Anne Martin is the CEO of QEGSMAT, a growing group of academies based in Derbyshire, Derby City and Staffordshire, and she has long since blazed a trail for women in leadership roles within the education sector.

Having progressed through middle and senior leadership roles, Anne stepped into her first headship role in 2010, and her second in 2012, at Queen Elizabeth Grammar School (QEGS) where she has remained since.

Anne was then appointed Executive Headteacher/ CEO of QEGSMAT in 2016, and now sits on the East Midlands and Humber Headteacher Board. She is also a National Coach for Women into Leadership and has been awarded a Fellowship from the Chartered College of Teaching, in celebration of her contribution to the teaching profession. She is also part of the School Improvement Team at Derbyshire Local Authority, working with identified schools to facilitate school improvements as a Link Adviser.

Anne’s career has spanned three decades, during which time she has had a real tangible impact on those around her, but also shaken the foundations of a sector – and a role – which has been typically male dominated for centuries.

From disrupting gender stereotypes to championing the best education for all, Anne has become an authoritative and trusted voice within the education sector.

But her journey has not been without its difficulties.

As the first female Headteacher to be appointed at QEGS in its 400-plus year history, her role was met with some disapproval, including a petition in the local area. Anne oversaw the rewriting of age-old documents and constitutions, to facilitate her attending and being part of the community which she served. Alongside this, Anne was contending with a school that was judged to require improvement from Ofsted, marking the beginning of a journey of improvement, striking the balance between tradition and innovation.

Achieving success by celebrating the small wins, communicating effectively and not losing touch with yourself or those around you.

After three decades in the sector, we asked Anne “What do you attribute to your success?” to which she responded “Prioritise positive relationships, embrace opportunities, and never compromise your values and virtues. Celebrate the successes, reflect when things go wrong, or when mistakes are made and dig even deeper to bounce back.”

She adds “Always make time for yourself – and for others – and make the effort to separate work and home; work to live. When you face challenges, give yourself a positive self-talk (in a mirror if possible). Prepare, plan, and rehearse – think about your body language and even plan out the space to ensure the outcome of the situation is as positive as possible.”

“Listen to others and make the effort to read and keep up to date in your sector. Find an activity that you enjoy and that helps you get perspective and clear your thoughts – I personally enjoy yoga and walking – make it part of your life. Never lose the ability to laugh and enjoy life.”

Leading effectively and conscientiously

Regarding her role as a CEO, Anne adds “When it comes to effective strategies for success, communication is key. You must communicate your vision and plans clearly; ensure your strategies are fit for purpose and are well timed for the organisation – do not race ahead and turn around to see others too far behind you – take them with you.”

“My most precious resource are my staff and investing in them, listening, giving them time, and understanding them is crucial. Give your staff time to attend their children’s plays at Christmas, share funny stories with one another – laughter is a great tonic! Signpost your team and encourage their career development. Recognise that they are doing a great job.”

“We are all leaders, regardless of our position and celebrating successes is important. Too often we achieve something or meet and exceed the targets set and simply ask ‘what next?’. Take time to enjoy the success. Celebrate others, always look after yourself, your health and make time for family time. Listen and never underestimate the power of self-talk.”

“Delegate and empower others; encourage, coach and reward – recognition is very powerful. Get your team right and make sure everyone is in the right seat, moving in the same direction. Surround yourself with others who can challenge you, and who have the expertise and tools that you yourself do not necessarily have.”

James Delve, Partner at Smith Cooper comments “Anne is no doubt one of the most impressive CEO ’s I have the pleasure of working with across any sector. Anne puts young people at the heart of everything she does and utilises the power of education to change children’s lives for the better.”

“Anne is also incredibly commercially astute and has had a significant impact on the schools within the QEGSMAT remit. She is a fantastic role model and perfectly embodies the values of International Women’s Day and all that it represents.”