Dear OIS community,
Yes, I've been busy (and I had a lovely Diwali break), so you haven't heard from me for a while. The recruiting season is almost upon us, and for me that means busy, busy, busy as I set about the most important part of my job. The most effective way for me to make this school into the very best it can be is to hire the very best teachers I can. That's why recruiting is so very important.
The season actually starts next week, with a recruitment fair in Bangkok which is for international school leadership candidates. I'm looking for a primary principal to help us get the second campus up and running to the same standard as the present school. I think we've set the bar pretty high on this campus, so I'm looking for someone very special.
Actually, the recruitment fair itself is only a small part of the process. Already I have spent hours searching through the candidate database, and I have identified eight very promising educators that I'm in touch with. It's important to make this early contact, to start the conversation, to begin to build the relationship.
Only one out of the eight had even considered a move to India. To the other seven it had never occurred to them that India might be their next career move - in fact one of them confessed that he had been "open to all locations - anywhere really, except India".
Well, their opinion has changed during the (e-mail) conversation! I think they are all quite excited by the possibility now and are looking forward to hearing more about the school, the job, and the country from me next week. They're a mixed group - four from the UK, one Aussie, one Kiwi, one American and one Canadian. Three men and five women.
They currently hold leadership positions in international schools in the Emirates, Vietnam, Oman, Iraq, Canada, Thailand, Australia and China. I've read their CVs thoroughly, and I've checked their references. Now all I have to do is meet them in person and try to evaluate how well they would fit into this environment and this particular job. Being a founding principal is a very different challenge from taking over an established primary school, and it requires a different skill set.
I'm hoping that two or three will stand out enough to warrant my bringing them to Mumbai for further interviews and ultimately an appointment. That's the process.
And of course this is just the beginning of recruitment for the year. I will need a number of new expat teachers, which will mean more recruitment fairs. My January is almost entirely taken up with expat recruiting. From December 30th to January 24th, my life will be made up of flights, hotels and interviews.
Recruiting local teachers takes place over a longer period. Interviews start around this time of year (my first is on Monday), and they usually continue through to June or sometimes beyond. We never seem to be really "finished" for the year, because teachers' situations change sometimes, and when we have a large faculty (276 teachers) we get a lot of changes. Pregnancies, changes to family situations, husbands being transferred......life is seldom "convenient".
Of course, we don't need to take this much trouble. We could get the required numbers of teachers in the right areas quite easily. Our reputation is good, and teachers (especially locals) are keen to have Oberoi International School on their CV. It's easy to find "teachers", but finding "the very best teachers I can get" is an entirely different matter.
If we lower our standards when recruiting, we have a much easier job requiring much less effort. But the quality of the school would suffer, because that is defined (more than anything else) by the quality of the teachers. And if the quality went down, so would our reputation, and consequently our ability to attract the best teachers. We cannot let that happen.