This month, we talk to founder Ariana Azad about her career, her work and her vision for Figtree – both now and into the future.
What inspired you to establish Figtree Learning?
Without a doubt, it was my work with the educational charity One Degree. Watching students grow in confidence and self-belief, realising their potential – and being a part of that journey – was incredibly rewarding.
It was a privilege to become trusted and to be able to set an example to the children. But just as I became their role model, they inspired me to learn and grow too – ultimately giving me the impetus to take the leap and establish Figtree.
So what was it about tutoring that attracted you specifically – as opposed to supporting children in other areas of their lives?
I’ve always loved education, and the rewards of working with children, so tutoring seemed like a natural fit. With the current demand for professional tutoring services, in London and abroad, I decided to explore the market.
It quickly began to come together – I was able to work professionally in a thriving market, and at the same time continue the voluntary work with children who do not have the privilege of access to one-to-one educational support.
Although this marked a change in career, did your background shape your vision for Figtree?
To an extent, yes. Prior to pursuing a career as a lawyer in the City, I worked as a human rights consultant at the United Nations, which stemmed from a similar desire to make a positive impact. I was attracted to the international scale of the organisation, which – given my upbringing and our increasingly globalised world – was very important to me.
Now it feels like I’m making an impact at a direct, grass-roots level. But in as much as it’s personal, I’m helping students find their way in an increasingly competitive global market. So you could say my career has come full circle – the interactions we have with our students now will continue to reverberate throughout their lives, wherever that may take them.
What does a typical day look like for you? Is there such a thing?
There’s definitely no such thing as a typical day – and I love that. I really thrive on connecting with people, whether it’s a new client who needs our help, or a tutor brimming with enthusiasm and excited to pass on their knowledge. Although keeping everything ticking over keeps me busy on a day-to-day basis, I always make time to teach a few sessions. That direct contact is important for me, and for the business, as it keeps the students at the heart of everything we do.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Being able to support parents and students alike – and making a difference to their lives, no matter how big or small.
I also love the entrepreneurial side of what I do, and it’s been a real joy to see my vision come to life. The ability to help students explore new opportunities, opening their minds to what they can achieve is what attracted me to this role in the first place – and it’s absolutely what keeps me coming back every day for more.
So what’s next for Figtree?
I want to continue building on what we’ve achieved so far. I imagine the company as a contemporary, yet sustainably designed skyscraper – now we have the foundations in place, we will continue to build on those, growing slowly but very surely, both at home and overseas, through our online services. There are definitely exciting times ahead, and that’s just in the short term!
And finally – if you could describe yourself in three words, what would they be?
Diligent, open-minded and passionate.