Our Leadership and Management Team
Robin Ghurbhurun: Principal and CEO of Richmond upon Thames College
Robin Ghurbhurun is an experienced learning and skills leader with 23 years in the Further and Higher Education sector. Robin continues to successfully manage multi-million pound complex skills and training solutions for education and the business community. Robin started his career in the further education sector in 1994 as a lecturer in computing at Weald College. Since then he has progressed his career in a number of colleges in London, South East England, East Anglia and the North East of England.
Robin specialises in Educational leadership and management, business performance and compliance, creation of industry inspired learning environments, business development, employer engagement, stakeholder partnerships (regional, national and international), curriculum innovation and design, bidding and project compliance, workforce development (CPD), e-learning and enterprise education.
Non-Executive roles currently held
Chair of Governors (St Matthew's Primary School, Surbiton)
Chair of the Association of Colleges Technology Special Interest Group Director and Trustee of Jisc (Joint Information Systems Committee)
Director of RUTC Trading Services Member Trustee of the Richmond upon Thames School (RTS)
Member of The Digital Skills Entitlement Task & Finish Group (GLA Mayor for London)
Committee Member of Association of Colleges London Regional Committee
Committee Member of the Richmond upon Thames Chamber of Commerce
John O’Shea: Deputy Principal, Curriculum and Student Services
John O’Shea has over 25 years’ experience in education and has worked across all facets of the sector, including Primary and Secondary (both Private and State), Sixth Form, Adult and FE. John has spent the majority of his career working within the Sixth Form and FE sectors and the last ten years working in senior management.
John’s two roles before RuTC were as Principal of two small Sixth Form institutions and John transformed Islington Sixth Form Consortium from ‘Satisfactory’ to ‘Outstanding’ and maintained it at ‘Outstanding’ for the next three years as well as doubling student numbers. He has also worked at Lambeth College, Richmond Adult Community College and Ealing Hammersmith and West London College where he set up the ‘Outstanding’ Sixth Form Centre in Southall for over 700 students.
John enjoys a challenge as demonstrated at the start of his career when after four years he chose to move from one of the top Private schools in the country (one of Prince Charles’ former schools) to a state secondary school which was at the time in the bottom five nationally.
John lives locally and has three children in primary school education.
John draws upon a wealth of experience within post 16 educations. He is a Curriculum and Quality specialist who enjoys driving up outcomes for students and institutions, as well as shaping and ensuring the curriculum meets the needs of the students. John designs quality systems to track monitor and ensure performance is at the appropriate level with swift effective interventions should performance not be at the correct level.
John’s subjects of specialism are Biology Sport Science and he has an MSc in Nutrition and Physiology.
Non-Executive roles currently held
Governor (Richmond upon Thames School)
Director of RUTC Trading Services
Alison de Lord FCIPD: Director of Human Resources & Organisational Development
Alison de Lord has been a Management Consultant and Human Resources professional for more than 30 years; she has experience in healthcare, the charity sector, local government and in higher and further education. Alison joined Richmond upon Thames College in June 2015 as the Director of Human Resources & Organisational Development and is a member of the College Leadership Team.
A large part of Alison’s brief is to lead on key strategic projects which aim to develop the culture of the organisation and support the College through managing change and ensuring an excellent level of customer service, quality services and good practice.
Alison has developed the strategic HR service including Recruitment, Policy Development, Continuous Professional Development, Performance Management, Advice & Guidance, Employee Relations, Pay, Pensions and Reward, HR & Payroll systems, Management Information and Health & Safety.
Non-executive roles held currently
Chair of Governors, Carlisle and Hampton Hill Federation
Director and secretary, local residents association
Sharon Cousins: Director of Quality and Student Services
Sharon has spent 25 years working in both the Further and Higher Education Sector where she has developed leadership and management skills. Her career started in Finance and after helping many students with financial concerns decided to retrain in welfare, mentoring and counselling which led to a move to Student Services. She has progressed her career in a number of colleges in the South of England and London.
Sharon specialises in leading on Safeguarding and child protection disclosures and the development of effective support services for students, promoting Learner voice opportunities and communication, developing strategies and resources to promote students personal development, behaviour and welfare and implementing quality impact measures to improve student experience and outcomes.
