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Chief Financial Officer Coventry College

Lead the development of strategic finance and corporate services at Coventry College as their Chief Financial Officer. As part of the senior leadership team, reporting to the Principal & CEO, you will oversee high-quality business services, financial planning, and control, whilst contributing to an ever-improving student experience.

  • Location: Coventry
  • Salary: circa £90k

About the Role

Following the appointment of Carol Thomas as our Principal & CEO in August 2020, Coventry College has undergone rapid transformation and improvement – the likes of which have not previously been experienced in the further education sector.  Now, with good financial health, confidence from the banks and stakeholders, and with capital investment being made into the facilities to grow and enhance the curriculum offer, we look forward to welcoming an experienced strategic finance and corporate services leader as our next Chief Financial Officer.

As CFO, you will be responsible to both Carol and the Board of Governors for the effective leadership of finance, human resources and organisational development, IT and digital services, management information services and funding, examinations and compliance, health and safety, catering services, estates, and facilities management. This is a broad and strategic role that leads through a team of specialist managers who are working hard to improve financial and organisational reporting, compliance and control, service delivery and student experience. Whilst being the most senior accountant in the organisation, we need you to recognise how important strong and healthy finances are in ensuring students continue to have access to constantly improving, high-quality teaching, learning and resources, whilst also enabling budget holders to understand their responsibilities.

The change which has been experienced by Coventry College has been rapid. From a position of near insolvency in 2020, we now report excellent financial health, and we expect this to further improve because of our approved estates strategy and the investment made to deliver innovative curriculum solutions in response to regional skills needs. Our investment will be focused on developing learning and training spaces to deliver sustainable construction, automotive electrification and battery-powered vehicles, and digital.

As CFO, you will need to be both visible in the College and comfortable translating data into plans. It is important to us that staff have access to your expertise and advice, and that you work to provide solutions to challenges across the areas of the business under your control. As part of a hard-working senior leadership team, and through an aspirant and dedicated management team, your role will be to ensure everyone recognises their fiscal responsibilities whilst also driving innovation and value for money in order to achieve positive outcomes for students and employees. By achieving this we will deliver a successful and integrated FE college for the City of Coventry.

Who we're looking for

Coventry College is aspirational for itself and for the city which we serve. Recent times have proved significantly difficult for the College, though we are pleased to be in a very different position today.

Professionally qualified, you will be an expert in successfully leading and improving both organisational finances and corporate services in a similarly complex organisation. Our CFO will continue to lead the financial recovery work for Coventry College and work closely with an expert Board of Governors, and talented senior team. Recognising that the funding for our college is highly complex and challenging, it would be ideal for us to appoint someone with experience of leading similar functions in a college, though we don’t believe that experience to be essential. Instead, and if you are considering applying for this role without ‘FE experience’ then you must be able to quickly learn and adapt. In either case, the CFO who is appointed will need to be resilient and dedicated to the challenge ahead of us in continuing to turn our college around financially, reputationally and educationally.

Over the past two years, we have worked tirelessly to better understand our areas for improvement through a forensic review of finance, curriculum and business support services. Whilst we are pleased with the significant progress made, we have high expectations of this post-holder in supporting the sustainable development of Coventry College for the communities we serve.

As a highly experienced and professionally qualified finance leader, we expect no ‘stone unturned’ when considering the need to deliver plans which will realise organisational improvement, the focus on efficient use of the College’s budget and plans around future investment. You will be the lead representative of the College with our banks, funders, relevant stakeholders, and partners – and so you must be comfortable in relationship management and meeting their expectations.

The future looks positive for Coventry College and the organisation has the support of local and regional stakeholders from the public, civic, education and commercial sectors. Recognising the importance of our College in the City and region, we need someone who has the drive and determination to work hard and ensure a lasting legacy through the delivery of a high-performing, high-quality and financially resilient college.

For further information about the role, or to arrange a confidential discussion, please contact our advising consultant at Peridot Partners:

Drew Richardson-Walsh | drew@peridotpartners.co.uk | 07739 364033

Education recruitment with Drew Richardson-Walsh

If you would like to know more about this role please contact Drew Richardson-Walsh

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Welcome from Principal and CEO 

Dear Candidate,

Thank you for your interest in joining a new Senior Leadership Team at Coventry College.

You will be joining the College at a really exciting time as we have recently undergone a period of rapid change with accelerated performance in relation to our financial position, a removal of all external regulatory intervention and a rebuilding of local area confidence and trust.  But as always, in the further education sector, there is still much more to do.    In my experience, this type of transformation lends itself to having a leadership team that has a small and flat structure, because we all need to be getting things done in a way that can make best use of our experience and therefore make a meaningful impact.

We recently appointed Patrick Geary as Vice Principal Curriculum Innovation, Quality & Performance to support our Vice Principal for Business Growth, Engagement & Partnerships, Gemma Knott, and myself, which is a real coup for the College. Our leadership team is nearly complete, and once the new Chief Financial Officer starts working with us, I expect this team to be one that is here to provide stability for the College over the coming years – something that is much needed to further embed the culture change required.

