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Hadlow College - Executive of the Year

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Company: Hadlow College, Hadlow Kent, United Kingdom
Company Description: Hadlow College is situated in Hadlow, Tonbridge, Kent UK providing Higher and Further Education courses. Ofsted rated 'Outstanding' it is Kent's only land based college offering courses in Agriculture, Horticulture and other land based subjects. The college also boasts a number of commercial enterprises including a Garden Centre and Tearoom, Farm Shop and Commercial Glass Houses.
Nomination Category: Management Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Executive of the Year - Non-Profit or Government Organizations

Nomination Title: Mark Lumsdon-Taylor, Deputy Principal and CEO

Tell the story about what this nominated executive has achieved since 1 January 2016 (up to 650 words). Describe the impact he or she has had on your organization. Focus on specific accomplishments, and relate these accomplishments to past performance or industry norms.

Mark is an atypical public sector executive; he believes in implanting private sector principles to enable the institution to provide exemplar services needed/deserved by ‘customers’.

It isn’t just ‘words’ for Mark – he genuinely cares. The ‘customers’ are the college’s students, partners and stakeholders. Services provided must be transparent and stand up to the scrutiny that would be applied in the private sector.

Achieving these fundamental ideal has meant that Mark has had to persuade, inspire, motivate and guide disparate groups of staff to share a vision – to believe that objectives can be achieved when global and national downturns and uncertainties threaten stability and growth.

Mark rose from Director Finance and Resources to current role less than two years’ ago;since been instrumental in exploring/developing innovative strategies way beyond the role of a ‘normal’ college. He says ‘It’s all about team work. Valuing every member of staff and recognising individual contributions is fundamental’. Mark makes a point of genuinely knowing every member of staff. ‘Communications are lifeblood that starts with staff. They are the most important players and need to know that without their contributions we cannot succeed.’

Money talks. Money matters. All parts of UK public sector have suffered government cuts resulting in instability and staff and stakeholder concern and anxiety. Hadlow has not been immune to the problems but they have been competently managed by Mark so enabling the institution to maintain stability combined with growth.

Mark believes that ‘growth’ for growth’s sake is merely vanity. Hadlow College created – and leads - the Hadlow Group. Every part of the Group is life-changing, fulfils a need, a purpose. If one part of the Group failed, the gap would be disastrous – yet…without Mark’s vision, Hadlow would have remained small, without influence for the greater good.

Taking as an example of ‘vision’: Hadlow College’s core business is rooted in the Rural sector. Mark recognised that ‘Rural’ is fundamental to our way of life economically and socially. ‘Rural’ provides food; largely manages ‘the countryside’; makes positive contributions to the landscape; is a protector of the environment; provides health-promoting access to thousands of people. He appreciated that lack of unity weakened the Rural sector’s voice;he set about creating ‘glue’. He is: Board member Kent County Agricultural Society, Board member Rural PLC, Kent Ambassador. He encouraged launch of Rural Focus Press Group and the Rural Business group. He is also a member of the IOD Kent and senior Council member CBI.

Mark believes one of the most valuable words in a manager’s vocabulary is listening. Listening to ‘customers’, staff, and stakeholders, he says: ‘Everyone has a part to play in extending success. That is fundamental to our culture.’

Mark Lumsdon-Taylor, just 26, appointed Director of Finance and Resources, formerly corporate finance in London, to lead a unique Turnaround and corporate Financial Restructure. A unique and simple fiscal rule; 3 segments of Further education, Higher Education and Commerciality. Mark does not quit – he does not believe in the no win scenario.

Over 12 years Hadlow College has undergone three turnarounds in one. One, Saving Hadlow college and creating a £17million business with over 3500 students Graded outstanding in 2010 with excellent financial health (£10m positive assets); Two, expanding the business under 3 strategic targets to form UK’s first rural school, The UK’s largest urban Olympic equestrian research Centre and creation of a £40m regeneration program in East Kent enabling 1000 jobs to be made. Thirdly, the winning of K college against national competition, a £65m public sector liability, creating a new institution within 18 months, creating the Hadlow Group servicing over 10,000 students, 1,400 staff and a £49m turnover. This is unique in the Public Sector.

Mark achieved this by simple mantra ‘break preconceptions, work with what you have’. Take calculated risks, play the odds. Charismatic leadership backed by financial and business structure. Have plan B!

In bullet-list form, briefly summarize up to ten (10) of the chief accomplishments of this nominated executive since the beginning of 2016.

-Unique business model to acquire and transform bankrupt and OFSTED inadequate K College saving government £35m, transforming 4,500 student lives. Hadlow unique financial/educational model
-Completed two major reorganisations in 12 months, removing 200 staff, and creating 70 new roles, rebranded as two new colleges; secured £25m investment new campus with no increase in bank debt
-Replication of the Hadlow Turnaround to create UK first Rural School @ £7m
-Appointed Deputy Principal and Deputy CEO The Hadlow Group. (Previously Director Finance and Resources
-Opened UK’s first Free School with rural ethos (oversubscribed)
-Saved community’s pre-school when in financial difficulties
-Acquired Produced in Kent (membership organisation for promotion of Kent food, drink and crafts in partnership-KCC)
-Undertaken major regenerations programme (Betteshanger Sustainable Parks in East Kent) involving creation 1,000 jobs historically deprived area (£40m scheme)
-CSR/Sustainability award winning plan fully implemented
-Pride in leading focused, motivated, exceptional team