Interview with Shailesh Pillai
An IGCSE/AS/A Level/IB (MYP/SL/HL) Maths & Stats Teacher,
Life Skills Trainer & Certified Emotions Mastery Coach
Q1. Please share your educational and professional journey with us?
I come from a family of academicians, my dad was an Electronics Professor & being the eldest son was expected to follow certain rules and regulations. I used to assist my dad when he had his electronic classes at home. So had learnt concepts of electronics, resistors, ICs etc since childhood. So logics were built strong, I remember I probably was in grade 7 when I told my dad today we finished electricity and my dad told this summer vacation we would be changing the wiring of the house & I had done it. Mom used to take tuitions at home, so had kids; reach me out for help and so my academic journey started.
I was good with Academics, but during my school days it was kind of rote learning & I was developing as a logical person, interested in research. As I reached grade 7 Mathematics, it happened to be my night mare as the content was too much to prepare or revise just before the exams. I remember I used to get Asthma attacks before Maths exams. During one of the PTMs (Parent Teachers Meetings) I remember a Bengali teacher who used to teach us Mathematics told my mother about my lack of focus as I was not scoring well in Mathematics.
My mother had tears in her eyes that day, I decided I had to change the scenario. That summer vacation when we visited our native, I spoke to my elder brothers and sisters in Kerala who were extremely good in academics & learnt that Maths is very important and I have to somehow make it my strength going forward.
I got back and started condensing all Math concepts, and started my formulae file, although the name is such it is much more, it has all different concepts & types of sums etc.
One of brother who understood that I am gaining interest in Mathematics gifted me a book Quantitative Aptitude by R. S. Agrawal. I started solving it for fun & started getting better. I soon understood Math is not like any other subject, there is a continuity that needs to be maintained, so it is more like a sport. I took over Math tuitions from my mom and started sharing my understanding and tricks to students. This laid my foundation as a Teacher.
I started travelling within my cousin’s place teaching them Mathematics, I was teaching my colleagues from my own class & then the students who came to my place were my followers obviously. I promoted that I am good in Mathematics and then it happened to be true, so my revision was happening as I was teaching others & I enjoyed it.
Q2. What did attract you towards Maths/Statistics and teaching as a career?
Although my foundation as a teacher was laid at my own home as both my parents were teachers & I liked to raise the expectation of my elders and hit those expectations, I had experienced some good teachers not just academically. First to begin was my mom who was a Keralite and was taking tuitions for all subjects she was teaching us and simultaneously helping kids in our area. She had to even taught Marathi which she had never learnt, she learnt with us and taught them so I got to know it is not the content but the compassion and care that students want from you.
Knowledge wise she could never match my school’s Marathi Teacher, but she checked with our neighbors or relatives who were brought up in Mumbai and gave us solution. So intention is the key aspect of a teacher I realized. Further, as I got good in Mathematics, I cleared all entrances but never liked a government job as I had seen my dad suffering with government jobs as if the boss who may not be as smart or knowledgeable but because he can be in good books by various means stole all my dad’s credit. I also cleared SSB on merit and went to AFSB (Airforce Selection board) in Mysore but had no guidance so in practical I could not clear.
Further in my graduation I had topped my college in my 1st year of B.Sc (PMS: Physics, Maths & Stats). I got to be really good in Stats as I had a very good teacher from Pune. As I had topped and was awarded in front of my parents and it was a traditional day in my college, I was wearing typical south Indian attire and went to collect the prize and I got to know I had won various prizes in all events that year, that got the attention of the Vice Principal of the college Ms. Kamala Arunachalam. She called me to her office next day and told that she was happy that a silent student who was not much noticed out shined many & she would like to focus on me and would like me to participate in all inter collegiate events.
She encouraged me to participate in D.B Wagh Quiz conducted by D.G. Ruparel College, Mathematics Workshops by IIT Bombay. I represented the college at Mathematics seminar and went National level. So that was step further as a Teacher. My 1st year seminar was on Magical calendar, where I got a calendar for 10 years which I researched and extended for infinity and made two C programs on it. 2nd Seminar that went national level was on Tesselations, renowned Professors started coming to see my seminars from Mithibhai college and various other colleges.
Further 3rd year it was on Geometry of our Universe, I got this topics from a college magazine `Mathematics Today’ and I remember the article was written P.C. Vaidya, I had wrote my doubts to him and he answered it back to me addressing my college with all the thesis of his research.
My principal handed over it to me in the assembly telling that’s true learning. So I had learnt the art of learning & had got enough platforms to showcase my skill sets. Further I went to IIT Bombay where I met Dr. Inder Kumar Rana, who has an amazing passion for Mathematics he has a site math4all.in that he developed later but I was awestruck with the kind of knowledge my Professor carried, my constant interaction lead to horning my skills sets as a teacher!
