Judy Curry, Chief Executive, Commonwealth Education Trust

Interviews - Delegates at Family Office Fourm

November 7, 2015

/ By

Biz@India

March-April 2014



Optimistic about India’s education sector

Judy Curry,Chief Executive, Commonwealth Education Trust

Judy Curry,Chief Executive, Commonwealth Education Trust

Joined the Commonwealth Institute as Finance Director in 2000, Judy Curry became Chief Executive of the company in 2007. Commonwealth Institute was set up to hold and invest in Commonwealth Institute trust fund. The Commonwealth Education Trust is the successor trust to the Commonwealth Institute and is regulated by the Charity Commission of England and Wales. The Trust invests in primary and secondary education and the training and professional development of teachers, thereby enhancing the opportunities for children to develop the skills necessary to contribute to the economic and social development of their communities.
 
• Tell us something about your organisation. When was it initiated and how has it evolved over the years?
 
The origins of the Commonwealth Education Trust go back to 1886 when Edward, Prince of Wales, sent out a call across the Empire for funds to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee. Indian citizens contributed substantially to the fund which has been held in trust to this day to advance education in the countries of the Commonwealth.

• What kind of services do you provide and how can these benefit the UHNWIs?

We invest in applied research to improve teaching standards and practice; we encourage innovation and share experience and best practice across the Commonwealth; and we create profitable education businesses to deliver sustainable improvements in education. We have opportunities for UHNWIs interested in either philanthropic giving or social investment to work with us both in India and across the 53 countries of the Commonwealth.

• Are your existing clients single family units or multiple families?

We have partnered and co-invested with a wide range of individuals and organisations.

• What is your firm’s investment philosophy?

We invest in order to achieve two types of return: educational and financial. Some investments are designed to achieve only one type of return but increasingly we look to make sustainable advances in education by investing for both types of return simultaneously. We look to create a balanced portfolio of investments when considered from either aspect.

• How are your teams structured to deliver services to the clients? Do you have different services for different UHNWIs – inheritors, selfmade and professionals?

We welcome approaches from all serious investors interested in the education sector. We have opportunities to fund research through the Centre for Commonwealth Education we have established with the University of Cambridge, UK; to fund Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) through our partnership with Coursera, California; and to invest in schools, online education companies and educational software developments through our subsidiary 1886 Investments Limited.

• What are the top three characteristics that distinguish your firm the most from your competitors?

All our investment opportunities benefit education; we bring commercial, finance and business skills to a sector where they are traditionally lacking; we provide export opportunities for growing businesses.

• What communication methods have you used with your clients?

Investors hear about us through word of mouth and speaking engagements at events such as the Family Office Forum in Mumbai.

• Do you provide any client education programmes? Please mention.

We encourage our investors to visit our companies and learn how they operate.

• What is your approach towards risk management?

We undertake as much advance due diligence as is feasible and proportionate to the size of our investments. We accept that many of our investments are relatively high risk and work to mitigate those risks through active ownership and a seat on the board.

• Is there any impact of economic slowdown on the demand? Are clients more cost conscious or quality conscious in the times of slowdown?

The advantages of a high quality education become even more apparent as the economy weakens.

 

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• What kind of potential do you see for the Indian family office business? What is your outlook? What are the current trends and opportunities?

The Trust is not qualified to advice on Indian family offices. The outlook for the education sector is very positive. A good education is a priority for parents wishing to give their children the best start in life.

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