The price for a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) certification in the UK costs around £6,000, not including travel and accommodation. At Koenig the price is £1,850 all in. This covers the course, flights, accommodation, food and local transport.
“If you wanted you wouldn’t have to spend a penny more than what you initially paid out”, says Nelson, “it’s a whole inclusive package here and it is much less than what you would pay for a course in London”.
What you get
Although Koenig offers budget courses, there is nothing budget about its state of the art facilities. Class sizes are small – there are not more than five students on each course.
It is also possible to do one-on-one training. In Europe classes often contain 20-plus students and this sort of contact is barely imaginable. One-on-one training is tailored to each student’s requirements and can start at any date. Although the cost of customised training is about 40% more than the regular fees, many students opt for it.
Learning in a training centre allows students to develop specialist skills in a controlled environment. Chris Binner, an IT consultant from Glasgow explains, “I wanted to know how to do disaster recovery in a live environment and you can’t just do that anywhere. Here I get the opportunity to do it because it’s set up for that.”
There can be language issues, but they are not usually a major problem and are easily overcome. Seemab Khan, a Cisco trainer who has worked at Koenig for 4 years, reflects on the success of the students. “The pass rate is high, at about 80-85%. We do all our teaching in English and many students return, year after year. Sometimes there are communication problems but it helps that technical terms are universal. Most of the time we get over language issues quickly.”
The accommodation is clean and basic – not 5 star. The hotel has a youth-hostel feel but is equipped with air-conditioning and wireless internet. The food is cooked by the in-house chef and trainees sit together for breakfast and dinner on long tables. Students work hard, but it is also an opportunity to network with new people.
“I would recommend this course to other people, and the trainers really know their stuff,” says Nelson. But he advised students to be aware of the distance and cultural differences before committing themselves to a course. “I don’t think it would suit everyone. I’ve done a lot of travelling, but for someone who hasn’t travelled they might find it overwhelming.”
Hitendra Bhatt owns a small business in the City of London doing front office development for Investment Banks. He explains “in terms of standards, it’s not luxury, but the organisation of the whole operation is great and the course fits in perfectly with my career”.
Holidays and training
In addition to the Delhi training centre, Koenig also runs boot camps in Goa, Shimla and Dehradun where students can combine learning and leisure.
There are also plenty of leisure opportunities for visiting students. For those attending training in Delhi, students can take trips to the Taj Mahal, while those who train in Goa can relax on the stunning beaches. Going offshore gives IT trainees the opportunity to explore the country, while also gaining valuable qualifications.
The story so far
Koenig founder and CEO, Rohit Aggarwal, came up with his business model almost by mistake. “I set up Koenig as an Indian focused IT training company, but when the dot com bubble burst I decided to look to students from outside India to keep the business going”.
In 2002 the company re-established itself as an offshore training centre. At first growth was slow, but gradually the number of students increased. From one student in 2002, the number of trainees graduating in 2010 reached 160 a month.
The company now employs 300 staff and has an annual turnover of $6 million. “There is a lot of potential for growth”, explains Aggarwal. “India has the second largest number of IT professionals in the world, so we ensure we have the best trainers. The number and diversity of our students is also increasing and due to economies of scale we are cheaper and more flexible than training centres in the West”.
The awareness of offshore training is growing, albeit slowly. “Some students are wary of our courses”, admits Aggarwal, “that’s why we get a lot of our business through word of mouth”.