Meet the MD: John Chance of Redcar & Cleveland College

Meet the MD: John Chance of Redcar & Cleveland College

As acting principal of Redcar and Cleveland College John Chance does something new every day. He had a chat with BQ about what its like to head up a busy college.

What is it you do?

I’m the acting principal of Redcar & Cleveland College and, as you’d imagine, my day job is incredibly varied.

I’m responsible for overseeing everything from quality of training provision to the finances of the business.

I’ve been working in further education for the last twenty years and I’ve been fortunate enough to meet some amazing people.


What is it the company does?

Essentially the college provides training courses that equip people with the skills to progress to higher education, secure employment or start their own business.

We offer all sorts of options including apprenticeships, NVQs, Higher National Diplomas (HNDs) and Higher National Certificates (HNCs).

The real skill, though, is to ensure that we’re delivering the skills required by local employers. That’s why we take time to speak with companies so that together we can identify any skills gaps. 


What do you believe makes a great leader?

Great leaders will make their team function at maximum capacity. They’ll empower their staff and get them to work out solutions to problems for themselves. Dictatorship rarely works. Look at the failure of Jose Mourinho at Chelsea this season; his players stopped playing for him.   


What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?

To try to improve quality of training provision amid great uncertainty in the FE sector and wider economy – not an easy task!

The FE sector is going through a lot of change and training providers will have to be nimble enough to adapt. Also, there’s a lot of uncertainty in the wider economy.

Will Britain leave the EU? Will the slowdown in China affect growth in the UK? How will Government policy impact on skills funding? We need to have a robust enough business model that can adapt to whatever situation arises from these issues.


How do you alleviate stress that comes with your job?

I go running three times a week. I haven’t tackled any marathons yet but I have signed up for the Stockton Duathalon this year.

Running is a good stress-buster and one way of getting away from the daily grind of e-mails and meetings.

Everybody needs a release valve; mine is sport as I like to keep fit and active.  


When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be in the Royal Marines. My dad was in the navy and my grandad was in the army so I guess I wanted to follow in their footsteps. I always thought I’d end up in a military occupation but I was proved very wrong about that.


Any pet hates in the workplace?

I can’t abide rudeness; there’s no need for it. You can disagree with somebody else’s point of view – in fact, I’d encourage healthy debate – but you can still be polite in getting your point across. 


Where do you see the company in five years’ time?

I’d like to think we’re still delivering high quality education that meets the needs of employers, the economy and the local community.

We also need to work closely with other partners – including training providers, the local enterprise partnership, business groups and policymakers – to ensure that we’re continuing to meet these needs.

It’s an evolving process.


What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?

Don’t underestimate the difficulties of people management. If you’re going to any business you have to be able to manage people well and get the best out of them.

You also have to look after the finances and have a good understanding of the market you’re in – but effective people management is the key to success.


Where did you start your career?

I started my career as a sports teacher at the former Longlands College in Middlesbrough. I enjoy sport so it was good to combine work with a hobby.


Give us a brief timeline of your career so far?

I completed a master’s degree in adapted physical activity, which enabled me to explore how different sports cater for people with special needs, before starting my teaching career at Longlands in 1996.

I got my PGCE teaching qualification and then a master’s in education from Teesside University while pursuing my career, which eventually took me to Middlesbrough College in 2002.

After spending nine years as director of sport at the college, I became an external verifier for awarding body VTCT while carrying out sports lecturing duties at Middlesbrough College.

I joined Redcar & Cleveland College as business development manager in 2013 before progressing to vice-principal and then my current role in January 2015.