Oksana Kolesnikova: Setting a unified education standard globally

The Most Admired Women Leaders in Business, 2021

With the immense passion for music, education, and children, Oksana Kolesnikova, CEO and Founder of Oksana Management Group, Inc., aims to break the banal notion where education is considered to be a luxury. Knowing the importance of education and other enrichment skills in children’s lives, she took the matters into her own hands and developed a company where these things were nurtured in them.

She started a school of music but slowly gathered the team and expanded the services to other fields of education. Further to expand the roots to international borders, she took advantage of the franchise concept and expanded the horizons of her company. Today, Oksana Franchising International, Inc. offers Franchise Opportunities, private lessons for music (piano, voice, guitar), Languages (Italian, Spanish, French), All subject Tutoring K-12, and After School Enrichment Programs for public, private, and charter schools, as well as municipalities and counties.

The tale of Oksana and music

As a child, Oksana grew up in a family of educators and was given an opportunity to study music at an early age. As she was growing up and getting better at mastering the art of piano, she discovered her love and passion for music in general. She wanted music to be a part of her daily life, not just as recreation but also as a career. So, she nurtured the kindling in her mind and soul slowly and went on to win several music competitions. When she immigrated to the US, she pursued her interests and received her education at Saint Petersburg College (Florida) and later, at Florida State University.

After completing her graduation, she went on to perform and tour not only across the US and abroad, sharing her music with audiences all over the world. When Oksana became a mom, she decided not to sacrifice her time being away touring from her child, but she also didn’t want to leave music. So, at first, she channeled her passion in building her businesses locally and eventually expanding nationally via her Franchise in the fields of music, education, and arts.

Rise of a visionary leader

Having witnessed the wonderful world of music at the age of five, she knew that she would pursue her career in it only. She was blessed with amazing parents who were educators and sought more opportunities for their children. After the Soviet Union dissolved, Oksana emigrated from Russia to the US with her family as her parents wanted to grab better opportunities for their children. The family settled in St. Petersburg, Florida.

While expanding her knowledge base, she won the Florida State Young Artists Symposium Competition as a junior. This honor secured her a scholarship to the School of Music at Florida State University, where she graduated with honors. All these achievements at an early age further cemented her aim to create a fantastic career in the music domain. She had a growing fan base, and her gigs included charitable and business galas, private events, and a recurring booking on the Home Shopping Network (HSN).

While expanding her knowledge base, she met her husband-to-be, Alex, who had emigrated from Italy to the US. A new chapter began in both of their lives as he became her manager, and they developed strong national and international relationships.

In 2003, Oksana became the first Russian-American female pianist to travel overseas to entertain the US Troops. She made two world tours on behalf of the Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) Department of the US Navy. She made a solo tour for entertaining the US Troops in September 2003, stopping in Italy, Spain, and Greece. In February of 2004, she went to Asia, including stops in Guam, Korea, Japan, Okinawa, and Singapore with Navy MWR. She was also invited to perform for UN officials in New York City.

In 2006, she received her US citizenship. When she moved to Los Angeles from Florida, she was offered a prestigious position as the in-house pianist at the legendary Polo Lounge at the famed Beverly Hills Hotel, where all the famous celebrities, world leaders, and business moguls patronize and have meetings. She adds, “Many of these celebrities heard me play and inquired about my availability to work with them or their children. This is how I was able to build my first private piano studio, which later expanded in forming Oksana School of Music, offering lessons not only for piano but also for singing, guitar, violin, and other instruments.”

As she progressed further, she amalgamated all the three prime passions namely, music and arts, education, and children, and developed her first company Oksana Management Group, Inc. in 2010. She states, “At this point, we grew to provide not only music lessons, but other after school enrichment classes for Foreign Languages (Spanish, Italian, French, Farsi, Russian, Hebrew, and Chinese), all-subject K-12 Academic tutoring and test prep, and other programs such as financial literacy for children and teens, martial arts and fitness, art/drawing, drama/acting and more.” They even branched out their services not only to private clients but also to local schools, districts, municipalities, and counties, as well as to the online community.

Having proven the decade-long success of their business model, the team decided to franchise it nationally. The second company, Oksana Franchising International, was born in 2019 and now offers franchising opportunities in 35 states to other entrepreneurs who want to be operating in the existing industry of private and after-school education.

Her 3rd company Oksana Foundation (www.OksanaFoundation.org), was born in 2020. It’s a federally recognized 501 (c)(3) non-Profit that offers free educational services to children in need and financially challenged youth who could otherwise never afford these services.

The seeds of opportunity and growth

Oksana takes all the challenges as the stepping stones to reach the north star of her life. She believes that overcoming challenges makes a person stronger, helps discover different and unique ways of doing things, and strengthens the weaknesses.

