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Destiny Led Meena Athwani to the Top of Spain’s Foremost EFL Franchise

Meena Athwani, originally from Pune, India, is a joy to spend time with. An intriguing mixture of passionate spiritualism, bubbly intelligence and obvious love for what she does, has led Meena to climb the Helen Doron English franchise ladder to reach the top: National Coordinator for Spain.

Like many of the Helen Doron franchisee’s success stories, Meena didn’t plan to become involved with the international network at all. “I found Helen Doron when I was surfing the Net looking for courses for little children.  I had looked into various options, as I wanted to teach English, and kept hearing that I needed a degree in teaching children, but that’s not what I wanted, as I had already completed my university studies and it wasn’t in early education.”

In 2003 she was looking for courses and saw an ad for a Helen Doron English Teacher Training, so she called and spoke with one of the Master Franchisors in Spain. After asking a few questions, she made an important decision. “My destiny was right there!  I was on the right path and just one query took me there.”

“At that point, before that life-changing call, I had my own business importing garments from India. When my first son was born, I decided I wanted to change my lifestyle and closed that business. I had to travel a lot, and wanted a career that would support my staying home so that I could focus on my growing family.”

“I have always loved teaching and had experience teaching English to adults.  I have been teaching something ever since I was 17 years old, as well as running a business from that same age.  My father gave me a space and the keys and told me to do what I want with it. So, my brother, my cousin and I opened a boutique. Looking back, all of my work background has taken me to where I am today.”

When Meena was an established Helen Doron English teacher in Catalonia, her niece, Pamela, came to town for a visit.  “She heard what I was doing and she just flipped. She told me she really wanted to do this too.  I knew she would do a great job, so I paid for her training, and we rented a small place. This gave us the opportunity to test the market and see if we were doing the right thing. We found we were absolutely doing the right thing, and then in 2006, I was asked to become a Learning Centre Franchisee.  It went well and then in 2009, Anne Gordon, VP Business Development at Helen Doron Educational Group, asked me if I would like to become the Master Franchisor for Catalonia, and I said, ‘OK, why not?’”

“By 2013, we had three Master Franchisors in Spain and Anne offered me the position of National Coordinator for all of Spain.  As I said before, we each have a destiny marked out for us. If you follow your instinct, it takes you to the right place.”

“As of right now, we have a total of 118 teachers and over 5,000 students in all of Spain, and I am very proud of what we are accomplishing. We grow and grow, but the essence remains the same. We are proud and grateful to be part of our children’s future – not only do we teach them English, but we do it in an environment of happiness, nurturing the child’s self-esteem.”

“At every stage I make sure to learn from the best, and there are VERY VERY good people around to learn from in the Helen Doron network. You have ‘the bold and the beautiful’ and there are certain characteristics of some of the Master Franchisors that I SO admire and I try hard to emulate.  I learn from them and of course, I know I have to make my own mistakes. “

The National Coordinator’s confidence has evolved since moving into her first management role with the franchise. Meena continues her narrative: “I remember back when I signed my first Learning Centre franchisee and instead of celebrating, I became very serious.  Would I be a good Master Franchisor?  Will I be able to support her?   It took some time before I became fully confident in my role and realized that I had taken the right steps towards realizing my career and self-fulfillment.”

For me, it is a big achievement:  to manage a diverse and successful team which is also my own support system. And I am constantly learning from each and every one of them— every step of the way.”