As Founding Principal, Mike Embley, together with his wife, Sally, as Admissions Director, launched, set-up and opened (on-time) one of the most successful new schools (based on reputation and student numbers) in Dubai.
Under Embley's leadership Nord Anglia School Dubai has become known as an academically successful school focusing on manners, respect, personal responsibility and many of the values associated with English private schools. NAS Dubai also ensures that parents buy into the vision , interviewing parents as well as prospective student to ensure they understand the school's ethos.
Embley’s success in establishing NAS Dubai must have at least partly fuelled his promotion to a Regional Directorship position with the target of further expansion of the NAS brand in the GCC.
How long have you worked in the UAE?
This is my fourth year.
What made you choose the education sector?
For me at least it's about doing something that is useful, meaningful, and that I enjoy. I suspect I'm a fairly simple creature!
What do you think are the greatest challenges facing the industry in the UAE?
We have gone from a supply led environment in which, if I'm frank, schools were rather arrogant and smug, to a demand led environment.
Personally I think this is a good thing, for quality of education in the UAE and the region and for parents.
School groups and investors now have to be much smarter and work harder or they will simply fail, and we have seen multiple examples of that.
I don't, to be honest, have much sympathy with them. Either a few of the old guard who took parents and students for granted or some of the new ones who think it's a license to print money.
What are the key milestones in your career so far?
Oh gosh. I'm not so arrogant as to think that I have achieved anything worth calling a milestone. And anything I have been involved with has always been much more to do with the team than with me.
What do you think is your greatest achievement, in education, to date, and why?
Passing my A Levels.
Name three things which get you up and motivate you each day?
My family. The students. The schools.
What would you still like to achieve in your professional life?
I'd like to lead an educational group. And I'd like to teach more science and maths to students.
What is your advice for others hoping to emulate your success?
It's not about me. With education you are, if you are doing it right, dealing with passionate people. You are also dealing with families who love their children. So you are there to let the good people be good at their job and to let them help, challenge and develop those children.
The key thing is to be authentic and that you can't emulate. Either you really are interested and passionate or you're not.
I am not ashamed to say that I work in the education business. I do, and it would be disingenuous to suggest otherwise.
But I "do" the business part as a task, as a tool, so that the team of people I work with can "live" the educations side.
Reading that back even I think it reads like a plate full of cheddar but I can't phrase it any more eloquently!
What is the most enjoyable aspect of working in education?
The nice letters from ex-pupils that you get ten years later.
I get less and less of these as I grow older and now that I am sadly more of a schools group leader than and teacher. But I enjoy reading the ones that the teachers In the schools bring to show me.
It's great to see that real long term and long lasting difference that we can make to people.
School is a huge part of a young person's life and the difference we make is real.