An interview with CEO Greg Parry about navigating success in establishing international schools. How do leaders navigate success? Standby for a comprehensive insight

Establishing a new international school is a thrilling endeavour, filled with the promise of shaping young minds and contributing to a brighter future. It also promises investors a long-term, sustainable investment that rewards patience and strategic thinking. In exploring key success factors, we draw upon invaluable insights from Global Services in Education CEO Greg Parry to guide aspiring educational entrepreneurs and strategies for navigating success.

Navigating Success is timing

The Dominance of Timing

In educational entrepreneurship, a pivotal yet often underestimated factor that separates successful international start-ups from their less successful counterparts is the strategic management of timing. Timing accounts for a significant portion of the difference between success and failure, playing a central role in establishing international schools.

“Understanding the dynamics of timing goes beyond mere chronology. It entails a comprehensive grasp of the evolving educational landscape, cultural nuances, and community needs. This awareness is crucial for discerning educators and global investors alike, as it allows them to navigate the intricate complexities inherent in launching and sustaining international educational institutions.

Launching an international school at the opportune moment is not a matter of chance; it’s a strategic move that aligns the institution with the educational requirements of the community. This strategic alignment enhances the institution’s adaptability and paves the way for a more effective journey towards success. In the dynamic realm of educational enterprises, recognizing and leveraging the significance of strategic timing is paramount for those dedicated to establishing and nurturing flourishing international schools.”

Greg Parry – CEO GSE

New York Times best-selling author Daniel Pink says it can play a big part in how successful your strategy will be.

“I think people underestimate timing,” he tells Dear HBR hosts Alison Beard and Dan McGinn. “We’re very intentional in our lives about what we do. But when it comes to when we do things, we don’t take it seriously enough. We’re not intentional. And it has a material effect at very many levels of peoples’ work lives.” (Source)

Execution and Adaptability: Pillars of Success

While timing takes the lead, the importance of execution and adaptability cannot be overstated. An exceptional team that can adapt to the challenges is crucial. In the world of international schools, this underscores the significance of leadership. Greg Parry, the CEO, and Co-Founder of Global Services in Education, exemplifies this. His vast experience and adaptive leadership have played a pivotal role in the success of numerous educational ventures. The ability to execute plans and adjust strategies based on real-time feedback from students, parents, and the community is the hallmark of a successful educational institution.

“In the field of launching international schools, success is contingent upon the adept execution of plans and the ability to swiftly adapt to evolving conditions. It’s about effective implementation and maintaining flexibility – these are the cornerstone principles for establishing resilient educational institutions capable of navigating challenges with practicality and resilience. While core values remain steadfast, the strategies for implementation must remain fluid and dynamic to effectively meet the demands of the ever-changing landscape. We have experienced this in China, as well as areas of the Middle East including Saudi Arabia. Vietnam has changed rapidly, as did Thailand during and then after the Covid period.”

Greg Parry – CEO GSE

The Nexus of Idea and Business Model

Although surprising, the idea’s uniqueness and the business model’s clarity still hold substantial weight in the strategies of navigating success. A compelling vision and a well-defined approach to generating enrolments, satisfied parents and revenues can set the course for a successful international school. In the context of education, this demands innovation and a forward-thinking approach. Greg Parry’s expertise in implementing progressive educational models has been instrumental in the success of schools under his leadership. His emphasis on aligning educational ideas with sustainable business models reflects a keen understanding of the evolving needs of students and the community.

“For international schools, success is built upon the symbiotic relationship between pioneering educational concepts that reflect best or emerging best practice and developing resilient business models. A compelling vision, paired with a well-defined revenue-generating strategy, forms the cornerstone of a thriving educational institution. Our extensive experience in implementing progressive educational models emphasises the criticality of aligning visionary ideas with sustainable business practices, ensuring that schools effectively cater to the dynamic needs of both students and the community. It’s imperative to recognise that without a compelling mission, sustainable revenue cannot be achieved, and without sustainable revenue, the educational mission cannot be successfully fulfilled.”

Greg Parry – CEO GSE
Navigating Success is funding

Funding as a Catalyst for Growth and Navigating Success

Funding at launch plays a critical role in international schools, but it’s not the ultimate determinant of success. As seen in his leadership at Global Services in Education, Greg Parry’s approach emphasises the efficient use of resources in a timely manner to achieve educational excellence. In today’s landscape, access to funding at the right time ensures schools’ momentum matches needs.

