“A successful education includes learning how to learn,” asserts Bernard West ’87, who has been an investor in education-related companies for the past 20 years. Bernard graduated from Howard University with a degree in economics and Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies with a concentration in South Asia and finance. During his senior year of college, Bernard began his career as an entrepreneur in the telecom and systems integration sector, but soon made the transition to education once he was exposed to the large number of under-prepared graduates entering the job market.
Bernard has a long history of helping schools improve the quality of their education both in the United States and abroad. In the U.S., Bernard helped create charter school legislation in New York, helped build a business managing underperforming schools and school districts in cities across the country, and was a founding employee of K12 Inc., an organization that provides online education for public school students in kindergarten through 12th grade. He then co-founded Tadrees Holding in the Middle East with an investor from K12, growing the company to serve more than 10,000 students in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and now lives and works in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
“My work in education came from addressing unmet needs in the U.S. education market,” Bernard explains. “This became a passion for me when I quickly realized how schools can change communities and a good education can change individual lives. My passion for taking this work internationally combined my interest in culture and foreign affairs and the desire to seek new opportunities to apply my expertise.”
More recently, Bernard has been advising private equity and high net worth family offices on investing in the education sector in emerging markets, primarily in Asia and Africa. He also led the investment and startup operations of a premium British school that he opened in Dubai and Singapore called North London Collegiate School.
For Bernard, the best part about living and working in Dubai is the opportunity to provide his family with real-world global education. “Children growing up in Dubai learn about the world through experience,” he says. “With so much being located within a few hours, children grow up taking shorts trips to some of the world’s most exciting cities several times a year. I love providing that experience to my family.”