Director of the Year Awards 2018 – Simon Pirotte, CEO and principal, Bridgend College

Simon Pirotte - Director of the Year Awards

Every day over the Christmas period, we’ll speak to winners from the recent IoD Director of the Year Awards. Today it’s Simon Pirotte, CEO and principal of Bridgend College, who won the Public/Third Sector award

‘Even when you think you are listening, listen more’

When Pirotte became its CEO in 2014, Bridgend College was facing ruin, with desperately poor cash flow and cuts to its funding on the horizon. Under his leadership it has since experienced an extraordinary turnaround. It’s now even embarking on an ambitious estates strategy, including two £30 million campus development projects, that promises to be a catalyst for local regeneration.

How do you describe your leadership style? “Fun. If you don’t enjoy what you do, there’s no point – and you’ll make everyone around you miserable.”

What has been your biggest challenge? “Austerity – there isn’t enough money in further education.”

Where do you get your best ideas?  “The arts. As a drama teacher, I’ve seen some poor pieces of theatre with big budgets. Some of the best pieces have been low budget but brilliant because of their reliance on the creativity of all involved.”

What’s the best advice you’ve heard? “We cannot always do great things, but we can do small things with great love. Mother Teresa said that. She may not spring to mind when we think about business, but I think this is apt.”

What’s the secret to building a great team? “Celebrating diversity and differences ….. but being on the same page in terms of values.”

The biggest lesson you’ve learnt so far? “Even when you think you are listening, listen more.”

What’s the best business talk you have seen? “I’m a big fan of Simon Sinek and the importance of focusing on ‘why’ we do what we do, I think that is really important to achieve great performance.”

What guidance would you offer less experienced leaders about how to navigate turbulent times? “Be sure of what is important. Let your values and those of your team influence culture. Challenge behaviour that’s inconsistent with these values. Involve your staff and let the culture do the job for you.”

Entries are now open for the 2019 IoD Director of the Year Awards – click here for more info and to nominate

Click here for more winners’ interviews

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Director magazine

Director magazine

Director is the magazine for business leaders. Free to IoD members and available to purchase through subscription, each edition is full of insightful interviews with entrepreneurs and company directors.

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