The power of online education, and one man’s path to become a world business leader


Ankit Khandelwal’s dream is as simple as it is complex; become a world business leader within 10 to 15 years.

After discovering massive open online courses (MOOCs) and their potential for self development, Ankit designed the ‘envisioning a 21st century global manager’ project after two months of brain-storming in early 2012.

 An engineering graduate from the Technical University of Denmark, Ankit returned to his homeland of India with great aspirations of becoming a global leader. Described as a ‘doer’, it was his long term dream to be a manager. Those with similar aspirations may simply undertake an MBA. However, financial reasons and the ability to do something differently were the drivers for Ankit to design and take on his own two-year project.He spent the next two years (May 2012- June 2014) completing a series of online courses and undertaking other activities with the aim of stepping closer towards accomplishing his dream.

Envisioning a 21st century global manager

First, he identified the necessary skills for becoming a world leader, from dealing with complex challenges in a multinational corporation to understanding economic policy making. He then focused on four key areas for educating himself, including:

  • online education

  • information gathering

  • globalization

  • knowledge application

Online education

Ankit took online courses in general management (human resources, business strategy etc.) and future trends (urban planning, demographic changes, environmental law and policy, and disaster preparation). He accessed the courses through MIT OpenCourseWare, Open Education Consortium  Open Yale Courses, Open Learning Initiative- Carnegie Mellon University, Copenhagen Business Center and a variety of MOOC platforms including edX, Coursera, NovoEd and Open2study.

Information gathering

Ankit read the business news of many countries from every content, and cross-checked the information to reduce the impact of media bias. He visited the library to study business magazines and management books. 


Ankit studied many different cultures including China, Japan, Russia, Latin America and the Middle East. He studied their history, economic conditions, social structure and local customs. While fluent in Hindi and English, he embarked on learning German, Spanish and Russian. He also spent time researching Google maps and Wikipedia to gain a better understanding of geography.

Knowledge application

To strengthen and build on his newfound knowledge, Ankit completed several activities from conducting a comparative economic analysis of two Latin American countries, to modifying the traffic plan of his own city. He also completed volunteer projects, including using his knowledge of finance to help local street vendors improve their businesses. He became much more active in using social media to network, and his network now extends to contacts in more than 100 different countries.

During his two year project, Ankit developed many simple tools for improving the skills for leaders.

For example, “While talking with people from different cultures and professions via email, I realized that some people respond quicker than others. Delayed responses are fine in some cultures, while 48 hours is the deadline to reply to an email in different cultures.

“Therefore, I have used the 'time-line' concept of basic finance to prepare my standard waiting time index. Using this index, it is possible to judge how much time I should wait before I receive a response from someone,” said Ankit.

Over the two years, Ankit used 50 direct and 200 indirect sources. An engineer by trade, he now has a much better understanding of market trends, business strategies, trade negotiations and government policies. He can also communicate better with people from different cultures, and he has improved his skills at working within multicultural teams.

Is Ankit now a world business leader? Not yet. However, education is a lifelong process, and Ankit is much closer to accomplishing his dream than he was two years ago.

For more detailed information about Ankit’s ‘envisioning a 21st century global manager’ project, visit his website.

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