Lynn Merilion, Principal at City of Bristol College tells us about the local skills gap, partnership as the key to progress and her love of theatre.
Hello Lynn, tell us about City of Bristol College and your role as Principal
I am the Principal and Chief Executive of City of Bristol College. The College is one of the largest further and Higher Education institutions in the country with approximately 30,000 students each year and around 1,500 members of staff. We have an annual turnover of around £55 million and play an important role in Bristol and the South West.
The College is the main provider of post-16 education in Bristol with around 7,000 16-18 year old students following College-based or Apprenticeship programmes. We also support a wide range of employers, helping to train and develop their workforce and bridge the gap between local jobs and local skills.
How has the current economic climate affected your activities?
Like all organisations, the College has been affected by the current economic climate. All colleges are grappling with government funding cuts and we are no different. Education is always in a state of change and we need to make sure that the College is flexible and adaptive enough to make the most of the opportunities that arise and to manage the potential threats.
What challenges are you facing over the next 12 months?
City of Bristol College is on a journey to outstanding. We have a number of challenges as part of that journey as we continue to put students at the heart of everything we do. We are investing £1.3million into our teaching and learning over the next year which will support all of the improvements we are making.
Do you think that the government is doing enough to support you and your sector?
Education is a key sector for any government. This means that we are always in the spotlight and need to deal with the myriad of initiatives that are a result of government policy.
What is your view on the South West business scene?
Bristol is a real economic hub for the South West and we try to make sure that the College is always meeting the needs of employers in the region. The major businesses that are based here and the region’s SMEs ensure that the business scene remains vibrant.
Do you have any Non-Executive Directorships? If so, what have you learned from the experience
I’m currently a Non-Executive Director for a number of organisations including the CBI South West, Education and Skills Mayoral Commission, The West of England LEP Skills Board, Trust in Learning, The Bristol Technology and Engineering Academy, Partners in Business and the South West Apprenticeship Company. I’m a big believer that learning never stops and each one of these has taught me that partnership is the key to progress.
Do you have any advice that you’d pass on to a newly appointed company director?
Stay curious and never stop asking questions.
What do you like to do outside of work?
No matter how busy I am, I make time to catch up with friends and family. I’m passionate about the theatre and recently spent time in Stratford upon Avon, watching three brilliant plays.
I play golf and swim and have been known to multitask when watching sport on television – watching tennis, cricket and football on different screens!
Who is your hero/personal inspiration?
Rather than having one particular hero, I am constantly inspired by people I meet. As Principal of the College I hear so many stories from students who have managed to turn their lives around, sometimes in the most difficult circumstances.
What is on your I-Pod and what are you reading right now?
I enjoy a very wide range of music. At the moment, I’m listening to a lot of jazz.
I’m currently reading The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt.
What has been your experience of working with our company?
I am delighted that Vanessa Moon is one of the College governors. Vanessa brings clarity of vision, people skills and a deep understanding of how effective staff improve business performance.