Before joining Cranleigh I worked in the world of elite sport for over 20 years looking after individual sports players and teams in football, golf and rugby. I always knew that if I couldn’t play sport for a living, then I would submerge myself in the industry. I am lucky to have worked through three Rugby World Cups and travelled the world for golf. My previous roles were all focused around helping individuals or teams do their job to the best of their ability without having to worry about any of the logistics or administration. Ultimately, their job was playing sport at the highest level so my job was to take everything else away whilst ensuring they were in the right place at the right time, wearing the right brands and completing all the administration that goes with being a top athlete.
Working in sport meant long and unsociable hours and a lot of travelling so, after my two children started school, I realised they needed me a lot more than grown sportsmen and women! I live locally and had been looking for a new role where I could continue to help make people’s life easier by bringing a wealth of experience of problem-solving and organisation skills. I knew about Cranleigh and just happened to look on the website when it was advertising for a PA to the Headmaster. I joined in December 2018.
If you had asked me what my job was at the beginning of 2020 I would have described it as a busy PA to the Headmaster role where no two days are the same. My role spans across the whole School and I constantly switch between discussing pupils, parents, teachers, support areas –such as finance, HR, admissions, medical centre – and everything in between. I had never been part of a boarding environment before and I underestimated how much work goes in to running a school of this size. Essentially my job is to make the Headmaster’s role easier allowing him to focus on the bigger picture.
However, since March 2020, my office has been renamed Covid HQ. I knew I would enjoy crisis management but this has been something where the goalposts change almost daily. It has been a fascinating time for contingency planning. We want to reassure the school community that Cranleigh is prepared, on top of Government Guidelines we have a system in place in the event of a positive case. It isn’t easy to stay one step ahead of the situation and to try and minimize the impact on pupils and their education. The Senior Management Team has the most amazing skill set and between us all we planned within an inch of our lives what is likely to happen. I love being part of that group and being on the ‘front line’. I was taught by one of the greatest sports agents who told me “learn everything about your client, become part of the family but don’t overstep the mark, become indispensable to them but ensure you are appreciated, be the person they want to ring first”. My phone continues to ring throughout the day which I am taking as a good sign and hopefully people know I am there to help if I can.
Having worked in a team environment in the past I love the fact that Cranleigh is one team, all trying to achieve one goal. The pupils come first and I can relate to that from working with sports teams where the players come first. The teachers are like the coaches and the bursarial staff are like the backbone of the team. There are so many similar comparisons. But more than anything, after a very short time here, I felt like I had a group of people that had my back and I could lean on for advice or support.