“It is all about driving the behavior that makes a company successful. Have passion for the job you do and instill the passion in every member of the ‘family’.”
Mohanlal Augustine was commissioned to the Indian Army Education Corps in June 1974 and he had the unique opportunity to serve in many of the Class A institutions of the Defense services including the National Defense Academy, Indian Military Academy, Army Cadet College, Army Education Corps Training College and Centre, training officers and officer cadets. He was also the Headmaster of a Sainik School in India. He thus had the opportunity to train and mentor children from the age of 12 to adults up to the age of 60.
Having served the Army for 22 years he took premature retirement in 1996. He believes that “if a soldier doesn’t salute you; don’t react; carryout an introspection to check whether you have done something which does not command his respect”.
From 1996 to 2008, he was working as the Director of Administration and Education Secretariat at GEMS Education for their schools in the UAE. He was involved in many of the charity activities of the Group. He organized one of the first major Marathon runs in 1998; more than 30,000 people participated in the marathon from Oud Metha to Safa Park in Dubai which inspired many organizations to start charity activities thereafter.
Augustine was entrusted with the responsibility of setting up a transport company for school students in 2008. He took this as a great challenge to set up the transport company which would become a role model for the industry. He travelled extensively to USA, UK and other European countries to study all about the school buses and its operation and in July 2008, formed School Transport Services LLC (STS). As the Managing Director, since then it was a long journey to fulfil his dream of making this as the finest School bus company in the world. He recruited well experienced professionals in the field and trained and mentored them to ensure that each and every one is committed to provide the safest service to the students from the age of 2 to 20 while travelling in the buses. Instilled passion in every one for the safety, incorporated the best technologies in the buses and integrated operation and technology so well that there is no room left for any unanticipated incident in the operation. Today STS provides transportation to more than 72,000 students of 70 schools across the UAE in 2000+ Smart Buses installed with Electronic Attendance System, Video Surveillance System, Sleeping Child Check Button and Panic Button. It provides peace of mind to parents who send their children to school in a STS bus. “We ensure that, the future of our nation – will arrive at school safely, on time and ready to learn.”
Every staff member of STS is unique. They are passionate and committed to take care of the students in their care. The bus staff are trained well in driving, customer service, etiquettes and manners. Augustine ensures that he meets with every bus staff regularly during the classroom training or on the fields and many of them closely interacts with him during ‘Coffee with MD’. This has helped to develop a close-knit team who has only one motto – “The Safety of Students”. This helped the organization not to have any casualty or major incident during the last 9 years of operation. “Open door policy is the best any company can have. Satisfied employees make satisfied customers – the profitability automatically comes”.
Along with STS, many sister concerns were set up by him including automobile workshops like STS Auto Services LLC (Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi) maintaining all the 2,000 vehicles of STS and a large number of vehicles of other transport companies. The Security Devices Equipment Trading LLC established in Dubai in 2014 is registered with Dubai Protective System. It installs access control systems and video surveillance system in schools and buildings in addition to the installation of all the safety features in the school buses. STS provides the service for the tourism sector and staff transportation.STS is an ISO certified company (ISO 9001:2008 and OHSAS 18001:2007) and is also a member of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), UK.
STS is involved in a large number of CSR activities including Blood Donation drive, Smart Reading Program for the drivers, Can collection drive, clean up UAE campaign, give a Ghaf tree planting program, Water for Workers and many more which helped to achieve the CSR Label Award 2016.
STS was established with the vision to provide safe and reliable transport services as well as transport management solutions at the highest levels of safety, quality, customer service and positive employee relations. Since our inception, we have continually earned our customers’ confidence through seamless integration of cutting-edge technology in all our operations, constant innovation, continuous quality improvements and service enhancements and unflinching commitment to our passengers’ safety. Our proven track record for safety, punctuality, integrity and customer service have made us industry leaders. “We are what we repeatedly do every day. Excellence for us is not an act, it’s a habit.”
STS is closely associated with the regulatory authorities and helps to support the vision of safe transportation in the country. Augustine has participated and presented papers in the following Seminars & Conferences: School Transportation Conference organized by Dubai Roads and Transport Authority in joint with National Association of Pupil Transportation (NAPT) in April 2013, Bus Seminar in Abu Dhabi organized by UITP in September 2013, UITP Mena Transport Congress and Exhibition in Dubai in April 2016 and NATRANS Expo School Bus Safety Event in Abu Dhabi in October 2016 Augustine believes that Road safety is not just vital for his business it is also personal to him. Creating safety awareness among the students and the public is his passion. To name a few events –
Reduce Traffic, Use the School Bus – a special media event was organized with the goal being to encourage families to use the school bus and help reduce traffic was hosted by Dubai Eye 103.8 at GEMS Wellington Academy – Silicon Oasis on 16th March 2016 The event incorporated an On-Air discussion and Panel discussion.
My Future School Bus – a model making competition was organized which was received with great enthusiasm, with large number of children demonstrating how they would prefer to use the school bus instead of private transportation.
His leadership style is that of empowering people, with necessary mentoring and guidance, towards a common goal of excellence, with clear transparency in all dealings. An inspiring leader, Augustine is a strategist, visionary, mentor and motivator with a passion for excellence who harnesses the utmost efforts and resilience from all concerned to make the company a role model.
In an interview, Augustine states: “All parts of the education sector are challenged to educate and to protect our children, and we at STS are aware of our responsibility. We must make sure, that children know all the basics of road safety to protect them and to share their knowledge with their friends, siblings and families. Educated children will become responsible young drivers once they will get behind the wheel. STS as the biggest private school bus operator in the UAE with more than 2,000 buses, transporting about 70,000+ students every day can play a strategic role in educating school children in a real-life environment.”
As part of the cost saving initiatives for the company, he used to always give an example of an airline that managed to save tens of thousands of dollars per year by removing a single olive from the salads in their meals, because it was hardly noticed by customers; it was a massive win, tens of thousands of dollars without anyone noticing.Augustine believes that a School Bus is an extension of the Classroom. The ‘Extended Classroom’ will teach the children the basics of safety like how to safely wait for and enter the school bus; learn the importance of buckling up themselves or be buckled up in the school bus; the proper behaviour while being driven in school buses; how to safely disembark and approach their waiting parents or guardians; and how to safely cross roads on their way home after their school bus ride.
He likes to spend time (sparsely available) with his family- Wife Sophie Mohan has been in the field of education for over 30 years but now runs her own venture along with their second daughter Suzanna Mohan —“Suzanna & Sophie’s Design Studio” at Jumeirah Lake Towers. Eldest daughter Dr. Elsa Joby works in City Hospital, Dubai Health Care City and son Eldose Madott is currently at Vancouver, Canada.