“Funding is unquestionably vital for international schools, but genuine success extends beyond mere financial backing. At Global Services in Education, we emphasise resource efficiency and timing of resources to attain educational excellence. In today’s landscape, accessibility to funding has expanded for promising ventures, empowering schools to sustainably evolve and enrich their offerings. Investors are looking for compelling stories that reflect strategic thinking. They understand that schools take 3- 5 years to achieve positive cash flow and they support a solid vision that stretches out to 7-10 years when they know momentum will be achieved on the financial side. We create financial models that inform what is needed in a ramp up process. From the initial start up capital from commencement to the need for injection of resources at each stage of the schools growth.We plan it out to avoid surprises.”

Greg Parry – CEO GSE
Navigating Success includes reflection

Reflecting on Success Stories in Education

Drawing parallels with renowned successes, the emphasis remains on the role of perfect timing in their triumphs. Success stories within the education sector often share commonalities with global triumphs like Airbnb and Uber. Schools, under the guidance of leaders like Greg Parry, flourish when they address genuine needs within the educational landscape. Greg Parry’s role in the success of schools is a testament to the effectiveness of being in sync with the times.

“In the intricate and complex tapestry of what is required for educational achievement, synchronisation with the present era is the thread that intertwines triumphs. Inspired by global successes that were both contrarian and “out of the box” such as Airbnb and Uber, our school model and approach is driven by meeting authentic needs within the dynamic and changing international educational landscape. In other industries new directions occurred in response to emerging market needs that some people did not expect. It’s about grasping the momentum of a current redirection, and our accomplishments affirm the effectiveness of aligning with the contemporary educational requirements rather than straight lines and fixed plans.”

Greg Parry – CEO GSE
Navigating Success challenges

Navigating the Challenges: Lessons from Setbacks

Conversely, cautionary tales within the educational realm highlight the importance of understanding timing. Greg Parry’s experiences addressing challenges head-on have been evident in overcoming setbacks. As educational leaders navigate the complexities, the lesson here is clear – a fantastic idea needs the support of favourable timing. It underscores the need for a comprehensive understanding of the educational environment and a strategic approach to overcome hurdles.

“The journey and pathway will never be a straight line. There will be bumps in the road as you face unexpected obstacles. Having a perfect strategy that is fixed and a leadership team that doesn’t understand it or have the ability to pivot and change direction. is worse than having a bad plan from the beginning. Timing must be right but also a deep understanding of educational environments allow strategic approaches and changes to overcome hurdles.

Greg Parry – CEO GSE

The advocacy for a realistic and honest assessment of the timing factor echoes profoundly in educational leadership. For international school start-ups, this translates to a deep understanding of the local and global educational landscape. It involves gauging the community’s readiness for innovative educational approaches and being receptive to honest feedback. As educators and investors embark on the noble mission of establishing international schools, the wisdom shared through experiences in educational leadership serves as a guiding light.

If you want to learn more about the steps required to set up a school check out some of our other articles:

Steps to Setting Up a New School

10 Steps and Articles on How to Set Up a New School

GSE International School Franchise Models

GSE provides specialist services to set up all forms of education institutions, including international schools, kindergartens, vocational colleges, universities and online/virtual schools.

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CEO and Education Expert Greg Parry

Greg Parry

Internationally renowned for his expertise in education leadership, Greg Parry’s vast experience includes leadership of projects for education institutions throughout Australia, the Middle East, the United States, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and China. Recognised for his numerous contributions in the education arena, Greg has received the Ministers Award for Excellence in School Leadership based on improvements in school performance and a range of successful principal training and leadership development programs, as well as the School of Excellence Award for Industry/School Partnerships and the School of Excellence Award for Technology Innovation. His company GSE (Global Services in Education) has been recognised as having the Best Global Brand in International Education in 2015 and 2016.

Considered one of the premier experts in his profession, Greg has trained teachers and principals throughout the world in areas such as critical thinking, language development and leadership. His expertise in school start-up projects, leadership and curriculum development has made him a sought-after authority in this discipline.

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