After training as a chemical engineer and having a successful career, Katrina Morley decided to retrain and get into the education sector. She is now CEO of Tees Valley Education.
Where do you call home?
Middlesbrough and Keramoti (Greece).
Tell us about your role?
I am currently CEO of Tees Valley Education, which is a multi-academy trust based in Middlesbrough and Redcar and Cleveland. It comprises five academies for primary aged pupils (three to 11 year-olds) and offers a range of mainstream and specialist places for children across the local authorities.
How did you get to where you are today?
I followed an academic path going to college and university, where I graduated as a chemical engineer. I worked at two blue chip companies, ICI and BASF, who honestly set my compass and pathway for life regarding excellence and leadership.
While being employed in both, I always retained links with education and worked with children and young people from 7-18, including being a mentor, business liaison link, leading groups on CREST awards and undertaking a range of voluntary roles. It was then I decided to retrain and become a teacher.
This involved me going back to university, undertaking a PGCE and then over the years, while eventually working full-time, studying for a post graduate diploma and a master’s degree in education.
I have been a teacher for 23 years and a senior leader for 18 years, which now includes being an executive head teacher and CEO. I also work with a range of national educational professionals and even more young people, in addition to those we serve in the trust.
What struggles or obstacles did you face along the way?
Personally: imposter syndrome, time and balance between professional and personal life, age discrimination and whether I was “too young” to be able to lead.
Professionally: understating the “politics” at times, impatience, failure and how to turn it into an almighty learning experience.
Describe the moment you first got a feel for success?
Whenever my children achieved what they’d set out to do or had that involuntary lightbulb moment themselves – the privilege of being part of their life journey and seeing / experiencing their joy.
Personally, I also love it when I learn something new or something which has been vexing me suddenly makes sense – eureka moments.
Do you have any advice for aspiring young females?
Ask every question – be curious.
Find amazing role models you aspire to and ask if they will mentor you, I’ve learnt so much this way.
Believe – you can find a way, even if it’s a different path than the one you first thought.
Pay it forward, every step you take will be a beacon to somebody so always pay the learning, kindness and/ or opportunity forward.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
You can do it, and even more.
What three words inspire you and encourage a positive path?
Care, commitment, courage.
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