I can hear the emotion in your voice when you talked about that experience. That still must grate I wonder probably every teacher out there has got a best teacher story to tell the teacher that saw the light within them and kind of lit that candle. And, I mean, isn't that wonderful, but it's sad and it's wonderful. It's sad that one person can beat your soul down to stop believing in yourself when that same person, that same situation, just with a bit of kindness could just help you see your potential and nurture that and I think part of that is, styles and, time, culture over

Mital:

I think how things changed a little bit.

Danny:

You must've been gutsy going back to college, having dropped out.

Mital:

Yeah. I think, for me that was a big move. And I remember at that time feeling rather, I mean, being amongst friends who were moving on and going to university at point, and then there's me still stuck at college, doing the same thing. there was a certain level of shame and embarrassment that came with that. So later on, I had to work on that, to do some deep inner work, to sort of work through things like that as well, those emotions and feelings. But certainly, it was a tough decision to make, because it was ingrained in me and it wasn't just that one comment. It was that comment and other several things over time that that teacher did, that made me feel that particular way. and so yeah, when you do help your friends move on and doing different things, and you're kind of like stuck there, that was when I believe my mindset work, really started to kick in and that's when my resilience really started to build up, and that's where my natural interest in that sort of energetic field. And that kind of dare, I say, spiritual field started to, come in. And that's why I really feel that, my purpose, my work that I do is of that nature because we're working with children, we're working with energies, we're working with these individuals who, we need to raise their vibrations. And this is the way I can do it is through my work.

Danny:

So Mital you grew up in Leicester. Is that right?

Mital:

Absolutely. Yeah. Leicester born and bred.

Danny:

born and bred. So you're born there and your parents born in Leicester?

Mital:

So, no, actually, so my parents, my father, he was born in Uganda and my mum was born in Kenya. So they were from east Africa and originally my grandparents, they were all from, from India and then they migrated to, east Africa. That was a very interesting story in, I think in terms of education and the culture behind education, especially within the Indian population, it's held in high regard and that's, I believe it's to do with, the sort of migration from one country to another. And the fact that they want to sort of climb up the socioeconomic ladder and that's sort of built in you sort of intrinsically, from day one. My father, unfortunately, his whole family actually was separated, at one point some were in India, some were in Uganda, some were in the UK. And that was as a result of the Idi Amin regime. fortunately, in the end my father was able to come into the UK. he met my mom and, they got married and that's how it's, all gone. I find the whole East African, Indian, sort of story really, really interesting, and that the story of entrepreneurial-ism, and also, the ability to sort of hold education in high regard as well. it's a common theme that I've been finding amongst the East African Asians in

Danny:

Yeah. I, I know a few East African Asians, actually Kenyan Indian Kenyan descent. and yeah, that, and my own family are also from Africa, but on route. So African kind of migrants and, yeah, it gives you a different sense of perspective to several generations of the UK, living in a very social state and welfare and support. And if you fall on hard times then there's an NHS to help you out, and there's a free school system and all those other things, so it helps you put a different value, a different perspective on things. So that's really cool. Well, let's start by thanking Anne, the teacher that saw the light within you, which is absolutely fantastic. And so were you out of school for a year or.

Mital:

Yeah, so about year I was.

Danny:

You lost one academic year.

Mital:

yeah, and then I went back in, and, I went back into a different college and it wasn't a sixth form. It was actually a further education college. So back in the day, there was a bit of a stigma

Danny:

Yeah, for

Mital:

that. gosh, you go to an FE, you know, that was this. Oh, you're going there. Yes. I'm going there. So there was that attached to it as well as, oh gosh, like essentially you're retaking and you're having to still stay there. But I'm grateful. Yeah. I got into university of Leicester.

Danny:

I was going to say, then you got into your hometown university. Um, and did your chemistry degree there

Mital:

Yeah. So actually I did my degree in physiology and pharmacology. So there was a lot of chemistry and biology, yeah. Some physics involved in that as well. Now when I look back, I just wish I'd had just done straight chemistry, but at the same time, I love the fact that I was able to access some really great modules, which were based on the mind, the brain neuroplasticity. And that's the stuff that I'm naturally interested in now, you know, well, the Dr. Joe Dispenza stuff, and that's that it's right up my street, you know? For me, I thought that those modules were really inspiring. And then the idea that, our brain is plastic, that we have this infinite potential of, of creating neurons and connections. We have the ability to build new neurons based on experiences. And that made me think about, okay. linking it back to mindfulness and mindset and things like that, the habits that we form and that we create. For me, that made a lot of sense and that's why I really enjoyed that aspect of the degree as well as all the chemistry don't get me wrong. Chemistry it's the best subject in the world. Nothing will ever beat Chemistry.

