View from the Bridge: Team Insight – Sarah Magnell

Sarah Magnell is a Partner of Cordiner King, one of the leading Australian executive search agencies in the Panorama global network, of which Saxton Bampfylde is also part. Sarah previously worked at Saxton Bampfylde in London for ten years.

Past, present and future with Panorama

I recently moved back to Sydney and joined Cordiner King after several years in London with Saxton Bampfylde. I currently head Cordiner King’s Sydney Office.


Rainy day dreams

It fortunately doesn’t rain a lot in Sydney. However, when it does, I enjoy visiting the NSW Art Gallery and particularly the special exhibitions. I recently saw an exhibition on Rembrandt and the Dutch Masters that was impressive.


True passion

Dance. I’ve been dancing since I was five years old and I have taken classes and performed almost all forms this brilliant artform. I have recently returned to dance classes at Sydney Dance Company. The experience has been wonderful – just like coming home to an old friend.


Hot tip

Since returning to my hometown of Sydney I have rediscovered a city full of excellent restaurants and intimate small bars. My hot tip in the Sydney CBD is Prime Steak Restaurant & Grill Room in the basement of the GPO Building. The best steak in Sydney – its mouth-wateringly good!


Sector view in three words

More with less.


In Australia are you seeing more movement of leaders into Higher Education from other sectors than in the past? Why do you believe this is?

We have started to see a movement of ‘non-traditional’ leaders into Vice-Chancellor and other senior management positions at Australian universities. We are finding that a number of universities are seeking this mix of bringing together an understanding of, and credibility in, higher education with strong commercial nous. Universities in Australia, and indeed globally, are under constant threat of funding cuts, increased competition locally and internationally, fundamental change in the way students learn through digital technologies and there is constant pressure to produce high quality research and improve student satisfaction ratings.

University leaders therefore will need to have the skills and experience to find ways to stay true to the mission, maintain academic integrity and independence, while at the same time changing and adapting their business and operating models to ensure sustainability.


How important is the international agenda for Australian HE institutions?

The international agenda is vitally important to Australian universities. Universities are increasing their levels of global partnerships with international institutions, finding ways to strengthen their international profile and reputation in an increasingly competitive and crowded market. They are in particular strengthening their ability to attract international students – who are a vital source of revenue in the era of federal government funding cuts.

Australia’s reputation for high-quality university education and our proximity to Asia helped to propel education export earnings to a record $21.8billion in 2016. According to higher education peak body Universities Australia, the education of international students is Australia’s third largest export, behind only iron ore and coal. Consequently, universities across Australia have a strong incentive to attract the best and brightest of the international students.

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