An Interview with Tara Phillis on the CEO/COO relationship – The Venturers Trust

Tell us about yourself and your professional background

I am the Director of Operations at the Venturers Trust in Bristol. My professional background has been in a mixture of private and public sector organisations. When I moved into education I began as the head of HR, later became Director of HR, and now hold my current position as the Director of Operations. The Venturers Trust currently has twelve sites, many of which are operating in challenging socio-economic contexts. 

 

How would you describe your role within the trust? 

I am one of six members of the trust’s executive team. I head a team of 40 staff who provide all the central services, including ICT, finance, HR, health and safety, safeguarding, inclusion, school improvement models (centrally), and facilities. Our central team don’t just work in the central office, they also hot-desk, working in different schools around the trust, so they’re regularly out and about, visible and mobile, visiting all of our schools and developing relationships across the trust.

I see my role as service based; it is ultimately to enable our schools to achieve the highest pupil outcomes possible. I deliver on the business elements of running the trust that individual schools don’t necessarily have the staff capacity or specialist knowledge to deliver. A large part of that role is to take the responsibility for efficiencies and stream-lining across the trust, automation and innovation, protecting school income streams, and to make sure that we provide value for money. This means that teaching professionals don’t have to spend time on these things or have to worry about them; through our centralisation model we’re taking it off their plate. In turn this allows them to focus their full capacity on school improvement and our pupil’s learning and educational experience. It’s an effective way of ensuring that everyone can focus their energies in the areas where their expertise lie, which helps us to be more successful as a trust.

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