Danny:

Fantastic, and then did you work as a teacher for a period as well?

Mital:

Yeah. So it was in my final year, this was, this was, I mean, there's, there's a couple of stories here in my final year at university of Leicester. I got a couple of opportunities. One was that I was, picked to do my dissertation, based on education and teaching science in a school and I did my dissertation on assessment for learning. So even before I started my PGCE, so that's your post-graduate certificate in education. Before I even started that, I felt that I got a really good understanding of the educational sphere and in particular assessments and how to assess children, and how to get the best out of them. So I did my dissertation on that and I was fortunate enough to actually go into schools and conduct my research and it was brilliant. I just wanted to teach, so I remember sort of saying to one of the teachers, do you mind if I cover half of your lesson? And he was like, yeah, go for it.

Danny:

Yeah. Less work for me.

Mital:

Yeah. Do that. And, and I did, and it was just like, this is brilliant. This, I love this. It was great. I remember I did, my first ever lesson was actually teaching It wasn't even chemistry. It was actually teaching them about the heart and the anatomy of the heart, that was really, really interesting. So that was my roots. I knew, right, PGCE, did that at the University of Nottingham, and the reason why I chose Nottingham at that time was because they did something called a graduate training program, which for me was, a better route to take rather than the PGCE route. And there was a reason for that, the back of my mind, even when I was doing my undergraduate degree I had my old chemistry teacher saying to me still can't do it. Yeah. So I, although I overcome my sort of fears with chemistry and biology and maths. I self-taught myself, English language A-level. So I did four. And then even then I had this sort of thought at the back of my mind that, you still can't do it. So do you know what? Don't go down the pure academic route of the PGCE But when I look back at that whole situation, I think when I reflect on it and I've journaled on it as well, what came about was I still had that seed of doubt in my mind that said you can't d it. Even though you, you managed to get your A levels, you managed to do well in your degree. You're still not an academic at the heart of it. I was getting all that test anxiety, exam, anxiety. I dealt with it at the time, but now I can really understand and relate to the students that we teach, when they turn around and say like I'm really stressed out about these exams and most of the time, it's because they've got this fear of, they can't do it. And so it's working on the, I can't do it, bit, and making it to I can do it. And so for me, that brought me to my MBA many years later, actually doing the MBA. But, after I did my PGCE, I worked in schools for a number of years and I loved it. So I became a qualified teacher of science. I was fortunate enough to teach some amazing kids up to GCSE science and also teach them A-level chemistry. I had amazing mentors as well, who really helped shape my teaching philosophy. And I thought that was really, really important, mentorship is extremely important. There was something that was happening at the same time. So whilst I was doing my undergraduate degree, when I was writing my dissertation obviously, naturally took a bit of a break whilst I was in the library writing my dissertation. and I was walking in the foyer and, I saw an advert come up on the board and the advert was about starting up your own business and you can get 2,000 pound funding for it. Now, if I set the scene a little bit more whilst I was doing my, uh, physiology and pharmacology degree, I was still working at the bank, at the bank call center. So all that time, I managed to still keep my part-time jobs. And they got to a point where the 2008 recession hit. So when the 2008 recession hit, there were cuts and all sorts of stuff. So I decided, okay, Right. My time's up now, um, at the bank. I got told my time was up at the bank as well. And then I thought, wow, what am I going to do? So, at that point, just a couple of months before I'd purchased a car, okay. It's my first car. It was my Vauxhall Corsa and I bits, but it was an absolute banger of a car and it would fall apart. Everything that you could imagine would go wrong with it. I mean, there was one point I was driving around and the engine just fell off. I mean, you know, it's just, it's ridiculous. my justification was, I am in, I'm in Leicester. I live in Leicester, so I should have a car so I could drive to university and be really cool. Right. anyway, I thought, well, okay, now I don't have a job. What do I need to do? And so I sat there and I thought, right, I need to leverage my skills. What skills do I have. Okay, let me try tutoring. And do you know what I'm gonna tutoring chemistry cause Anne really boosted me up at that point. So I was like, I'm going to tutor chemistry

Danny:

So hold on. So you were you were still in contact with Anne?