She adds, “My whole entrepreneurial journey has been full of challenges, but it’s because of them that I’m now able to train and support my Franchisees and private business consulting clients. I paved the road for them, so they can have a smoother journey on their road to success.”

Unlocking the Hidden Creative Geniuses

Oksana is a highly creative person and loves to think outside the box. Owing to this, she always tries to surround herself with a lot of creative thinkers and team players. She adds, “One word that stands out to describe our culture is Creativity! Creativity is everything. My favorite time with my team is when we have creative brainstorming sessions and work on the issues at hand. They bring enthusiasm; propose ideas, solutions, and possibilities. I love hearing other people’s creative ideas and improvement methods, and it’s the best parts of my day.”

Having creativity as an integral part of the company’s foundation, she feels there is nothing to worry about the competitors. Since their brand’s reach is vast, encompassing different areas, and their products and service provision is top-notch, they are here to stay for a long time. She is pumped to have this unique competitive edge along with solid brand recognition and stellar reputation in the marketplace. Embracing all this, she always prioritizes her energies in leading her team and rendering ultimate services to all their customers.

Leading by setting an example

Oksana dreams of leading a life in which she can influence more people to bring change. Her most cherished dream is to grow and propel the companies to international markets until the next decade. She opines in the fact that the depth of information that they share in their education is a must-have everywhere around the world.

Currently, the lack of a unified standard in education is making different students gain a different level of understanding even after being of the same age. Additionally, many impoverished communities are restricted to only “general school subjects” education, and they consider it to be a “luxury” to afford additional supplemental education, subjects, and/or skill mastery.

Therefore, she shares, “At Oksana Foundation, we want and work towards the goal that the next generation will have the opportunity to gain access to the same quality educational services regardless of their income status. We are grateful to all our current and future sponsors and donors that choose to join us in our mission and help us make a positive difference in the world and create an impact on a larger scale.”

A Professional ‘Work Horse’

As the Founder & CEO of Oksana Management Group, Inc., Oksana is the face of the brand. Thus, she manages all the tasks done by her teams besides attending all the business meetings. With her strict work routines, she calls herself a Work horse. However, she doesn’t complain about handling most things herself and rather enjoys working hard. She states, “I’m a happier person when I work.”

Her typical workday commences at around 8 AM, where she concentrates on numerous tasks such as answering emails, returning phone calls and texts, hiring and training staff, attending all business appointments and meetings, doing media and press interviews, going over reports and records, planning, and adjusting the further course of action. She tries to complete all of these tasks till 1 PM after which, she takes a lunch break from 1 PM to 2 PM.

Once she eats her food, she begins all the remaining tasks that include training her business consulting clients, attending sites where their classes are conducted, training her protégé pupils, as well as attending business-related events. All this is completed till 8 PM, after which she goes home and rests for a while.

Teamwork is the essence of achieving great success mountains. Therefore, she has herself handpicked the entire team, and while doing so, she scrutinizes every little detail during the interview. She keeps looking for similar characteristics as she exhibits as a team player.

Further, to maintain constant teamwork, a consistent push of motivation plays an important role. Oksana states, “I think projecting yourself and putting yourself in someone else’s shoes does wonders to understand and feel others. All of my team players have the same passion for our vision and mission of our company, and they believe in its legacy and the goodness as we try to make this world a better place, and this keeps us all motivated.”

Besides work, she firmly believes in attaining a personal and professional balance. She states, “No matter how busy I am, I always find time for my family when they need me. I’m the mother of a brilliant 11-year-old, Alessandro Concas, who is quite an entrepreneur himself. He is super passionate and has even published two books when he was 8 and 9 years old. I love spending time with him and teaching him everything I know about business.”

Charting a global growth-oriented future roadmap

Oksana’s aim to formulate a standard on the global level relies on the fact that Oksana Enrichment Franchise keeps spreading its wings day in and out. She is thrilled to scale forward and take her venture to a whole new level. Presently, they are selling their franchises in 35 states but expect to expand into all 50 states in the upcoming 5-7 years.

After that, they will even plan for widening their reach to the international markets and offering their premium-quality education to all. Feeling blessed to be a part of a multi-billion-dollar industry, she is elated to witness an upward rise in the demand for evergreen educational services all across the globe. Even the occurrence of the COVID-19 pandemic couldn’t disrupt anything in this arena.

There are many fresh developments under progress right now, and she keeps sharing the message of staying tuned for their upcoming advancements with each of her valued customers and friends.

Being thankful to God, Oksana shares, “I’ve been fortunate to never have experienced gender prejudice or gender discrimination in my industry, but I’m grateful to all those brave women before me who paved the road in the business world for females to succeed on equal ground.” Also, she believes her untiring will and determination made everything possible for her. Thus, her message for all budding businesswomen is to keep pursuing their passions and never think of giving up at any stage.