The Founding Partners of The Hearth Education Advisors have extensive experience in education: the establishment and operations of institutions; curriculum development; financing (private equity and banking); working with governments; international and national trade bodies; international education consulting; research; and, multilateral project development.
The principal strengths of the firm lie in the experience of our Partners, Senior Advisors and Associates, our international reach, and our highly tailored approach to achieving quality outcomes.
Shashank Vira has twenty-five years of experience in academics, education strategy and operations, and social infrastructure financing. Shashank has been the CEO of international companies, led private equity investments and debt financing of education, established several high quality international academic institutions, master planned and overseen the development of townships and founded technology-in-education companies. He has also headed the curriculum, affiliation, research and development division of a national examination board in India. He is on the Board of some of the top schools, colleges and education companies. He has taught at the school and college level in India and the UK. Shashank has an M. Phil. from the University of Cambridge and an honours degree in Physics from St. Stephen’s College.
Zelmira Koch Polk is a business development and communications executive. She has spent the past 15 years building up expertise in a variety of fields including arts, healthcare, finance, communications, management consulting and education. Zelmira founded and ran the international division of Chartwell Education Group, an education-consulting firm created by the former U.S. Secretary of education and a group of leading educators. Chartwell specialised in bringing the best of education to countries around the world, working with governments and private sectors building schools and universities. Prior to Chartwell, Zelmira worked for the Dilenschneider Group, a leading crisis management and corporate public relations firm in New York and Credit Suisse First Boston. Zelmira is on the international advisory council of the International Crisis Group, advisory board to the British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, advisory board of the Weidenfeld Institute’s Oxford University Scholarship, vice president and board member of One Bright World Foundation and on the board of ARFA, a Swiss steel corporation. Zelmira holds a Bachelors degree in International Business and languages from University College London and European Business School.
Mark Runacres is a former diplomat (twenty five years in the British diplomatic service with his final posting as Minister and Deputy British High Commissioner to India until June 2006). He has worked in a wide range of fields, ranging from executive search to public affairs, from telecoms to financial services. He is now deeply involved in the training and education sectors, and is active in civil society. Mark acts as India Adviser to the Confederation of British Industry and is a Cambridge graduate.