Mital:

No. So this is like, so this is a couple of years after. Yeah. But Anne's, Anne's had a lasting impression on

Danny:

yeah, so you've got an on one shoulder and you've got this other guy on the other shoulder and they're there. You're okay. They're whispering in your ear all the

Mital:

The, they're whispering in my ear all the time. So then I thought, right, well, how can I leverage that? I think that's where my entrepreneurial spirit started to kick in. Essentially I went home that night and I made these flyers on Word who makes flyers on Word And I printed out a whole load. I remember I went round our estate. and then a whole lot of other estates, I think in, total, my first batch, there was about 3000 homes. And then my second batch, 10,000 homes, I couldn't afford to pay somebody to deliver my leaflets at that time. So I did it myself over the summer. This just demonstrates the poor quality of my marketing because out of all of those leaflets I had only one person calling me, right?

Danny:

Oh my goodness.

Mital:

One person called me to say

Danny:

I'd have been worried. What if I got a call by a thousand people, but I mean, that's a good problem to have clearly, but oh my goodness.

Mital:

My marketing skills are terrible at that point. It was exactly. Should have used powerpoint

Danny:

it.

Mital:

Exactly. And then that one parent, I still am in contact with them today. I've taught their children, since they were the age of eight, they're now optometrists one's an actuarist. Um, that, yeah, really they're doing so well. They then recommended me to, other parents than other parents started talking about it. So it was more word of mouth. one client turned into 10, 10 turned into like sort of 20, 20 turned into 30. And I was like, wow. Okay. So I'm trying to do my degree and I'm trying to

Danny:

of course, you're still doing your degree at this

Mital:

Yeah. Still doing my degree, helping the kids. So I was like, gosh, there's gotta be a way of going about this. And then when I saw that advert, I was like, Hmm, this sounds good. This sounds good. And that night I should have really been writing my dissertation, but I actually, I decided to submit a business plan, and so I sat there all night writing this business plan up and essentially turning it into not one-to-one tutoring, but a group tutoring, service. And I pitched that, it was to a company that still offers amazing grants to start ups, Accord Unlimited. And it was through the university of Leicester that was able to, to achieve that and get 2000 pounds. And that's how the story of my company now, Spark Academy, was born. So spark academy was born as a result of that, and that was through university of Leicester and the support that they provided as well. So I'm always very grateful to them for that.

Danny:

We speak to a lot of people with purpose and they are mentoring and they are coaching and they are advising and it's realizing the enormous stories that grow out of one interaction. You know, one, one, 2000 in real terms, not an enormous grant, but one, 2000 pound grant, didn't it wasn't just about the cash, but it was about triggering that thought that what can I do? And here's someone to actually support my idea and I'm going to create a business plan. It's fantastic. It's really cool, being able to grow all of that?

Mital:

Yeah. And now, we're serving so many kids, and we're able to help children, not only in Leicester, but we're to open it out online across the UK. we've got a global tech partner on board with what we're doing. it's wonderful to see, you know, when I look back, you know, at that time, you know, that 2000 pounds has made such a difference. We've taught over about 5,000 kids now, It's such an impact on their lives. we're doing an alumni series with our kids, so we're interviewing a lot of our kids now, It was so beautiful to see during the pandemic you know, a lot of the kids that we've taught? And that I taught personally, now sort of working frontline on the NHS, they were doing their bit, they're absolutely phenomenal and I'm just like, wow. that's what that 2000 pound funding did. It allowed to create better futures. It allowed to improve lives and ultimately improve the world that we live in. Right. These individuals are changing the world that we live in and then making an impact to so many people around them. And that's what drives me. Absolutely. Every single day.

Danny:

And that's why they call it seed funding. Isn't it? That you just plant that seed and then off you go. So how long ago was that Mital?

Mital:

So that was, I believe in 2011, that we got funding for that. And that's when, I decided to put a huge deposit down for a rental space, on a high street and it just grew from there. And then in 2013, so I was still working in school at this particular point as a teacher. It got to a point where, and this was a pivotal moment for me. I was working seven days a week, so I was doing my Monday to Friday teaching, in school then straight after work, I would then go to the centers and teach the kids there at Spark.

Danny:

Hm.