Non-executive roles currently held
Member of Association of Colleges Student Services Manager forum
Member of National Association of Managers of Student Services
Member of Kingston and Richmond Local Safeguarding Children Board
Hiten Savla FCA: Interim Director of Finance, Planning and Funding
Hiten Savla is a qualified Chartered Accountant with 25 years’ experience working with SME’s in the role of finance director and over the past 3 years working in the FE sector as Interim Director of Finance / Head of Finance.
Hiten started his articles at a small practice in Reigate, being their only employee to pass the exams first time. Being made redundant during the recession in the 90’s, he took the bold step to start his own consultancy supporting SME’s across London and the Home Counties with 6 staff, before being asked to take up a directorship at one of his clients.
Hiten specialises in systems development, planning and budgeting ensuring improved efficiencies are realised in the business. Mentoring staff to achieve their potential. Ability to analyse data quickly and formulating a plan. Managing stakeholder relationships.
Non-executive roles currently held
Link Governor on finance (Woodcote High School)
Secretary of Oshwal Association of UK (South London) – Registered Charity
Director of Simply MR Ltd
Proprietor of Savla Accounting Services
Janna Cooper: Curriculum Director STEAM, Humanities and Supported Learning
Janna Cooper is highly experienced in managing and developing curriculum across a broad range of specialisms. She graduated with a First degree from Loughborough University and an MA from Central Saint Martins in Textiles and worked as a designer maker alongside her professional career.
Janna started her career in the FE sector in 2004, progressing from a Production marketing role in Central London and developed her skills and professional practise at Richmond upon Thames College from Textiles & Fashion lecturer, to Curriculum Manager in Vocational Art and to her present role as Curriculum Director in 2013.
Janna specialises in curriculum and performance management, with a strong focus on developing programmes to meet learners’ interests and needs in line with education policy. She has a keen focus on continuous development both within her own practise and that of the curriculum areas she works with.
Grant Martindale: Director of Business, Lifestyle and Construction Industries
Grant Martindale is an experienced manager with an extensive record of managing curriculum across a broad range of delivery modes and curriculum areas. He graduated from a combined Sports Science and Geography degree at Brunel University and progressed into a career in Sports Management. Alongside progression into a teaching career he successfully completed an MSc in Sports Science at Brunel University. He later achieved a Post Graduate Diploma in Teaching and Learning at Roehampton University. Grant was the Curriculum Manager for Sport and Leisure for 3 years before progressing to his present role as Curriculum Director in 2013.
Grant has extensive experience of curriculum innovation and performance management and he is a driven individual who is passionate about the personal development of both learners and colleagues.
Garod Barker: Director of IT and Estates
Garod Barker is a proven technical and senior management leader with a career spanning 16+ years in the FE and HE sector.
Garod provides strategic leadership and takes overall responsibility for the business IT, systems and building services ensuring their operational efficiency.
Garod has a strong record of success in designing, creating and integration of robust IT architectures and infrastructures, network, support, and operational management, and is experienced in being the internal lead for multimillion pound building projects.
Garod followed the college route into employment attending Paddington and North London College as a student before coming back into FE as an adult student on a two year evening course studying for his MCSE accreditation.
Garod started his career in FE in 2000 as an IT support supervisor for City of Westminster College and has since progressed his career in a number of Colleges and Universities throughout London and Hertfordshire. He was an industry award winner for Public Sector Storage Project of the Year in 2013 and 2014
Garod specialises in Building and IT transformation business strategies, taking responsibility for the full life cycle including taking ownership for business process alignment, resource planning, governance and compliance. Experienced focal technical point and very commercially aware.
Non-executive roles currently held
Group member for UCISA
Member of BCS
Nicola Harding MCIPD: Head of Human Resources
Nicola Harding has had a varied career working within the banking sector, the NSPCC and various management roles at Marks and Spencer’s, starting at the College in February 2004. Nicola was fortunate to have progressed her career at the College, working in most HR roles. This has provided her with an excellent understanding of the College and enabled her to develop strong professional relationships with her colleagues and stakeholders.
Nicola has, and continues to, support the Director of HR & OD to develop the culture of the organisation and support the College through managing change and ensuring an excellent level of customer service, quality services and good practice. Nicola leads and develops the HR team to ensure that delivery of College objectives and strategy is supported at all times.
At the College Nicola manages the HR operation which includes Recruitment, Payroll, Management Information and Advice and guidance. She enjoys her role at the College and is looking forward to the future securing excellent student outcomes and transitioning to our new college building.
