Head to Head with Steve Bulmer, Director of Operations at Learning Academy Partnership
Your current title / role:
Director of Operations / CFO of Learning Academy Partnership (South West)
Brief career background
I started my career in Edinburgh as a pensions administrator in the early 1980's then went on to become Senior Account Manager winning national awards. I then became General Manager in a large independent firm of chartered accountants leading the financial services division. Sitting on a number of Charity Boards during this time and since gave me the opportunity to learn my craft from some of the best business minds.
My career changed in 2003 when I set up a company advising Local Authorities, PLCs and SMEs on Mergers, Re-structures, Process Management and Turn-Arounds. Working with LAs and education companies over a number of years gave me strong footings to bring my commercial skills to the education sector and then the Learning Academy Partnership (South West). I originally came to do some consultancy work for the Trust and fell in love with the passion and skill for transforming children's lives which is overwhelming from all our amazing staff. I was then asked if I would like to take on my current role.
What does a typical working day look like?
Taking responsibility for all the operational/business side of the Trust, there is no typical day! This is one of the most exciting things I enjoy about the role. One minute it may be HR, the next it's IT then Estates and Services, then Finance, Marketing and Strategy. I am lucky to have an amazing team of professionals working with me to deliver gold standard central services to our schools and ultimately assist the wider team in providing the best outcomes for our children.
My last twelve months has found me focusing on enhancing the business systems and processes, which means we are now in a really strong position to invite other schools to join the trust, working together for the benefit of all children.
My role involves a lot of office based work, but I make it my priority to get out to all of our schools to catch up with both staff and children. Doing so continually reminds me of what it's all about and ensures we keep the main thing the main thing.
What did you have for dinner last night?
I'm trying to eat healthy at the moment so I had pan seared salmon with new potatoes, broccoli and baby carrots. I even skipped dessert which is hard for a sugar junkie!
What was the last piece of music you listened to?
Queen's Greatest Hits
What was your favourite and most hated subject when you were at school?
I had two favourites when I was at school, Maths and Computing. Worst was Geography, I think mainly because the teacher wasn't that great, rather than the subject itself.
What is the best thing about your job?
It has to be the variety, as well as the ability to use my business skills creatively and see how it makes a real impact on the lives and outcomes of our children.
If you could change one thing about the current education system what would it be?
Every child is precious and I know from our Trust how important it is to be committed to transforming life chances... But if I could change one thing about the current education system, it would be inequalities, both in the inequalities of family circumstances into which children are born and the opportunities that they have throughout life. Together with the free access to an exceptional, outstanding school for every child to flourish into being the best that they can be.
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