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How A Once-Family-Owned Teacher’s College Positioned Itself For a Successful Scale-Up

By Verne Harnish

Ayala Education, based in the Phillippines, is devoted to providing accessible quality education to all Filipinos. The longstanding organization is the education arm of the Ayala Group of Companies. The group is the parent of National Teacher’s College (NTC), which also includes a School of Arts and Sciences and School of Business.

“Our goal is uplifting people out of poverty in the Philippines through education and being able to transform our students’ lives,” says Pam Wu, EVP of NTC.

When Ayala Education Group’s president Fred Ayala read my book Scaling Up, he saw a way to expand the organization’s impact. He attended a Scaling Up program I ran in Manila as the organization was embarking on a period of acquisitions.

Ayala engaged Scaling Up Certified Coach Jeremy Han in 2017 to guide the organization through processes such as the One-Page Strategic Plan. Han worked closely with Wu to create a strategy, build a team around that strategy, align the organization around it and put the right systems in place for execution.

Today, NTC is achieving its goals. When the group acquired National Teacher’s College (NTC), the oldest private teacher education school in the Philippines in 2018, it immediately applied the Scaling Up platform to the previously family-owned business. It has grown from about 12,000 students to 19,000.

Here is how the leadership team applied the principles of Scaling Up.

Expanding a workforce

Teachers are the heart of any education system, and to grow, NTC needs to hire more of them. At the time it was acquired, it employed 60 teachers. Today there are more than 300. With a traditional teacher’s education taking as long as 10 years, NTC knew it needed to find an additional route to finding talent. It built its strategy around recruiting industry professionals to teach. “We want to really get the students exposed to their industry and bridge the academic and industry skills gap,” says Wu.

Positioning an institution for growth

NTC invested early in taking its education programs online after Han worked with the leadership team to identify the biggest constraint to earning an advanced degree in the Philippines. One was the congestion in Metro Manila, a group of seven interconnected cities.

“It’s traffic jams right after work,” says Han. “You take 2 hours to get to college, you spend three hours in night classes, and by the time you get home, it’s midnight. These are people with young families who want to progress in their careers, so we designed our master’s degree program around that.”

Being an early adopter of technology positioned the school well to grow rapidly during the pandemic, something no one could have predicted. Within the region, it was the only university that had a teacher education master’s degree that was completely online. “We were one of the very few schools that just continued growing,” says Wu.

Putting the systems in place to scale

To ensure the team stayed aligned around its goals, Han worked with Wu to apply the principles of both Mastering the Rockefeller Habits, my first book, and Scaling Up. That meant holding daily and weekly huddles and putting systems in place to hold people accountable for results. “We had to look at the key levers we needed to push to scale up,” says Han.

Scaling Up Certified Coach Jeremy Han worked closely with NTC’s EVP Pam Wu and leadership team to position the institution for rapid expansion.

Building financial sustainability

Guiding the company’s strategy was a Profit Per X that enabled the NTC to continue to reach more students with quality education but to deliver it more efficiently. “If we were able to hold classes with the same outcomes with a bigger class size, that would really help,” recalls Wu.

To that end, they added improved technology, introduced more self-paced learning, and shifted to more active projects where students learn by doing, such as creating business plans. “One of the things we’ve started to focus on is really developing skills, rather than memorizing,” says Wu.

Ultimately, that strategy positioned the school for 200% revenue growth, bringing sustainability to its vision. And its strong cash position is helping the school to achieve its larger goal of helping students seize the opportunities afforded by a more tech-driven future. NTC recently secured a 3,000-square-meter space for a new annex, which is scheduled to open in September 2024. The organization is now looking at opening another branch of the school.

“The more students whom we were are able to help, the more we are able to transform their lives,” says Wu.

Verne Harnish
Verne Harnish
Verne Harnish is founder of the world-renowned Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) and chaired for fifteen years EO’s premiere CEO program, the “Birthing of Giants” and WEO’s “Advanced Business” executive program both held at MIT. Founder and CEO of Gazelles, a global executive education and coaching company with over 150 coaching partners on six continents, Verne has spent the past three decades helping companies scale-up. The “Growth Guy” syndicated columnist, he’s also the Venture columnist for FORTUNE magazine. He’s the author of Scaling Up (Rockefeller Habits 2.0); Mastering the Rockefeller Habits; and along with the editors of Fortune, authored The Greatest Business Decisions of All Times," for which Jim Collins wrote the foreword. Verne also chairs FORTUNE Magazine’s annual Leadership and Growth Summits and serves on several boards including chairman of The Riordan Clinic and the newly launched Geoversity. He is an investor in many scale-ups. A father of four, he enjoys piano, tennis, and magic as a card-carrying member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians.