7 Questions with Daniel Pampuch

Name: Dr Daniel Pampuch

Current title: CEO

Current organisation: Christian Schools Australia

Dr Daniel Pampuch was appointed Chief Executive Officer of Christian Schools Australia in January 2017. As CEO, he oversees 160 Christian schools and provides advocacy for an additional 40 schools across Australia - representing some 65,000 students. He was previously the Executive Officer of the Uniting Church Schools Commission, overseeing 18 institutions in Queensland. Daniel has 25 years of experience in Christian Education and most recently served as the Executive Principal of the Crest group of Christian schools and Early Learning Centres in Melbourne, Victoria.

Daniel has a PhD in Next Generation Leadership as well as Masters in Business Administration and a Masters of Educational Leadership. Daniel most recently completed a Masters in Theological Studies in support of his work in the Christian Education sector. Daniel has fellowships with the Governance Institute of Australia, the Institute of Managers and Leaders and the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators. He is a member of the Australian College of Education Leaders and Graduate Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Daniel serves on a range of national and international boards and committees. Daniel also serves as an elder in his local church as well as Chairs Newlife College which prepares and equips people for service, ministry and leadership within the broader church. In 2014, Daniel was awarded the Mayoral Certificate for Contribution to Education in the City of Casey; the Federal Government Award for Outstanding Service in Education, as well the CSA award for Outstanding Service to Christian Education in Australia.

Daniel is married and his two sons attend a Christian school on the Gold Coast.

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1. What have you found most challenging as a Christian school leader?

The biggest difficulty is that we are seeing a generational change occur. The pioneers and founders of our organisations are retiring and a new generation is stepping up to take their place. However, this new generation has not been formed in the same way as the previous. They are emerging in a very different, discontinuous time. We are needing to be explicit and intentional in the way we raise up this new generation. We are seeking to have them well-ground in the values and the vision of the past but agile and flexible to deal with the realities of the current context.

2. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

I am an extremely structured individual. My diary is often booked months in advance. This means each hour is often already accounted for before the week begins. I have to be very disciplined in ensuring that I spend time with my wife and family. Otherwise work could take over completely. Mornings are often set aside for writing - whether that be reports, updates for members etc. I find I am the most clear headed then. Meetings are often programmed for later in the day.

3. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?

I am not sure that there is a recent lesson, perhaps it is more of an old one that I have used afresh. It is from Jim Collins - getting the right people on the bus and then getting those people into the right seat on the bus. If you want to build an effective team you have to be very selective about who is on the bus.

4. What one book has had the most profound impact on your Christian school leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?

Multipliers: How the best leaders make everyone smarter by Liz Wiseman has been a very good addition to my library. We all think that we are helping and enabling our team to perform, but sometimes (even accidentally) we are diminishers. Our efforts to helping a team grow could actually be preventing growth.

Wiseman gives some great clues as to how to spot this in yourself and the proven tools to help grow your team effectively through: being a talent magnet; liberating your team; challenging; encouraging debate; and investing in people.

5. How do you find and keep great Christian teachers?

It is definitely not by putting an ad in the paper. Finding great teachers occurs through getting out and seeing practitioners in action. It is about rubbing shoulders and being part of networks.

Keeping good staff is about ensuring you are engaged with them for the journey. There can never be an employ and forget mentality. Good teachers want to be invested into and given opportunities to grow and shine.

6. What's most important as a Christian school leader for developing a culture of wellbeing in your staff and students?

Wellbeing is based on relationship and connection. A well staff is one that know each other and is connected. Relationship helps to deal with change, difficulties etc. Staff will be able to cope if they are in the situation together supporting and upholding each other. If the leader is connected well, they will know the pressure points and the ways in which stress and tension can be minimized. For students, it is about being known and valued. Students get their sense of wellbeing from feeling that they are seen and that they play a part in the community. They need to feel they have a place in the community and that this is valued.

7. If you had to pick just one story, what would be the most meaningful story from your time as a Christian school leader so far?

A few years ago we had a school nearby that went bankrupt. Parents found out on the Friday that the school would not open again on the Monday. There were 340 students who would have no school in the following week. Parents were panicked and our phone lines ran hot with inquiries about places. Other schools could only offer 1 or 2 places - so it appeared that hundreds would be without a school. We decided to hold a meeting for interested parents and had 100 families turn up. Over the next week my team and I interviewed from 8 am in the morning till 10 pm each night. We developed a plan to use all school facilities to capacity, bring in demonstrable classrooms and to expand offerings. In the end we were able to offer 225 places to these families. We met a need and were able to be the hands and feet of God. I look back and to this day feel that we truly modeled what a Christian school/community was all about.