Mital:

And I was doing that. Literally Monday to Friday and then Saturday mornings sat. No, I'd be teaching till about five on Saturday and then on Sunday mornings. I was getting incredibly tired, although I was, I was young. I was energetic. I think I was moving at such a pace that, one Easter, I remember coming home with, a pile of marking this high and that's from school. And then I had a pile of marking this high and I love marking and I love providing my kids feedback. But it got to a point where I was like, whoa, I can't do this. And I remember I had a bit of a meltdown, you know, I sort of broke down. I was like, I can't. I think my perfectionism and things like that, started to kick in. And I was like, well, am I able to serve these kids the best way I possibly can right now, am I able to give them all my energy. And I felt like I wasn't able to do that. And I think I had to make a choice at that particular point in time. Do I want to continue working in school or do I want to actually now, focus in on Spark and what we're doing there and at Spark, it was very holistic. There was a holistic academic, there's the whole sort of wellbeing stuff. I like evolution in learning theories. And I like sort of thinking about, bringing in new age concepts, into learning. I feel sometimes, that the educational system, I think teachers are doing an amazing job in schools. I just feel that they're so restricted, with what they can do. And I think that frustrated me because I thought this is so old, some of the methodologies are so old, we have to move with the times, move with the actual climate that we're in, the kids are different, the needs are different. And I just felt that the educational system wasn't catching up to that. And so I decided in 2013 to leave. And at which point I remember I was having this discussion with my father. We were driving down, a main road on, in Leicester. It's called Melton Road. so Belgrave road going into Melton Road, that's the golden mile, as people would know it, and I saw a property for sale at that particular point on the main stretch. And I said to dad, I said, dad, do you think. Well, doesn't that? I don't know. There's something about that property. I just want to, can I book a viewing? What do you think? my dad's very, he's a risk taker. Um, so he loves taking risks. and he's very much like, yes, do it. You know, he's, he's one of those guys, if you put your mind to anything, you can achieve anything, you know. So we went to view the property and, it was terrible, honestly, like it looked, it looked like a real, it looked like a right shambles, but, I just saw so much potential in it and I was like, I could see, this would be great as a classroom, that'd be great as a reception area. And, I thought that would be really lovely, for like sort of a well-being reading corner. That'd be beautiful for that. And I was like, okay. So if that's what you want to do, you've got to make it happen. So what are you going to do to make it happen? And so obviously I had to give my notice in at school. and then I decided, right, I'm gonna, I'm going to purchase this property. And that was one of the biggest decisions I made. Taking on a huge mortgage and then on top, you know, just pinning all my dreams and aspirations into that. there's some scary stories that go with it. there was a time where, no one walked through the door, it was hard, that initial period, but fortunately, more and more people started to come in and word got out and, it was wonderful. And I think those first six months of me opening up the center on, Melton road. I think really tested my wellbeing and my resilience. It was one of the hardest things I think I've ever, I think I've ever gone through. because it was that uncertainty of w, will it work? Will it not work? But I think, when you're in that sort of position, you go to that point where you're like, right, I'm gonna do everything it takes to make this work, to make this happen. and I did, I just fought and it worked fortunately,

Danny:

you start by, your teaching and tutoring and you're about to have a meltdown or have a meltdown, whichever way it goes. And you think I know what I'll do take on more risk, more work, just because I really want to get to that meltdown. Okay.

Mital:

yeah.

Danny:

I mean, obviously what you did is, is immerse yourself, full-time into tutoring, but and then decided to kind of grab it. And at that point, were you the only tutor? Did you have staff? Do you have volunteers?

Mital:

Yeah. So it was, it was myself and there was a couple of tutors who work sort of part-time now we've got a great team. There's about seven of us in our team that worked full time. So the model of our tutoring has changed significantly since back in the day. It was interesting to say the least there was a lot of learnings that I had to take. And I think naturally what happened to me at that particular moment in time was okay, right, yeah. I've got that entrepreneurial spirit. Yes. I've come from a science background, but do I actually, do I actually understand business academically, do I get that, and I think it was that realization for me that, I mean, I did from 2013 to about 2017, I think my entrepreneurial spirit got me to that particular point. But then when I was looking to sort of hope to achieving scale and growth and that sort of thing, I thought, right, I need to view things from a different perspective. I need to be around people that are going to be able to, help me see things objectively, and maybe sort of help me with my blue sky thinking. And I think that was what really sparked this whole idea of doing the MBA. So.

Danny:

of Leicester.

Mital:

Exactly. So there was two things that sparked it. One was right. There's only so far my entrepreneurial spirit will take me, second was right Mital. Now that you've been doing all your energy work and your internal work and working through all your sort of feelings and emotions surrounding, you know, your previous, experiences as being a student, here you are teaching these kids and helping them on their journey, but have you really helped yourself? Have you faced your fears? Have you done that? And that's why I think, for me it was right let me do this MBA. Let me do it. It's a two and a half year course. It's absolutely scary.

