Reinventing Me

I have recently been told “it’s time to get your heels back on and reinvent yourself”


When life dealt me a card that made me evaluate my next career move, I started to consider academies and specialising in finance. I loved the SBM role and had always been engaged in the whole life of the school, but the drama of 2020 had made me fall out of love with the generalist SBM role. I was ready to take my next quantum leap over to the darkside (my own joke!) into the academy world. It was time to say goodbye to @SBMCoventry.


I was just starting my journey studying L7 Cipfa qualification with ISBL and already had L2 AAT, and after 16 years working in local authority primary schools, I started to seek out academy and secondary roles. I admit the centralised business model, the benefits and all the MAT opportunities really interested me.


There was a vacancy for a Head of Finance role for a MAT based in a local secondary school. The salary seemed very attractive but when I read through the job description and it asked for x, y and z, something which I didn’t have yet,

I didn’t believe in myself enough that I was the right candidate, so I didn’t bother applying.

The next vacancy was based in a secondary school and was a thirty-minute drive away. The title was Academy Business Manager but had the support of centralised services as part of a small MAT. I read through the JD and PS for the role and thought it sounded right for me. I scoured the school’s website for the school team details, read through their last two Ofsted reports and chatted with the Director of Operations. It sounded a great fit so I fired off my application.


I was called for an interview the following week and was excited and nervous at the same time. I decided to travel by taxi on the interview day to give me extra reading time whilst travelling.


I don’t know what happened but the closer I got to the school, I had an overwhelming feeling of failure. I just couldn’t do it. I didn’t want it.

I was turning into that Damien kid from the Omen film (you know the bit where he kicks off in the car as he doesn’t want to go to Church) so I asked the taxi driver to take me home after he had literally pulled up outside the school gates!


This was not my best moment in life, but you know, when you have that gut feeling something isn’t right for you, you have to listen to the inner you. I was not feeling brave that day; forty quid out of pocket and thirty-minutes later, I’d arrived back outside my own front door feeling a bit of a failure. I have laughed about this with friends since so I have got over it.


It was time for some moral support from #SBLtwitter, so I found old blogs from @accidentalsbm @cherylsbm and @workingsbm I read through their stories of transitioning from primary to secondary school roles, believing in yourself and being your own champion. Laura Williams (@laurajbusiness) had been my SBM Coach behind the scenes and had offered solid advice to sell myself positively, and to get out of the taxi next time!


I fired off my next application for a secondary academy role. This was supporting the SBM in finance and facilities management. I wasn’t successful at interview but going through the test; having an interview, gave me such a boost.


I took their feedback on board and reflected on my own answers. I knew I would do better next time.


Then I spotted the advert for a Senior Finance Administrator for a MAT. This was a role within the newly formed centralised finance team. I scoured the school’s websites for the team details and built the MAT hierarchy in my head.

During my interview I answered every question with confidence as an experienced SBM would. I promoted both my strengths and weaknesses with positivity and honesty. I had shared what had worked well and not so well in previous roles. I was reflective as both a manager and a leader.

I understood the MAT vision and shared my enthusiasm to be a part of it. This was a fantastic new opportunity to be challenged and #tenpercentbraver learning something new. So, when the call came a few days later that I had been successful, I was so overwhelmed I cried!

So here I am as @SfaRachel (ok, I know the tagname isn’t the best, I can always change it later) but I’m ready to karate kick 2020 and grab all the new opportunities in 2021 with both hands. I am eager to learn everything academy, although I might need some help with accruals and prepayments!


I’m feeling #tenpercentbraver about the new year ahead. I am moving into a specialist role and will always have the children’s interests at heart and will do my utmost to make a difference. They are the next generation and deserve the best education.


A friend sent me a photo with the words:


“Don’t be afraid to start over. This time you’re not starting from scratch, you’re starting from experience”.

That will be my focus for January 2021.

Believe in yourself #sbltwitter Go out and grab that new job opportunity. Sign up for that CPD course you’ve always wanted. Learn from mistakes and grow. Challenge yourself and get the fire burning. Promote all that you have achieved during this crazy year.


Who knows what 2021 will bring you?

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