Case Study: A Purposefully Future-Fit Ecosystem of Educational Excellence - Future Leadership

Case Study: A Purposefully Future-Fit Ecosystem of Excellence

The Brief

CREST Education is a rapidly growing educational ecosystem catering for 2200 students from ELC – Year 12. Their dynamic ecosystem includes Rivercrest Christian College, Hillcrest Christian College, an Equestrian Centre and Environmental Reserve at Clyde North. A Senior Learning Precinct which will offer VCE, IB Diploma and VCAT pathways will open in 2024.

The Executive Principal and Board of CREST Education recognised it was at a critical point in its growth journey to achieve its Principal purpose as a Christian school of Excellence. It sought to partner with Future Leadership to help deliver:

    • A future ready leadership structure and composition for its mature model of CREST Education.
    • Determine the top six future capabilities for CREST to support any future key appointments required.
    • Determine the opportunities for growth to support the current leaders in the future.

A Comprehensive Leadership Structure Review & Roadmap for the Future

The CLA team in conjunction with Jenny Ethell, Education Advisor for Fisher Leadership commenced a comprehensive leadership structure review process consisting of:

      • Briefings and opportunities to understand current state and emerging conditions, and future capabilities required
      • Review of relevant materials and research in relation to current and future strategy and structures
      • Workshops with the current school leadership team to understand blockages, opportunities and future capabilities including completing EL Assessments to understand current capabilities and opportunities for future growth as well as team capability
      • Creation and exploration of possible future organisational and leadership structures and associated benefits, risks, opportunities and transition plans.
      • Development of future Capability Matrix and mapping this to leadership roles and capabilities required for future talent acquisition

The final report was presented to the CREST Executive Principal and Board for discussion and finalisation. The recommended structure and capability matrix for future appointments was adopted, and upon finalisation, leadership roles were defined and position descriptions were created for each.

“Our sincere thanks for the exceptional work you have done, Jenny and Lisa. Your ability to grasp so much so quickly has been hugely impressive – you ‘got us’ very quickly as demonstrated by the accuracy of your recommendations.“
Brendan Kelly

Executive Principal

Phase Two

It was at this time that a key member of the CREST team moved into a new role. Gig Executive were immediately engaged to assist with the urgent appointment of an Interim Head of People, Strategy and Culture, for a six-month term whilst the leadership structure change was underway. The school board and Principal sought an individual experienced in navigating transformative and cultural shifts, capable of providing both operational and strategic HR advice.

The Gig Executive team sprung into action and quickly produced an assessed short list of candidates with proven success in people and culture roles specialising in strategy and risk management, and culturally aligned to the values of CREST Education. Glenn Borg had recently concluded an interim assignment at a prominent boys’ school and brought over two decades of experience spanning professional services, local governance, and independent educational institutions. This wealth of expertise equipped him to strategically advise on people-focused strategies, ensuring operational effectiveness during a crucial phase.

Commencing within three weeks of the client briefing, Glenn’s impact on the organisation was immediate and impressive. Hear what Executive Principal Brendan Kelly and Gig Executive Glenn Borg had to say about the experience.

Executive Principal

Brendan Kelly, Executive Principal

Why would you recommend considering interim talent?

“I would recommend considering interim talent as a great solution at any time, but particularly for those times when an organisation needs a “holding pattern” in a key executive role while undertaking a wider change. To be able to bring in a top executive to deliver crucial services while a restructure is taking place, enables high quality service delivery in a time when a culture of uncertainty could otherwise develop. For us, we were very grateful for the work of our Interim Head of People, Strategy and Culture while we transitioned to a new leadership model. Having an exceptionally skilled person delivering high level outcomes in the People, Strategy and Culture space ensured that our transitional processes were of a very high standard, while at the same time ensuring that the normal operational expectations of that area could also be met in a skilled and timely manner.”

What are the key advantages of engaging an interim?

“A key advantage for us was in the immediacy of service delivery. When we had embarked on a process around leadership realignment, we needed an interim person as a key member of our team had separately moved into a new role. This meant that the interim person had to be “ready to go” from the start, and our person from Gig executive exceeded our expectations in this regard.

A further advantage would be the enabling of “road testing” a new structure. We moved to a People, Strategy and Culture model with a direct reporting line to the CEO. This was a change from our previous model and to have an interim appointment has enabled us to refine this new structure. Our interim appointee has been outstanding in this regard and has been able to provide feedback through a “proof of concept” approach. What we found out is that the new model does work, with minor adjustments, and the interim appointee has handed over the directorate in a very good state to the new permanent appointee.”