I am still in touch with all my teachers and share with them my progress & I owe a large part of my success to them, who inspired me.
Q3. What is importance of Life Skills in a life of any person? Is it useful to start work on these skills from the very beginning of career?
As a Mathematics and Statistics student, I had gathered all data and analyse it and model it for future usage. I have developed a 5 step rule called GRASS. You can check it on my website www.grassmosis.com
G: Getting along with right people
So life Skills are so very important, more importantly because if we see some gaps in our personality it is a nature’s way of telling us to bridge the gap. So we do that by learning and developing expertise in various skills.
Your presentation skills, your writing skills, your technical skills all come later but your attitude the way you look at a problem as an opportunity to excel in life.
Note that only a rough road shows demands for a highly skilled driver, else on a straight road the vehicle can run on autopilot mode.
These life Skills mentioned are very basic life skills I had identified at a very beginning of my life and while working for charity got these refined as I was into training people.
Q4. How do you excel students in their academics and career prospective?
Leonardo da Vinci says that `Iron rusts from disuse, water loses it purity from stagnation, even so the inaction sap the vigour of the mind’. So action is the most important thing, but under guidance from seniors. When the student is ready the teacher arrives, so then try things they did and what the things they didn’t do to succeed enough.
So with all the inputs one can plan the route to success, with several checkpoints by different people who keep on inspiring you.
ASK is the best thing to do A: Always with the right Attitude , S: Seek, K: Knowledge, there are so many people ready to teach you, are you ready to indulge and take it forward.
Q5. Which one thing do you want to change in yourself and why?
I had been creating my contacts, I want to be able to use my contacts more effectively for benefitting the youth even further.
Q6. You are a founder of Networthz. What kind of service do you provide at your venture?
I always treat my students as future professionals, so I am creating my own market. I empower them in their core areas, with my systems not by duplicating them but rather helping them figure it out themselves by showing them my approach to the problem. They might have a better approach so I can learn too!
Q7. You had both academic and business development/sales experience in your career. Which one do you like most and why?
The biggest business is the business of creating partners, products have a shelf life but people who are trained by the right ethics are going to make their presence felt in which ever domain they are in.
Q8. Tell us about one of the moments which changed your perspective towards life?
Academics is not everything, I thing sports, music, arts, finance & other social skills are equally important. As a decent academician, when I entered business development, I learnt that life is much beyond academics. Sufficiently making mistakes but not giving up & standing for what you believe in, has helped me groom my personality. Sometimes we are wanting to run a big business but most times if you are really skilled the field will chase you wherever you go.
Like in my case, I was cut out to be a Teacher/ Trainer, so I was always drawn into this profile. I rather even told my dad that I don’t want to be teacher as I thought Happiness was just making money, and I did move out into Charity with CRY, corporates, sales and business development. I was into International Real Diamond Jewelry handling clients like JC Penny, Andin, Fabrikant, Walmart for the 2nd largest exporter in India TARA Jewels.
I learnt people management, order processing, excel, grade diamonds, crisis management, got really creative starting a Repair Cell to process the incomplete orders for the payment that was stuck and expediting the orders through regular follow up and relationships. But I think after learning the process, I found myself a misfit, did several other things like worked with CRY charity for resource mobilization, DELL, Norton in Sutherland, Pharma sales with FOURRTS India Pvt Ltd, Business Development for Recruitment and head-hunting organizations, in all these domains I always felt I had a different calling.
So I think more than Academics, the effort to prove myself in whichever field that I had been have changed me or proved to be a turning point . I made it a point that I am learning from different field and bringing to the platter for the future professionals who want to learn from me.
Q9. Which one skill do you like most about yourself?
I am farsighted & persistent. I like to solve problems and simplify both in real life and IN Mathematics. I can train learners about the right attitude that they need to carry in any situation.
Like in my house my wife should not say that Salt has got over, she should rather ask me to buy some salt. Something getting over is negative Vs Requiring to buy is positive. So I am extremely positive, spiritual & follows my system religiously. So nature now helps me to get the work done. I am a great follower of Law of Attraction and I have been attracting everything I wanted & manifested. I have drawn a picture of Mount Fuji in the year 2001 while I was admitted in hospital for Pneumonia, when I was working as a workaholic Math Teacher for the largest school in Thane District then. And in 20years I am in that country watching Mt. Fuji daily!
I treat my students as my future professionals whom I am teaching the art of learning and excelling in whatever field they are in. As lot of teacher/ trainer teaches ‘what‘ but how to do it is generally missed by many which is my strength of teaching. My website which is still under development: www.grassmosis.com
Get more about Shailesh Pillai @
Twitter: @ spillai_CEB
Skype Id: shaileshpillai
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org (Personal)