60 seconds with… Melissa Singer

Melissa Singer, business manager at Selwood Academy, tells us about leaping from a plane and wearing her top inside out!

What led to your current role?

I decided to leave my beloved business manager role at a special school I’d been with for 18 years to move into the world of academisation and mainstream education. Scared, but excited, about the challenges ahead I took up the role of finance and premises manager in the school where I am now the business leader. When I left my school of 18 years I had set a goal to work towards becoming an academy business leader within five years; my determination and commitment paid off when I actually achieved my goal at the five-year mark that I had originally set myself. Fate, some may say!

Tell us something unusual or interesting about yourself.

In 2018 I did a skydive with two other colleagues to raise funds for charity. Jumping out of an aeroplane at 10,000ft was exhilarating – and think I shocked my friends and family in wanting to do it – but having them there to witness it was a memory I will always treasure. I will always remember after freefalling, and opening the parachute, my professional tandem jumper saying, “Welcome to my office!” Has to be the best office ever!

What has been your favourite aspect of working as a school business professional so far?

It has to be as simple as knowing that all that you do – day in, day out – through the ups and the downs, ultimately benefits the pupils, the staff and the entire school community, which is extremely rewarding.

How do you ensure that you continue to grow personally and professionally?

By keeping an open mind and recognising that you can learn from everyone you come in to contact with, and vice versa. I have also found it’s necessary to dedicate time specifically for my own CPD. It’s so easy to forget about yourself when a huge part of your job role is about providing support and guidance for others, so you tend to put your own needs last and can quite often feel isolated.

Where do you take inspiration from, both work and life-wise?

My mum and my two beautiful daughters are my utmost inspiration in life. My girls are the reason I do all that I do and, as a full-time working mum, I have had to juggle many things to ensure they know they are always my priority but still understand the commitment I have to my profession too!

What three words would you use to describe your role?

Ever evolving, rewarding, challenging.

If there was one thing about your job you could change, what would it be?

I adore my job on the whole but, in my 26-year career in the education sector, the one thing that becomes tiresome is the need to justify and clarify your position for various reasons, some of which have been a) because I’m a woman in leadership, b) because I’m a non-teaching member of a senior leadership team and c) because my route into leadership is not deemed ‘traditional’. It would be nice to see some change in these misconceptions of the profession and, of course, to ensure that pay is commensurate with the responsibilities and accountability that comes with SBM roles.

Funniest SBM moment you’d care to share?

There have been far too many to mention in detail, from being caught on CCTV falling over, and arriving at work with your top inside out, to creasing up when an interview candidate said a ‘naughty’ word inadvertently – my composure going out the window, not able to hold back the laughter, so much so that tears start to fall!

Whatever happens, I truly believe that laughter is the best medicine and boy, do we laugh often!

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