As a boy, Giles Mongare loved school, never missing a day. Though he enjoyed great relationships with his teachers, his passion for music, sports, and his friends all enhanced his love for school. At 18, he joined the Army as a musician before attending the Royal Military School of Music. Two years after attending the Royal Military School of Music, Giles served in the first Gulf War as a paramedic and musician before deployment to Northern Ireland. Surprisingly, it was his time in the military that led him to a career in education. Giles recounts:
"Part of the role of a military musician is to tour the country on recruitment campaigns. The role took me into schools where I got to work with and teach kids that were like me when I was at school! This was amazing, and it wasn't long before I realized that a career in the classroom was what I really wanted."
Giles earned his teaching qualifications at the University of Birmingham and accepted a music teaching post in Somerset, England before moving into the private sector. He worked for a record company and tutored extraordinarily talented musicians, who required education outside of a traditional school due to professional commitments. This job lead to a Giles accepting a position with the Local Educational Agency (LEA) music service and the opportunity to work with leaders and heads of school who instilled in him a passion for school improvement.
A desire to explore the world inspired Giles's decision to move overseas, when a position for head of the music department opened up at a school in Malaysia. He next landed a position in Thailand, where he quickly rose to Assistant Head and Deputy Head. Once Giles completed the National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH) in 2010, he accepted his first headship in Malaysia. A few years later, he took his current headship in Dubai. With the help of the Search Associates website and his Associate, Executive Vice President David Cope, Giles has recently landed his third headship, which will take him back to Malaysia. He offers some tips to those looking for a new position:
"Knowing when it's time to move on from your current role is important… If you're looking for a headship or senior leadership team role, start looking early—September! Don't start looking in March—it's too late… Search Associates gives you a person to work with. This is really important. Building a relationship and having someone who keeps in regular touch with progress or provides feedback when things don't go well is so important."
If one were to boil Giles's job search advice down to one imperative, it would be to have confidence: have confidence that you'll find a job, and have the confidence to be picky. Giles exclaims, "I try to look at it as a two-way street. Schools are on interview too!"
Giles believes it is good to admit where you don't want to work, but once interested in a school and a position, you should "dig around" to get a general idea about the school culture, including values and processes. Imagine living in the country for a number of years. Will your own kids do well there? Will your partner be able to work? Find answers to some key questions through the internet and during the interview. What will the school offer you professionally? How long has the current head been there? What is staff turnover like? What is the school's governance structure? What are exam results? Giles, who has been on both sides of the recruiting table, speaks from experience when instructing candidates:
"Do your homework!… Teaching overseas can be amazing, but it can become a nightmare if you're not prepared. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!! Don't be too quick to accept the first offer you get—you're better than that!! Remember, they need you as much as you need them… Don't be afraid to ask good, searching questions at interview."