Judith Hunt worked in the public sector for years before shifting to education. She shares some of her journey and why she loves working as Operations Director at Ark Victoria. Judith's story is part of our #ArkPeople series.
I'm originally from Preston, but our family moved to Birmingham when I was a teenager. My generation wasn't encouraged to do A levels or to attend university. Most of us finished school at 16 and got a job.
I started at West Midlands County Council and worked in nearly every department, including transportation, highways, housing, and social services. I particularly enjoyed working in the finance department and went on to gain accounting qualifications, as well as a Master's in public administration. I became involved in the Local Management of Schools – a government policy that aimed to support schools to run more efficiently – which sparked my interest in the education sector. I moved to James Brindley School, where I worked alongside the principal to set up the school as an academy.
After 17 years at the school, I was ready for a new challenge and applied for the Finance and Resources Director role at Ark St Albans. Working at the school opened many opportunities to work across the network, to enhance my skills and to draw on my past experience. When Ark Victoria joined the network, it was clear that finance and operations would need separate functions, so I was asked to take on the operations role and manage the transition. When Ark Chamberlain and Ark Boulton joined the network, I worked on this project, putting in processes to match our practices. It was a busy but exciting time. I collaborated with team members, problem-solved, communicated with stakeholders, and managed competing priorities to ensure schools were successfully embedded into Ark.
"Whether you're a lunchtime supervisor or an executive principal, we all recognise that no matter our job, we're contributing to ensuring children thrive."
What shines about Ark is our whole ethos of educating children, and what resonates with me is our values, which our CEO Lucy Heller, encourages us all to embody. Whether you're a lunchtime supervisor or an executive principal, we all recognise that no matter our job, we're contributing to ensuring children thrive.
We work as a community, as a network, not as individuals but as a team. That's one of the best aspects of being in Ark, especially in the Birmingham region, where we really support and boost one other. During covid, it was tremendously hard as so much fell to us, but colleagues like Jaqueline Russell (Ark's Chief Operating Officer) and Laurie Grist (Ark's Director of People and Projects) kept us motivated. We'd go into meetings and say, "Come on, we can do it."
I've been at Ark Victoria for five years, and while the last few years have been tough, we're an incredible school, and that's down to the efforts of every staff member. I adore my job, and I wouldn't choose to be anywhere else!
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