Drew Richardson-Walsh – “It’s ironic that I’ve learnt more about FE since not working in it”
I would never claim to know it all about anything, but I did feel pretty clued-up on the FE and skills sector before joining Peridot Partners in May 2017. In the last [almost] 11 months I have been proved wrong time and time again and I am so very glad of that.
I have learnt more about the sector through providing services to it, than being a senior leader in it.
Here’s a few reasons why I think that is:
1) At Peridot, I am encouraged to listen, to learn and to understand.
Whilst working in the sector it sometimes felt impossible to take time out to have a sandwich, let alone read a sector-wide government plan and consider its implications on the business plan of the organisation. Now though, through taking the time to understand the challenges across the sector, across diverse colleges and education providers, I truly feel able to consult, to advise and share best practice from others who are doing a great job and as a commercial business, I think we at Peridot have a duty to do this for the sector we are servicing. After all, a large focus for me has been attracting superb talent into the sector, into both executive and non-exec roles and potential candidates need to have their questions answered in order for them to apply – the last thing they want is a consultant who doesn’t understand or who makes it up as they go along.
2) Through meeting with incredible leadership and management.
I’ve always been very curious about people and their careers, and this job encourages my fascination. I think it’s simply brilliant that I get to work with some fantastic people who put students at the forefront of their work. These people inspire me with their stories of enabling social mobility, of having vision and drive for the most vulnerable learners in our society and work their socks off to provide excellent learning and social opportunities for students of every age. I particularly like the leaders who don’t see FE as a ‘Cinderella story’ but crack on and do the very best the resources available to them. Through my current role I have met so many inspirational leaders who have encouraged the work which we do at Peridot, have guided our thoughts and understanding and challenged us on our opinion. I love it.
3) Because I work with the best executive search consultants around.
I know I work with the very best executive search consultants and researchers in the business. Yes, I am biased, but when others have approached me to join their company I’ve said no without hesitation. In these last 12 months I have learnt my new trade, its nuances and executive search and selection skills. Whilst I have been learning, my colleagues have been learning too. I’m lucky in that we’re not precious about sharing information or supporting each other, in fact an honest discussion and information sharing is widely encouraged. I’ve had to help educate my colleagues about the education sector we’re servicing; and we’re all still learning, but that’s not stopping us doing a great job of delivering for our clients every time.
As I approach my 1 year mark with Peridot Partners, I’d like to thank all of my clients at Stoke on Trent College, Coventry College, the East Sussex College Group, Hopwood Hall College, Richmond upon Thames College, New City College London, Nottingham College, the Federation of Awarding Bodies and Birmingham Metropolitan College – thank you for furthering my understanding of the sector and for your positive feedback. It’s been a blast!
Drew Richardson-Walsh leads the search and selection of senior and non-executive roles in further education and skills at Peridot Partners and is quickly becoming the ‘go to’ consultant for board-level/Governor recruitment.
For an informal discussion please contact him on 07739 364 033 or at firstname.lastname@example.org