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My journey with Odgers Interim started last February and I have been in the privileged position of learning something new every day! Every college Principal/CEO I have met over the last year openly has shared their thoughts and insights with me. So, what have I learnt? I have learnt this sector delivers a high level of added value, not just to their students but also to all their stakeholders. This is not delivered without its challenges such as:-
- Year on year funding cuts but still delivering to a high quality
- Ensuring governance is at its best and attracting the right level and expertise which challenges and supports all at the same time
- Enabling managers to be accountable, high performers and nurture the next generation of leaders
- Generating additional sustainable revenue so the reliance on government funding is reduced
- Attracting and keeping talent and skills which enable colleges to grow and succeed
The above are only a few things on the Principals to-do list – we are in a changing environment where pace and innovation are becoming part of the norm and having the resources at hand which can help them achieve what is imperative. The other significant thing I have learnt is how much impact an interim executive has on an organisation in such a short space of time. Whilst I have been travelling the country to meet CEOs, I have also invested time in identifying a highly skilled talent pool of interim executives who are able to walk into any of these organisations (within hours) and deliver the required impact. An understanding of this sector is important; however learning from other sectors is just as important. I have witnessed it and I have to say I have been highly impressed! If only I had known the value of this when I was spending days and weeks recruiting, only to find 6 months later the business had moved on and I needed a different set of skills.
So, what do I think the challenges will be for this year? I believe the need for being ‘commercial’ is going to continue with the added pressure of delivering at a faster pace with an agile workforce. Being agile will offer flexibility not just in recruitment but also in how projects are delivered which will be sustainable for future growth of colleges. After the area-based reviews have concluded there will again be a period of change and the need for learning a different way to lead these multi-million pound organisations.
I will leave you with a thought – imagine if you never had to add to your headcount ever again but still attracted people who were at the top of their profession and delivered results. We can make this happen for you.
Narinder Uppal, Consultant