Danny:

So you did a part time,

Mital:

I did it part-time two and a half years. and it was distance learning and there was a bit of blended learning involved as well. So there was ability to go on campus for masterclasses and things like that. that was another scary decision that I made because I was trying to make sure that I was still running the organization, and at the same time, ensuring that I'm spending enough time on the MBA itself. I think it was one of the, honestly, for me, the best things I've ever done in my life. It helped me face my fears, the subjects that I was most scared of, the finance, the economics, the accounting, became my best subjects as they do. I don't know. It seems to be a theme in my life. Everything that I'm scared of tends to, it turns out to be like the stuff I love the most. I was around the most phenomenal people, I think I had a little bit of imposter syndrome initially. It was like, oh, there's little old me from Spark Academy, and then there's these big guys, you know, who working for like Coca-Cola Johnson, Johnson, Yamaha, you know, and these massive companies. And you're like, so what do I have to bring to the table? And it was only after, one of my, one of my peers said to me, Mital, you've got a completely different perspective, you know, large organizations are looking for that, that sort of energy. That's more like it's small companies have, And I actually, I learned so much from that process and at the same time, I was able to refine my learning methodology over that whole period of time, which I call the SQ5RE model. and that's what helped me get my distinction. But the learning that I had from everyone around me was I think the most valuable thing, helping me see things from a very different perspective and helping me think bigger actually, that's what was important to me. but at the same time, getting that distinction and then getting the award as well, for the MBA student of the year, not only sort of, ah, thank you. I cried, I that It was for me, my journey in education came round full circle It's that feeling of you're preaching one thing, but can you actually do that? And so me putting myself through the MBA was a way of me saying, I'm going to face my fears. I'm going to do that, gonna go through the exam process. I overcame that whole test anxiety, overcame that whole idea of, am I worthy enough of being here? You know, all those things, little things that have built up over your life. And now I'm ready to share my methodology with so many more kids and inspire them even more to achieve what they want. So that's why I wrote my book, Study like this, not like that, which is, all about my SQ5RE model, and it's about saying to kids that it is possible. For me, my aim was just to get that distinction. but then I surpassed my own perceived, potential. And That's what I want kids to feel that they can do. If you have the right guidance by you, you can achieve exactly whatever it is that you want. And that's what I want all of our kids to have and feel.

Danny:

That's really lovely. when people think of tutoring, they'll tend to think about, and I might be wrong here, but you tend to think about the kids from families with high disposable incomes. So the kids that are coming to Spark Academy, have they already got a, a good start in life or have you got a real diverse group there and how do you cater those different communities?

Mital:

So when I first set out Spark for me, social entrepreneurism is for me, that's the most important bit. I want to make an impact on society. Climbing up the socioeconomic ladder for me is really important, and I think that's ingrained in me, you know, from, from cultural viewpoint. My parents, when they came to this country, they had nothing, and they had to work for it. I just think if I'm offering a service, I want to make sure it's affordable, and that's why the group tutoring model is affordable for parents, but at the same time, with group tutoring, um, you know, kids can use each other as resources. You know, they can be inspired by one another. They can ask questions. They can, you know, they can learn from one another. So that's what we do. We make sure we keep it as affordable as possible, and actually the interesting thing is that majority of the children that come to us are not from high disposable income backgrounds. They're from, backgrounds where, they value a hard work ethic and they want to, push up the grades and, get the opportunities that, they really want out of life. And sometimes, even though they are really like really affordable, there are some parents that might not feel that way. even though in the grand scheme of things and the tutoring market, we are the most affordable, but for them, that's a big deal, you know? I see in their eyes and I know I can, I can see it that, they're really investing heavily into their children's future, parents do so much to give their children what they, they couldn't have. So yes, we give tutoring, right. But it's more than that with us. We cover mindset, we really help kids sort of think about, goal setting, visualization. We look at, what sort of lifestyle they want to lead because a lot of the kids, they're not really sure about where they want to go in the future. So the way we coax it out of them, we're saying, okay, so what sort of lifestyle is it that you want to lead? Because they know that they're clear, they're clear about that, they know they want the Gucci belt, they want the Lamborghini, they want all of those things right. So what we do is we get them to dream big and then we say, right, okay, let's work backwards, and then we come up with actionable plans with them. So we run classes called transformative life skills, which is a part of the program. It's part of what we offer. we also go through something called metacognition, which is all about thinking about thinking. So we're very heavily involved in that we do a lot of metacognition diagnostics. We like to sort of understand where the roadblocks are in kids' learning, so we do a diagnostic so we can actually understand what motivates them, what doesn't motivate, how best they like to learn, and we really sort of advocate this idea of multisensory learning because you know, this idea of, I am just a visual learner or I am just auditory, you know, that doesn't exist, it's so old school thinking, the fact is that, okay, we might like one more than the other, but we need all of those things. That's, that's why I always, my philosophy is this, we give more and we want to give more, always. And so it's not just the normal tutoring program. It means working on your child holistically as a whole.

