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Impact 0298: Making educational and career guidance more accessible

Aaditya Tibarewala · 21 December 2021
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Aaditya Tibarewala is an alumnus of Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) with a deep interest in business, finance and entrepreneurship. His passion for these fields has motivated him to explore them at a young age. 

Seeing a gap in the career guidance and college counselling industry, Aaditya founded KB Consulting, Singapore’s premier student-focused consultancy, with the aim of making educational and occupational guidance accessible for everyone.

Could you tell us more about the work KB Consulting does?

In our short operation span, we have worked with clients as young as 11 years old to those in their mid-twenties. Our focus has always been this: delivering solutions to our clients’ unique needs – be it crafting a roadmap to an Ivy League university or gaining insights into a particular industry they are interested in.

Our clients have responded positively to our approach, which focuses on making educational and occupational guidance accessible. KB Consulting helps students experiencing challenges and obstacles similar to those we encountered not too long ago. We aspire to flatten the learning curve students face by advising them based on our experience. 

Our team comprises young and dynamic individuals who work with industry mentors, allowing students and parents to benefit from relevant, updated information regarding each industry. The pedigree of our team has helped assure parents as we guide their children.

Furthermore, our team focuses on building relationships with our students. This allows us to engage in meaningful dialogue to better understand and serve their needs.

You started a CSR campaign called “Help Nepal Breathe”. Could you share more about this experience?

As the pandemic’s deadly second-wave was slowing down globally, Nepal’s cases were spreading faster than almost anywhere else in the world. Daily cases in Nepal were rising so rapidly that in May 2021, Nepal was reporting more cases per million of the virus than India. Following the halt of Indian exports to Nepal, vaccination efforts also came to a halt in Nepal as the healthcare system struggled to cope.

Having grown up in Nepal, I knew I needed to make a difference regardless of my personal capacity.  Each day, I received news of someone’s demise in Nepal, some even younger than me. Learning that all three generations of a family known to us had passed away due to COVID-19 was devastating. 

In a bid to make an impact, we partnered up with Hami Nepal, a non-profit in Nepal that was one of the few working directly on the ground. We channelled our consulting revenue and facilitated a fundraiser that raised almost $2,000 for COVID-relief efforts in Nepal. 

Aside from this, I also worked with my sister, who’s in Nepal, on an information media project focused on disseminating credible information and resources to help people in Nepal. We compiled and shared lists of resources ranging from doctors providing teleconsultations to vendors supplying essentials like oxygen and ventilators.

I think the most fulfilling aspect of this came through an ex-teacher who shared that she could use our resources to help procure oxygen cylinders for a patient who was being transported to a hospital with no supply of oxygen. Although the impact we made may have been small, I was happy if I was able to help even a single individual in need.

Personally, what have you learnt on this journey of running KB Consulting?

It has honestly been the most insightful learning experience I could ever ask for. I am a believer in action-based learning as I learn best “on the job”. Looking back, I have sharpened certain skills like website design and marketing to leadership and communication. 

Interestingly, I had absolutely no idea how to do things like designing and developing a website until Iset myself the challenge of learning how to do so. As cliche as it may sound, each day is a new challenge that requires all of us to innovate and think outside the box.

With KB Consulting, I feel the immense responsibility we owe to our clients who have honoured us not only with their support for a small start-up but have also entrusted us with their futures. As our clients rely on our team to navigate a crucial journey in their lives, we all need to carry this responsibility well. At the same time, it is immensely gratifying to be part of a bigger picture as we strive to make a change to make quality guidance accessible to the masses.

Furthermore, the opportunity to manage a team across three continents has also been an enriching experience. This has allowed me to personally understand the perspectives of others at a deeper level while looking out for their best interests. The best part about working with such a diverse and dynamic team is that I have had the opportunity to learn from each and every one of them. 

These experiences have particularly made me appreciate the importance of making mistakes since the only way to grow long-term is to continue to make mistakes while learning from them each step of the way.

Starting a business at a young age can be challenging. What would you like to say to all the future young entrepreneurs?

Being younger means that the learning curve is steep, and one has to be prepared to face the roller coaster of emotions. One day you may wake up full of optimism for what you are about to do. It could be a strategy that helps generate leads or a promising partnership deal that you have worked on for months. 

Similarly, there can be many lows, perhaps even more than highs, that cause you to question the mere notion of your ideas and strategies. But the key is consistency. I always believe in doing 1 per cent better each day.

While starting a business at any age is challenging, when you’re young, you have little to lose and more to experience. Starting young is one of the best things budding entrepreneurs can do. As teenagers or young adults, many of us have fewer responsibilities – whether financial or otherwise – which allows us to take a greater risk. 

Furthermore, we can channel our youthful energy into productivity as opposed to leisure alone. One should not be afraid of saying no to parties and friends to focus on their goals. Finding a healthy balance at a younger age will, in my opinion, help budding entrepreneurs set the tone for the rest of their careers and gain an edge over others. In fact, having something to celebrate after working hard has been far more rewarding for me than partying endlessly. 

Owing to having fewer responsibilities and taking more risks, young entrepreneurs also have the freedom to “go wild” with their imaginations. Worst case scenario: the business fails. Next step: dust yourself off, learn from the mistakes and move on to the next idea. 

All this youthful energy can allow us to experiment with our wildest ideas while learning in-action continually. I am a firm believer that learning-in-action is always more effective than learning theoretical concepts alone. 

It is, therefore, crucial to have a strong team. In reality, very few entrepreneurs succeed alone, no matter how well-versed they are in their fields. The biggest advantage you have of being a young entrepreneur is time, so my final advice would be to jump at the chance and learn first-hand what it takes.

Do you have any hobbies in the midst of running a business? What do you do in your spare time?

Back in secondary school, I used to be overweight and aspired to be fit. Therefore, I developed a profound interest in fitness to achieve my fitness goals. Particularly, the discipline needed to balance my commitments while also spending close to 16 hours a week at the gym back then, equipped me with the ability to plan and manage my time efficiently. To achieve my goals, in fitness or in business, discipline has played a profound role in my life. 

I have also been a car and watch enthusiast for years now. I grew an appreciation for the craftsmanship and engineering that goes into making each car and watch. I find myself inspired to continue my efforts with zeal so I can attain them one day of my own accord.

What were some defining moments of success for you in KB Consulting?

Our recent webinar was a significant highlight so far at KB Consulting as there were over 200 signups, which surpassed our expectations. Through the webinar, we shared strategies on how to prepare students’ applications for top universities in the United States, United Kingdom, and Singapore. 

Working on the event was stressful. However, the nights of preparing the slides and scripting materials paid off in the end. Many parents who attended the webinar contacted us afterwards and enquired about their children’s unique schooling situations. We hope that our platform will continue to address critical issues in students’ college applications and beyond.

Are there any new projects that you are currently working on or passionate about doing in the near future?

We are actively looking to bring our Financial Literacy Modules to more schools and communities in Singapore to benefit a broader range of students. We want to make a change in the way students learn, think about, and manage money and we believe in the impact that these modules could bring to students. 

While the quality of education in Singapore is impressive, the current syllabus, unfortunately, has significant gaps in addressing financial literacy. Fundamental concepts such as budgeting, expense management, and understanding investment vehicles will lay the foundational steps towards a financially stable life. 

So far, we have collaborated with an international school in Singapore to equip their students with the skills needed to better manage their finances. My team and I are hopeful of exposing students in Singapore to such pertinent topics at a larger scale in the near future.

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