Born and raised in Sri Lanka, Conrad Francis, a talented swimmer, was sent at age 15 for specialized training at Nunawading Swimming Club in Melbourne to qualify for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. Two years later, he began studying at Swinburne University of Technology, and though pressed to balance his studies while training, Conrad found that he enjoyed the academics. He says that education “opened many avenues” personally and professionally, providing a network of associates and friends. He recalls a turning point in his life:
When I qualified for my second Olympics in Athens 2004, I came across a good friend who encouraged me to pursue a career in international schools. By then, I had almost completed my higher studies in Sports Management as well as all requirements for my professional coaching licenses. My research showed that Aquatics Director and Head Coach positions were not commonly available, but bigger schools did have that position. That’s when I decided to join the international school circuit.
Over the past nine years, Conrad has enjoyed working at The British School in Colombo, International School of Beijing, and Jakarta Intercultural School. For his most recent international administrative job search, he took the advice of a dear friend—already in the international school circuit—and registered with Search Associates (SEARCH). The SEARCH database has proved to be invaluable for Conrad. He loves not only the ability to receive updates about vacancies and open leadership positions, but he also finds helpful details about a school of interest—its ethos, location, and its description of his prospective role.
With the support of Search Associates John and Susan Ritter, the SEARCH database, and a referral from a friend, Conrad has been appointed Performance Swimming Coach with Seoul Foreign School (SFS) in South Korea. He has been to Seoul on numerous occasions as a professional swimmer, most recently with his wife Nidhi in 2018. He explains why he believes he made the right choice:
SFS is great school with a rich history of education and sports. The community is very close knit.
As Athletic Director and Coach in international schools, Conrad appreciates working at the “finest facilities,” where he has benefited from the teaching methodologies and high standards of each school. In addition to meeting new students and teachers from diverse cultures and listening to their life stories, he feels fortunate to have worked with some “amazing” leaders with whom he has developed great bonds and family friendships. To be part of the greater international community where he can continue to learn from others in leadership positions is a privilege, he says.
Nidhi also enjoys being part of each school community, having taken on part-time positions in Admissions and Communications Departments, substitute teaching, and helping parent-run organizations. She and Conrad love exploring the country, enjoying the various types of foods, and making new friends.
Conrad aims to bring the best out of students’ performances: fine-tuning their skills while making sure they believe in themselves so that they are confident to perform at the highest level. At the same time, he trains them to accept defeat gracefully. He says he has worn many hats as a coach—father, mother, and mentor—to students and their parents. Conrad reflects,
Being able to share my knowledge and experiences is what gives me great happiness. . . And there is nothing more rewarding than watching a young student becoming a global citizen of today’s world. Working with students has given me so much joy.