James McRae: Head of Learning Resources
James McRae has spent 13 years in the information and library profession, gaining experience in both the academic and specialist library sectors. James began his career as an Assistant Librarian at the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology (IMarEST), during which time he successfully applied for Chartership through the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP). Since this time, he has held roles as Head Librarian and Information & Knowledge Manager before joining RuTC in the summer of 2014.
James’ expertise lies in creating diverse and technology rich physical spaces, which inspire both collaboration and individual study in learners as well as harnessing digital tools to create accessible and engaging learning platforms online. James specialises in broadening access to authoritative information to support study and developing digital capabilities in learners as they move into the modern workplace.
Susan Pieterse: Head of Employer Engagement
Susan has had a varied career in both the private and public sector. She started her career in a FE college then moved into the private sector before returning as a lecturer to FE. After spending 10 years in FE, Susan moved to local government to get a better understanding of how local government and teaching institutions can work together to serve the community. During this time, Susan developed her management and employer engagement skills by working with local employers, training providers and local residents. Susan joined Richmond upon Thames College as Head of Training solutions to further develop and grow the already excellent apprenticeship programme the college offers.
Susan has extensive expertise within apprenticeships and management of teams. She has been involved with apprenticeships for the past 16 years with either managing or setting up apprenticeship programmes. She works well with organisations by assessing their training needs and recommending apprenticeship training to fit into their organisation.
Susan is passionate about apprenticeships and the benefits this can bring to both employers and apprentices. Susan supports both large and small employers with managing their levy and supporting with recruitment as well as upskilling of staff. The continuous change in apprenticeships makes this an exciting area to work in and develop new strategies to improve and grow apprenticeships.
Olga Stepanenko: Head of Learner Information Systems
Olga Stepanenko has an academic background having gained an MSc in Mathematics from St Petersburg State University in Russia. Olga has dedicated most of her career to working in education, including more than 17 years working in an information services environment in both FE and Sixth form colleges. Olga joined Richmond upon Thames College in July 2017 and is focusing on the development of innovative, agile and responsive student record solutions.
Olga has extensive technical knowledge of various information systems and is experienced in analysing large sets of complex data, and developing reporting solutions and data visualisations which support effective strategic and operational decisions.
Olga is very passionate about the quality and completeness of management information and is a strong believer that no statistical analysis can be trusted if based on incomplete data.
Deborah Stephenson: Student Services Manager
Deborah Stephenson has extensive experience of working with young people in both educational and welfare capacities, with 19 years spent in the Further and Higher Education sector. Deborah started her career at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children, going on to achieve qualifications in Sick Children’s Nursing, General Nursing and Midwifery. She made a career change into education in 1998 and progressed to become Programme Manager for Early Years at Farnborough College of Technology, managing both vocational FE and degree programmes. Following this appointment Ofsted graded the curriculum area as Outstanding in 2011. In 2016 Deborah became Student Services Manager and made to move to Richmond Upon Thames College in 2017.
Deborah specialises in the health and welfare of children and young people, gaining a Post Graduate Diploma in Maternal and Child Health in 2015. She delivered modules on Safeguarding and Integrated Working, Child Health and Early Intervention and Support at degree level and sat on the Department of Education external reference group for Early Years qualifications. She specialises in delivering high quality services to support students to achieve pastorally and academically and represented her previous college at QAA inspections internally and at the University of Surrey. Her focus is supporting the transition from college to employment or HE and improving the outcomes for students who may be undergoing challenges in their lives, through the delivery of services such as safeguarding, careers education and advice, counselling and financial support. This involves liaison with external agencies when required.
Clare Tear: Head of Marketing and Communications
Clare Tear is an experienced communications and marketing manager having worked in a number of different industry sectors in various marketing and communications roles over the past three decades. Clare has worked in the education sector since 1999 and joined the marketing department of Richmond upon Thames College in 2001. Clare is responsible for leading a team of professional marketers and helping develop and oversee the college’s key marketing activities. Her areas of responsibility currently include schools liaison, website and digital marketing, publicity, media and PR, production of marketing publications and executing an annual programme of events. Clare is also responsible for managing the college’s front of house reception area.
Clare is a general marketer, with expertise in online and offline marketing. She specialises in event management, copywriting and editing, digital and print advertising and publications, public relations and brand management.
Clare has a post-graduate marketing diploma and is a member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing.
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