 

Glenn Borg, Interim Head of People, Strategy & Culture

Why would you recommend considering interim talent?

“The Interim Executive pathway presented an exciting opportunity to engage with various sectors, including education, showcasing my adaptability and that of People & Culture professionals in general. This role allowed me to share my expertise and leadership, providing a platform to build innovative solutions and collaborate with purpose-driven organisations.

Furthermore, the experience emphasised the importance of diversity in thought and backgrounds, enabling a targeted focus, expertise, and efficiency in addressing challenges. This pathway highlighted the value of connecting with different industries and leveraging diverse perspectives to achieve meaningful and effective outcomes.”

What are the key advantages of engaging an interim?

“My key advantages include adaptability and the ability to quickly understand an organisation’s challenges and opportunities, creating effective solutions accordingly. I have a proven track record in leading change and developing strategic people pathways alongside operational improvements. With extensive experience operating at an executive level, I focus not only on the people environment but also on the broader strategic priorities of the organisation.”

What have you enjoyed most about the opportunity to contribute as a Gig Executive?

“I have been actively involved in the development of people strategies, sharing my expertise and knowledge with leaders and the broader organisation. As a member of the executive team, I have not only led the people environment but also significantly influenced broader organisational strategic pathways. Working within complex settings such as education has allowed me to collaborate with leaders and organisations genuinely committed to creating better outcomes for their communities.

Additionally, I have always focused on establishing relationships and working collaboratively to achieve common goals. My diverse background has contributed to creating strategic and operational solutions, bringing different perspectives to life within the organisation. This diversity has enhanced our ability to address challenges effectively and implement meaningful changes.”

Assembling the new future-ready leadership team

Fisher Leadership were engaged to partner in the search process for four permanent positions identified in the endorsed recommended structure:

      • Deputy Principal, Staff and Students
      • Head of People, Strategy and Culture
      • Director of Wellbeing and Student Services
      • Head of Campus – Hillcrest Primary

In conjunction with other members of the Executive, each of the positions play a role in developing strategy and driving continuous improvement to support the goal of being a Christian School of Excellence. A comprehensive search strategy was outlined to the CREST leadership team that combined active approaches within known networks with an online advertising campaign. The Fisher Leadership team managed all aspects of the process providing support and guidance to the CREST leadership team. The search process for all positions was underpinned by the Future Leadership Capability Framework (FLCF) with shortlisted candidates completing psychometric testing measured against six capabilities.

 

APPOINTMENT UPDATES:

Ms Nicole Rietveld was appointed to the position of Deputy Principal, Staff and Students at CREST Education and commenced on 15th April 2024. As CREST Deputy Principal – Staff and Students, Nicole will be enacting the Nurturing Wellbeing strategic pillar, overseeing student and staff wellbeing services, CREST-wide co-curricular opportunities, and staff growth and development.

Mr John Rashed was appointed to the position of Head of People, Strategy and Culture and began in May 2024. In this newly created John will contribute to shaping the organisational structure and culture of CREST Education. Most recently the Chief People Officer at Knox City Council, John has over 20 years’ experience providing advice in all areas of workplace relations.

Ms Angie Ganeshvaran was appointed to the position of Head of Campus – Hillcrest Primary and commenced in May 2024. Currently acting in the position, Angie will provide strategic operational and cultural leadership of Hillcrest Primary and the day-to-day management of learning, wellbeing and operations for students. A passionate educator and dynamic leader, Angie is looking forward to continuing to contribute to the success and vision of CREST Education.

Ms Deborrah Francis was appointed to the position of Director of Wellbeing and Student Services at CREST Education and will commence in Term 3 2024. In this position Deborrah reports directly to the CREST Deputy Principal Staff & Students and is responsible for implementing the CREST strategy and principal purpose of providing a Christian education of excellence. With pastoral care and wellbeing being integral to the CREST environment, this role works to foster and drive initiatives and programs that positively impacts and proactively addresses the social, emotional, physical and intellectual wellbeing needs of students, staff and families. Most recently the Head of Students at St Margaret’s Berwick Grammar, Deborrah is a passionate educational leader with over 30 years’ experience. Deborrah believes when students are placed at the centre of education, wondrous and lasting progress is achieved.

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