Out with the old job, in with the new job

by Stephen Tall on December 18, 2011

I’m typing this in my now-empty office in the University of Oxford’s Lubyanka-esque headquarters at Wellington Square. After 13 years, Friday was my last day working for Oxford.

My Oxford connection goes back still further: it was 17 years ago, December 1994, that I came to interview for a place to read History. Exactly half my lifetime ago. So I think it’s probably fair to say that it was time to move on, try something new.

That something new starts in January: Development Director for the Education Endowment Foundation.

I’m genuinely thrilled with the opportunity. The EEF is one of those rarest of creatures: a start-up with money behind it — £125 million of it to be precise — all of which has to be spent on new initiatives to raise the educational attainment of disadvantaged pupils at primary and secondary schools in England. My role is to work with philanthropists and other educational funders to ensure we can spend more than £200 million over the next 10-15 years.

I will be employee #6, I think — which will be something of a change from an office of 98 with three international offices.

But the bigger change will be my commute. I’m swapping a 35-minute daily cycle ride around Oxford for a 4.5 hour round-trip to Millbank Tower in London and back — which starts with the 6am bus from Oxford’s Thornhill park-and-ride.

I am, therefore, more than usually grateful for the leaving present my colleagues here in the University’s development office bought me: a digital coffee machine. I’ve a sneaky feeling caffeine is going to become an even more important part of my lifestyle for the next few years…