"An Empowering Leader"
Julia Martin might have lost her brightest leaders at ISEB Limited had she not put in place strategies to let them balance work and home. As a result, the pioneering CEO has a team of incredible women whose talent ISEB gets the benefit of just by flexing how they work. “I see my role as being the most prominent champion for my female senior team, helping and supporting them to go further than they think they can and have confidence,” says Julia. “It’s incredible to watch other women grow in confidence and fly. It’s sad that our first thought, often, is that we can’t. And when they realize not only that they can, but that they’ve delivered something incredible, it’s wonderful to see.”
ISEB’s core values include ACCEPT, TRANSFORM, and INSPIRE (they are Julia’s values too). Working in education, Julia and her team keep the learning process alive, ensuring they are growing and developing all the time and investing in that. “Great things happen if you believe in people, support them, and give them the tools to make work a rewarding part of their life and not just an obligation. It’s about living your values and doing the right thing,” adds Julia, who takes her role as a privilege and responsibility. For her, it’s a huge honor to be trusted to not only run a company but develop it for the future. She doesn’t take that lightly, and it shows in their work. If she’s willing to roll up her sleeves and do anything (and she does), then she demonstrates that there are parts of the business they are all responsible for. “I read once that leaders eat last, and if we don’t assume the masculine trope that leadership is about hunting, or fighting to be at the front, then what we’re doing is showing our employees that we care about them; we’re putting them first,” she explains. “You make people feel safe and valued, just as you would members of your own family (and she spends more time with them sometimes than her own family!), and then you’re letting everyone shine.”
As a leader, Julia has learned that “It’s not about you!” One of her core beliefs is about empowering her team. “It’s not my job to be great at everything, although I do try. I love learning. I’m a fully paid-up geek squad member; relaxing for me is learning something new and finding knowledge!” She adds, “being comfortable with uncertain spaces helps. I always tell my team, ‘we’re doing something new. Something is going to go wrong.’ And I’m not saying that as a naysayer. I’m saying that because it always does, and I want them to be unafraid.” Julia’s team knows she will always support them under any circumstance and situation. “In my team, people don’t get blamed if things go wrong - everyone flies in to help and support. That’s important because it means the team gets things done, and even a stressful launch can seem fun because problem-solving is far more fun than worrying!”
Armed with relentless energy, Julia celebrates the benefits of her neurodiversity. She uses creative thinking and problem-solving to see the bigger picture and create smaller steps to realize those ambitions. The dynamic CEO can fit double a normal workload into five days and motivate staff to achieve things they didn’t think were possible. She can see ways to do something quickly by breaking things down, which means her productivity is incredibly high. It also helps to love what you do and set a strategy you believe in wholeheartedly! She can trust staff to deliver and sees leadership as guiding and mentoring rather than micromanaging.
Julia brings foresight and forward-thinking to everything she does. She doesn’t want to run a company the way all others are run but constantly strives to improve. “Ensuring we stay ahead and at the forefront of organizational design, putting supporting staff first and making sure you do the RIGHT thing, not the done thing. You have to have different practices to ensure that women of all ages and all stages of their life can have a thriving career, so we offer working patterns that support mothers,” she adds. WL
The ISEB provides examinations and assessments for pupils seeking entry to independent senior schools at 11+ and 13+. These include the Common Pre-Tests, Common Entrance and Common Academic Scholarship examinations.