Danny:

Brilliant. Mital you mentioned you also have a podcast, the career crowd podcast. Tell us a little bit about that.

Mital:

Absolutely. So, oh, the career crowd podcast has been really fun. It came, uh, as a result of my cousin, actually my cousin Nam, he, he contacted me and he said, Mital, I've been having a chat with his friends, John and Ian. John is an engineer. he's a doctor as well as he's got his PhD in engineering, and then we've got Ian who has done his MBA, and he's project manager and they were having discussions about careers and that the lack of careers education out there. There's not a lot of careers education now for children, like back in the day, there used to be connection services and all sorts of really good stuff out there, to help guide kids through the careers journey. the viewpoint that Ian and John was coming from was actually, after you've graduated and when you're trying to sort of develop your career further, I don't think there's enough out there to sort of speak about it and, and, and sort of educate. So I decided to join Ian and, and John, and so we started the career crowd, podcast, back in February. We've done our own sort of, episodes where we've talked about the impact of the pandemic on careers and, the workplace, we've, also spoken about happiness in the workplace. So we actually had a Chief Happiness Officer, uh, attend the podcast. It was absolutely amazing actually, I think its such a cool job role. we had, Raj Mader come up and he was, talking about, our financial mindset and what good looks like to us. And I thought that that was a really interesting viewpoint. So we've been having some really great discussions and, last week we actually recorded the final episode for the first season. It's been great. And I think, they've done such a great job. we've all been working remotely, Ian and them lot are in Cardiff and Bristol and I I'm in Leicester. So we're just trying to manage it, as we're going along, but it's been fantastic.

Danny:

Well, that's a novel concept that a podcast can have an ending. I thought I've got to keep doing this for the rest of my life. So I just need to call it series one and then take last episode, right? Is

Mital:

that's it. That's it. That's all you need to do.

Danny:

I'm going to bear that in mind one day. That's fantastic. And where can people find out more about Mital Thanki, the Spark Academy, your book, your podcast, where should people go? And we'll put all the links in the show notes as well.

Mital:

Absolutely. Well, you can connect with me freely on LinkedIn, so just search for Mital Thanki. You can visit our website, which is spark-academy.co.uk and on there you'll have access to the stuff that we do. There's a link to our book as well. Study like this, Not like that. And some great resources available as well on there for education. For the podcast, of course, um, were on all major platforms, as well as on Google, Spotify, Apple as well. So Yeah. Check us out.

Danny:

Excellent, thank you, Mital, and thank you also to your other cousin, Sai, who put us in contact with each other

Mital:

I know, she's fantastic.

Danny:

So thank you Sai, I hope you're listening to this and, thank you very much for being a guest on the Sondership podcast.

Mital:

Brilliant. Thank you so much for having me, Danny. Thank you. When I was awarded, MBA student of the year I remember saying my speech doing my thing, and then soon as the camera came off me, I literally burst into tears because it was this whole, energy. And then the, the worst thing was right Mital, would love you to come back on. And there's my mascara running down my face. But it was, it was for me, a soul lesson, a life lesson.

Danny:

There we go. Cue music.

Mital:

Yeah.

Danny:

How was that?

Mital:

Awesome. I thought it was wonderful, you made me feel really comfortable, Danny, thank you so much.

Mital Thanki

Founder, CEO

Mital is a qualified teacher of science with chemistry specialism since 2009, and the founder and CEO of Spark Academy - a tutoring service which specialises in holistic and academic provision for maths, English & science. In addition, Mital is MBA qualified and recently was awarded the MBA Student of the Year Award- a global award out of 20,000 students. Mital is an
award-winning business woman, Chartered Certified Manager, University board member, podcaster and author. She's active in the charity space, passionate about life-long learning and spreading the love of learning far and wide!
Mital believes she is creating a legacy that inspires future generations to become the best version of themselves, supporting them to discover, accomplish and surpass their own perceived potential.