Interview with Deeksha Mehta, Lead IELTS Educator at Leap Scholar.
Deeksha Mehta is a lead IELTS trainer at Leap Scholar and is considered by her students as one the best teachers at Leap Scholar. She is an Experienced English as a Second Language Instructor with a demonstrated history of working in the education management industry. Her friendly, approachable and simplified teaching style helps break down complex verbal concepts into simple steps. She has been with Leap Scholar since its inception and along with Manisha Angre( who heads the academic business), was instrumental in setting up some of the academic processes that are followed even today.
Before joining Leap Scholar, Deeksha was a lead cabin crew at Indigo Airline for around 8 years. Her polished and pleasing personality is one of her gifts from her role with Indigo. She is a CELTA certified educator from the University of Cambridge and is also fluent in Spanish.
Since she works for another professional company, she was not comfortable with recording and publishing the video anywhere. Hence the text interview is summary of the key highlights of my discussion with Deeksha Sharma, Lead IELTS educator at Leap Scholar
Tell us a little about your journey
I actually started with IELTS teaching in Jan 2021 and was quite taken aback with the success. I am originally from Delhi and have completed my education there. I wasn’t sure of my career path but always had a liking for languages and hence pursued a BA in English from Delhi University. I also learnt Spanish and I am a certified Spanish trainer and translator. While studying, I was working full time at Indigo Airlines for about 8 years but I knew that wasn’t what I wanted to continue doing.
So once I had my Spanish and English certifications in place, I started moonlighting as a Spanish translator on the side and then also as a spoken English coach. These side hustles gave me the confidence to quit my full time airline job and become a trainer with Leap Scholar. I have seen immense growth with the company both personally and professionally and I am quite happy that I made the switch. Especially given the pandemic and the impact it has had on the airline industry. I was one of the lucky few who had a plan B in the background.
Were you always passionate about teaching
I was always passionate about teaching. I grew up in a middle class family in Delhi where we were always taught to focus on academics. I learnt Spanish as a second language and freelanced for sometime as a translator as well as a Spanish educator. That’s where I discovered my love of teaching. But it wasn’t paying well in those days and hence I joined the airline Industry. In parallell, I continued my studies for my CELTA certification which then led me to Leap Scholar and IELTS training
You were a lead cabin attendant with Indigo airlines before becoming a teacher? What prompted the switch and how do you leverage some of the skills developed there in this role?
Yes, The airline industry was hiring a lot of freshers and also paying well. So I decided to join the airlines for sometime to be financially stable.. I hadn’t foreseen this to last for 8 years but it was a good journey there. Travel time was hectic but I learnt a lot. The personality development and grooming that they give really helps you mature and be presentable. This really helped me during the pandemic as I had the confidence in front of the camera. You also have to learn to deal with different types of passengers, some good and some not so good. This also helps you in class management and difficult students. So, yes, the skills learnt during my airline days really came in handy here.
You are a very well known face in IELTS teaching circles? How have you gone about developing your personal brand and what tips would you give to someone who is starting off and wants to be a known brand in this space
I am very influenced by IELTS Liz. Elizabeth Ferguson or IELTS Liz as she is known was a simple english school teacher who became famous all over the internet for her simple and genuine style of teaching english. She has a very authentic personality that she brings to her teaching which reminds you of the good english teachers of yore. When I started off into this industry, I had her as my role model and I tried to emulate her teaching style and also added a little of my own uniqueness to it. This helped me create a very unique personal brand for myself which students could relate to. I was also fortunate to be at the right place when Leap Scholar was starting out. Given that they had a predominantly online model it was quite beneficial in building my brand as I had to teach in front of the camera. My airline experience helped in this regard as I was comfortable on camera. All this contributed to my personal brand.
My advice to newcomers would be to first know your material well. You are first and foremost a teacher who is shaping the future of many students. Once you master your content, get comfortable with the camera. Education has made a giant leap to digital during the pandemic and the future is going to go this way. If you are camera shy and look awkward, it will affect your confidence and your teaching delivery. And finally, be authentic and honest, have your own style which connects to students easily. Since you are physically away from the student, the least you can do is be accessible and friendly.
What are your future plans ? Do you plan to branch out on your own someday
I prefer to take things one step at a time. I am currently enjoying my journey with Leap Scholar and growing personally with the brand too. So, I plan to stick around with them atleast for the next 3 to 5 years.
I have had stints as a freelancer earlier but it’s harder to establish yourself as compared to being associated with a growing brand. Plus, managing a business on your own takes you away from the core teaching piece which I enjoy the post.