As one of the country’s leading state-funded grammar schools, founded in 1573, Queen Elizabeth’s is known for its ancient heritage, paired with free-thinking scholarship, and an utmost desire to engender a spirit of intellectual curiosity in all its pupils. In 2020, Queen Elizabeth’s was looking for a new Deputy Head, Operations who would share in this outlook and bring a desire to uphold the School’s excellent academic outcomes and extra-curricular breadth, alongside social mobility, diversity of all kinds and broader inclusion. As the most senior non-academic post in the School and given the breadth of the Deputy Head, Operation’s role it was important that candidates displayed strong operational experience and commerciality in addition to financial expertise.
Given the school’s location, our search focused primarily on North London and the nearby counties. As well as undertaking fresh market mapping, we also utilised our extensive contacts across the education, commercial and non-profit sectors. We contacted around 125 people during the search; 11 candidates with a broad range of background were taken forward and narrowed down to a shortlist of 4 for further interviews. All of the shortlisted candidates were deemed appointable, and ultimately the School chose to appoint Tara O’Reilly, formerly Head of Business Operations at the BBC. She brought over 20 years’ experience at the BBC and in commercial environments, delivering operations, driving transformation and building diverse and high performing teams.