The seeds of public service were planted when Archana Surana was a high school student. Witnessing her parents Dr. P M Bhandari, a renowned medical practitioner and Mrs. Sunitha Bhandari, a recipient of the prestigious Presidential Medal involved in community service, young Archana wanted to play a central role in effecting sustainable societal changes after her graduation.
A National Scholarship Awardee from the Ministry of Education & Culture, Government of India, Archana completed her bachelor’s in arts as a meritorious student. Her passion for making a difference in people’s lives through her work got a shot in the arm when she married Dilip Surana, Managing Director of Micro Labs, a leading pharmaceutical giant in India.
Tryst with passion
‘Making the lives of people and the communities better’ has been the common denominator for everyone at the Surana household. While her husband was busy driving science to bring affordable medicines to patient care, Archana chose ‘Education’ as the path for social development.
While she was sitting on the board of Micro Labs, she was invited by her father-in-law Sri. Ghewarchandji Surana, a visionary industrialist to helm the GDA Foundation – a Charitable Trust owned by the Surana’s. Today, the Trust manages four educational institutions in Bangalore and serves over 5000 students from primary school till postgraduation. The educational institutions that completed 25 years off service in 2020 have served 45000 students from various social and economic backgrounds.
Taking higher education to the next level
Having spent over 25 good years running academic institutions of all nature, Archana Surana wants to offer world-class education to Indian students. The giant leap of moving away from University shadow to an autonomous institution is a significant milestone for the educational institutes she manages. She is determined to make industryrelevant education a reality through autonomy. She is also in talks with many leading academic start-ups to offer global education options to her students. Under her leadership, Surana College is re-accredited with the prestigious ‘A+’ grade by NAAC, a feat achieved by very few institutes in India.
Archana spent the COVID lockdown as an opportunity to chalk down the vision document for the next decade for her educational institutions. In a major rejig, she has been infusing many young and experienced faces to take up high-performing roles to take the educational institutes to the next sphere of growth.
The joy of giving
Watching problems get solved in front of your eyes is very satisfying, says Dr. Archana Surana when you ask her what motivates her to give and continue giving. From slashing the tuition fees for the needy to the academically meritorious, from supporting the single/double orphaned students to helping students pursue their areas of interest, from sending relief materials to contributing to the PM’s emergency fund during natural calamities, Archana Surana doesn’t wait for an opportunity to give.
Her mid-day meal events for the visually impaired, donations to critical medical care and gifting of tractors to the local corporation for water distribution go beyond the ambits of education. According to her effecting a crucial societal change through education, healthcare, or rural development aligns with her definition of success. Her nature of giving is so contagious that the students and faculty members of her educational institutes are widely known for many social impact projects like blood donation, environmental cause, gender diversity and so on. She was also one of the Advisory members for Association for Health Care Providers-India (AHPI) for drafting Guidelines for Reopening of Schools, Post-Covid-19 Pandamic (Joint Advisory by AHPI & GCCMC.
A leader par excellence
The strong humanitarian side of Archana Surana has been the distinguishing quality of her leadership style. Today, she manages a workforce of over 500 across the educational institutes, most of whom she hired over a couple of decades ago. Archana strongly believes in diversity and inclusion. Her educational institutes are predominantly managed and run by women. Her hands-on approach and mentoring capabilities have benefitted people far and beyond.
Her thrust for quality and excellence has time and again brought laurels to the educational institutions she manages. Under her leadership, the educational institutes have collectively bagged more than 48 university ranks across streams in the last two decades. Archana Surana means business when she talks about ‘Holistic Development’. During the late 2000’s, she started giving more significant push towards churning students in the field of sports, culture, and media. It is a matter of pride that many alumni from the Surana Educational Institutions have made their mark in the national and international arena in sports and culture.
She encouraged the faculty members to embark on a research-driven teaching approach. Under her leadership, the educational institutes have organized many national and international conferences, symposiums, and thought exchange forums to address many pressing issues in the fields of science, arts, mental wellbeing, and literature.
When she is not at work…
A pious and religious individual, Archana spends time at the Jain temples constructed by her family in Bangalore. Today, the temples have come along not merely as a place of worship but as a monastery for wayfaring monks and spiritual seekers. Archana ensures that the facilities in these monasteries are top-notch so that the seekers of truth do not undergo any discomfort in their profound passage. She personally oversees the weekly ‘Anna-Dhana (food donation) at these temples for the public.
Archana loves to take quiet breaks from the mundane and globe-trot with Diya Surana, her Warwick Business School graduate daughter who recently joined the family business. Archana is also a most sought-after speaker on women’s rights, quality in education, child development, life skills and management.
Few honors received by Dr. Archana
- Karnataka Gaurav Award
By All India Technical & Management Council
- India’s Most Valuable Woman Educationalist
By Network 7 Media Group
- Best Interactive Solution Provider
By The Associated Chambers of Commerce & Industry of India (ASSOCHAM)
- Best Educationist Award
By International Institute of Education & Management
- Mahila Ratan Gold Medal Award
By ISC-Indian Solidarity Council
- Bharath Shiksha Ratan Award
- By Global Society for Health & Educational Growth
- India’s Most Valuable Woman Educationalist
By Network 7 Media Group
- Star of Asia Award
By International Business Council
- Outstanding Entrepreneur Award
By Management Teachers Consortium,MTC-Global
- Mother Teresa Sadbhawana Award
By Achievers Association for Economic Research & Development
- Honorary Doctorate (D.Litt)
By University of South America
- National CSR Women Leadership Award
By National Awards for Excellence in CSR & Sustainability
- Certificate of Excellence in Recognition of Exemplary Contribution to the Education Sector
By Stimulus Research Services
- Daughter of Karnataka Award
By All India Conference of Intellectuals