Hanil Das, CEO, Westford University College, UAE

Westford Uni Online have a global presence, providing accredited higher education programmes. Hanil Das’ path to CEO was driven by a deep-rooted passion for education. Established in 2009 as Westford School of Management, the journey started with merely three employees and one Pearson programme. Inspired by the practical learning ethos of the British Higher Education system, the founding team and Das endeavoured to bring its finest attributes to the region, striving to make quality education accessible to all around the world.

As a CEO of a Higher Education institution what is your primary focus?

As the CEO of Westford, my primary focus centres on student success, academic excellence, and institutional advancement. But in today’s world, education is not just about getting a degree hence, fostering employability lies at the core of our mission at Westford. We are committed to preparing our students for the corporate world, ensuring they are well-equipped for career success.

In the post-Covid era, how did the popularity and acceptance of the online learning change the educational landscape?

The educational sector has seen drastic changes in the last couple of years. Traditional education was being challenged and a transformation was much overdue. But due to the Covid-19 pandemic the future arrived way ahead of time, abruptly and without invitation. Our strength was investing in online delivery way ahead of time. Westford, having pioneered online education for over a decade, was well prepared for this paradigm shift. Hence, when this shift happened, Westford’s popularity and trust amongst its learners only multiplied. Today, individuals globally have unprecedented access to education, with the click of a button, enabling them to enhance their qualifications and pursue success more readily than ever before.

State three advantages for an educational institute to collaborate with the industry.

As educators we believe just a classroom education is never enough to make true leaders, students must be exposed to industry experts and c- suite leaders. Collaborating with industry partners offers educational institutions numerous advantages. Firstly, it enhances curriculum relevance by incorporating real-world insights and industry best practices. Secondly, it fosters experiential learning opportunities such as internships, projects, and guest lectures, enriching students’ educational experiences. Finally, it facilitates career pathways and job placement opportunities for graduates, ensuring their readiness for the workforce. Some of our key collaborators this year includes internships and collaborations with companies like HCL, Alibaba and other leading corporations, providing hands-on experience.

What’s the vision of your institution as the UAE is becoming a global educational hub?

Westford envisions itself as a pioneering institution shaping the future of education in the UAE and beyond. In light of the UAE’s emergence as a global educational hub, our vision is to be a leading provider of innovative, industry-aligned higher education, empowering learners to excel in a rapidly evolving world. Westford currently has students from over 140 countries, it’s truly a global classroom experience.

In what ways should the curriculum for MBA programmes reflect the current and future needs of the business world?

Drawing from my experience, MBA programmes must be thoughtfully crafted to not only to address but also anticipate the ever-changing demands of the business world. Alongside foundational business principles, the curriculum should incorporate cutting-edge subjects such as digital transformation, sustainability, data analytics, AI, entrepreneurship, and global business trends. Priority should be given to nurturing leadership, critical thinking, and problem-solving abilities through experiential learning, industry partnerships, and case studies.

Westford’s MBA programmes are meticulously designed with these principles in mind, ensuring graduates are equipped with the agility, adaptability, and strategic insight necessary to thrive in today’s rapidly evolving global business environment.

What is the growth trajectory you have charted for your organisation over the next five years?

Over the next five years, we aim to expand our programme offerings, enhance our digital infrastructure, and strengthen our partnerships with industry and academic institutions. Additionally, we plan to increase our global footprint through strategic alliances and accreditation initiatives, positioning Westford University College as a premier destination for higher education.

Westford is committed to contributing to the growth of the UAE by producing skilled graduates who meet the demands of the local and global job markets. We prioritise industry relevance, entrepreneurship, and research to drive economic development and innovation in the region.