Avinya Foundation

#6 Pol sambol sandwich epiphanies and other stories

Before I get into pol sambol sandwiches and epiphanies, you may be wondering – what’s my quote for the week? 

Here it is….

 No one can whistle a symphony. It takes a whole orchestra to play it.” (H.E. Luccock)

It’s our 1 1/2 month birthday at Team Avinya! As we cross the threshold of yet another milestone, this is the quote that has been circling in my head. 

Remember my sprint planning anecdotes from last week? 

Well, this Monday as we went through our usual sprint planning exercise, the mammoth weight of everything we needed to get done descended on me. Yet, before I scurried to my introverted rock to crawl under, my orchestra helped me see that… “no one can whistle a symphony.” What we have ahead of us is gigantic, extensive, vast and all the other synonyms related to very large things. As cliched as it sounds, what keeps me from that rock is the knowledge that together we are strong – together we can make it through the uphill climbs ahead. This brings me to my other epiphany…

The other day, I was making pol sambol, peanut butter sandwiches and some french toast. As you do when no one in your family can agree on just one thing for breakfast! I lazily picked up the butter knife to cut through the pol sambol sandwich instead of a serrated knife and…that’s when I had an epiphany. My epiphanies are usually at very interesting moments, such as this 😉

You can’t achieve success through blunt things, it not only messes up the output, everything inside falls apart.

So, I thought to myself, be sharp, be clear, be focused. Don’t let the weight of things make you get you down, which only messes up the output and most definitely don’t let the inside fall apart. Over the years, I’ve been through the wringer and back and been a part of a range of teams that went through some pretty crazy changes. 

The output? 

Just imagine a whole heap of blunt knives and pol sambol sandwiches! Outputs were messy and a whole lotta insides fell apart.

To recover from that takes years. Sometimes one never does…

Right, apart from epiphanies let me tell you what we’ve been up to this week at Team Avinya – 


  • Concept plan for our first Avinya school – I was privileged to sit in on not one but three presentations of concept plans from some amazing architects for our new school. It was lovely to see the creativity and incredible hardwork put into the plans and designs. What was more touching was the offers of support, help and enthusiasm for our pioneer school building! We will share our initial plans with you in the next few weeks as this exciting chapter begins. 
  • Broken codes and MDM – Our IT gurus have been very busy writing code. Samisa tells me the other day he has broken his one. I look at him confused. But he laughs it off and tells me that it happens and he needs to spend the night figuring it out. Ah! My induction to the complex web of the deep tunnels of IT is very slow but steady 😉
    • Now to MDM. We met Sumedha and Inosh from Entgra last Friday. I learnt so much more in that meeting about the levels of MDM (Mobile Device Management) and the extent of how devices can be managed and controlled. 
    • Here, I was thinking parental controls was the height of MDM. Little did I know about this whole other world of MDM. How we could enable devices to access specific sites, actually pull out reports on battery percentages and charging frequencies. Listening to the back and forth made me really appreciate the joy of doing something new and pushing boundaries at each and every step. Sure, there’s a lot to learn along the way, then again without adventure…and unknowns…where’s the fun right?
  • Foundation Programme Educator Recruitment is now complete for our pioneer teaching team!
    • It’s been six weeks of interesting hurdles to navigate but it’s definitely been worth it to have our amazing pool of trail blazing educators onboard. We will do a blog featuring the team when we have everyone officially onboard with us 🙂



    • The team had two very intensive brainstorming sessions over the week about how to ensure fairness, transparency in remuneration. So we have decided to go with an internal scoring system which includes: years of experience (direct), years of experience (tangent), years of experience (other), qualifications. In our usual open and direct way there was a lot of questions, rationalising and finally consensus to arrive at four pay ‘buckets’ or ‘bands’ within our educator scale. You may ask why share this? Remember our open source concept? Don’t worry if you don’t, I’m still getting my head around it. But it’s what Sanjiva always tells us – always remember to share!

Here’s hoping this helps someone out there…


  • Admissions and decisions – If I had to christen this week, I’d call it ‘admissions and decisions week’. If you don’t believe me, just ask the whiteboards strewn with diagrams, text, blocks and flowcharts at our interim office space. We had the full team in on most days this week and we discussed and talked through things like: what should our admissions process look like? how do we only filter people close to the location of the school? what basic information do we need to capture to make an informed application decision? how do we ensure transparency and fairness? how do we close the loopholes and mitigate risk? 


Most importantly How do we do all this digitally and only use human intervention for critical points? I can’t say we’ve answered everything at this point. But we have answered what basic information we will capture by doing our research and seeing what’s already out there. We have also answered a big ‘blocker’ question about what our screening process will include. So far, our plan is to have two basic writing tasks, logical reasoning questions and a short ‘browser captured’ video task.  That’s where we are at before Samisa and Rukmal disappeared into their ‘coding caves’ to get cracking on things and if you hover near their shoulders you can pick out words like Ballerina, Dart, Flutter and BFF…but you know they aren’t talking about dance performances, sports, the butterfly kingdom or being best friends forever 😉 


  • So what else have we been up to? Well, educator onboarding and training is on our mind too. Dee has been busy working our training ideas this week and is eagerly waiting to have the Foundation Programme Educators to start getting into the thick of our Foundation Course contents and take a deep dive into what a day in the life of a student will look like. Oh, and we are looking for a name for our Foundation Programme. We figured with Avinya Foundation and Foundation Programme we might have some confusion there 😉 


That’s it from me.

Hope you have a lovely day and see you next week!

Maybe…it’s pol sambol sandwich time 😉

– Anju