The national focus of further education is about providing the next generation with the right level of training for jobs, so it is key that our college is working with employers to understand their needs, in order for us to create a meaningful pathway for our students which also fulfils local area employment needs. We have now devised a three-year plan around strategic skills to understand how we can meet those needs by growing the capabilities of our existing facilities and teaching staff.

In January, we took the bold decision to close down one of our campuses and transition to one campus in the city centre.  The College has since received some much-needed and overdue investment. Having a single campus from September 2021 with up to 8,000 students has helped us to create a vibrant and modern atmosphere for both students and our staff.

Coventry College is an exciting place to work. It is busy, varied and challenging – as of course all educational establishments are. It has also been difficult for some staff to adapt to such massive change, but they are now starting to see the positive impact of the decisions made, and the benefits of the time and investment being paid to them as individuals. I am pleased to see how this is positively impacting the service being provided to our students.

My vision for the College is to be a place where people want to study and know they are going to get high-quality education. I want us to be consistently good in every aspect of our business.  If you share that vision, have the ambition and energy to help us achieve what we need to, and in the relatively short space of time available, then I very much welcome your application.

Carol Thomas

Principal & CEO

Coventry College

Coventry College will provide excellence in all areas of its provision with consistently high outcomes.

Coventry College was formed in August 2017 and is the largest provider of general further education in the city. We have a turnover of £23.5m and deliver a broad curriculum to around 8,000 young people and adults across a range of exciting and dynamic subject areas from entry level to higher education. The curriculum offer includes vocational, technical and professional education and training designed to meet the needs of the local community and economy.

Building upon the rich histories of its predecessor colleges, City College and Henley College, Coventry College can trace its origins back to the 19th century with the formation of the Mechanics Institution in 1829.  Both predecessor colleges have a proud history of working closely with their communities and industry and this remains a key part of Coventry College’s ethos and vision to provide exceptional education, skills and training.

We aspire to be outstanding by offering a portfolio of programmes that are regularly reviewed to ensure relevance, currency and that meet the local area economic needs.

We will be at the heart of the education ecosystem with strategic employer partnerships at a regional level. Key strategic partners will include Coventry Local Authority, the West Midlands Combined Authority, the ESFA, the Chamber of Commerce and the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP). We will also ensure excellent practice with regard to strong articulation with universities, school partnerships, and employer partnerships to explore future skills needs, innovation and in-work training.

Helping young people and adults to aspire to change their lives and those of their families and to help businesses to improve and grow; and through our work, strengthen the communities in which they work.

In 2021, the College moved all operations to the City Campus. With over £1m having already been invested in the single campus, further developments are planned to ensure students have access to high quality and vibrant learning spaces and facilities.

Our vision is underpinned with a set of core values:

  • Learner first: We will put learners at the heart of everything that we do and have high aspirations that support and challenge everyone.
  • Inclusivity: We will be open to all learners, offering a safe environment that celebrates diversity.
  • Excellence: We will strive for excellence in all aspects of our business, enabling everyone to realise their full potential in a positive, caring and inspiring environment.
  • Trust: We will create a culture of trust and demonstrate value for our staff, learners, stakeholders and partners.
  • Transparency: We will engage with both internal and external stakeholders, seeking input, welcoming feedback and reporting openly with clarity to continuously improve our performance.
  • Respect: We will demonstrate respect for each other within our college community and with external stakeholders to build trust, confidence and well-being.

Coventry is a dynamic and thriving city, with a huge range of growth, innovation and regeneration drivers, albeit with significant socio-economic disparities to overcome in order to ensure these opportunities are fully grasped by the city’s residents.

The West Midlands is the largest regional economy in the UK with a labour market of national significance. The city of Coventry has the fastest growing ‘young’ population outside of London. The two factors combined, alongside a region of excellent connectivity and key sector strengths (advanced manufacturing, digital) provide an innovative environment for growth and prosperity.

We, at Coventry College, understand that different members of the community have different access needs, and have made some modifications to the way we do business in order to accommodate people from diverse communities and abilities. We offer the following amenities:

  • Our buildings and facilities have step-free access
  • We have meeting rooms that support hearing loops
  • Accessibility dogs are always welcome on our premises
  • Papers and materials can be presented in different formats if needed
  • We would be happy to source a sign language interpreter if required
  • We provide a flexible working environment, including locations

Adjustable, ergonomic offices chairs and arm rests on chairs to support employees who have wrist or hand injuries

Keyboard rests to support employees that suffer with repetitive strain injury

Access to disabled toilets

Carpentered floor so wheeled chairs do not slip on the floor

DSE Assessments

Phased return where an employee has been off from work for a period of time. The first week back would be half a day, with a gradual increase in working hours over a four-week period

For more information visit the Coventry College website.

If you have any further needs around accessibility, please get in touch with the advising consultant for a confidential chat on how we can best fulfill your needs.

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    For further information about the role, or to arrange a confidential discussion, please contact our advising consultant at Peridot Partners:

    Drew Richardson-Walsh | drew@peridotpartners.co.uk | 07739 364033

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    Closing date: 12 p.m. Monday 25th April 2022

    Candidates informed of outcome: By 5 p.m. Friday 29th April 2022

    First Stage Interviews: Tuesday 10th May 2022

    Second Stage Interviews: Tuesday 17th May 2022

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