New Chair Deborah McCormack shares her vision

Feb 13, 2020 | Sector & policy

Deborah McCormack, Head of Early Talent at Pinsent Masons LLP, sets out her vision and expectation as the ISE’s new Chair.

When I was asked to write a blog that set out my ‘vision’ as the new ISE Chair, if I am absolutely honest, the pop/rock genius of Queen’s lyrics was the first thing that sprang to mind: ‘One man, one goal, one mission. One heart, one soul….one vision’. You probably expect something slightly loftier from your new Chair, so I will dig deep!

Being ‘visionary’ and articulating organisational vision, sounds very grand (particularly to a Glaswegian). Perhaps some of the more cynical among us might perceive vision as nothing more than management speak. I would disagree.

The most successful global leaders tell us that if we get our vision right, we all know where we are heading, maximising our chances of pulling in the same direction to get there faster. The organisations and institutions our members work in and contribute to will all have an overarching vision of what they aim to achieve.

Clarifying and then effectively communicating organisational vision is a powerful, future-focused tool to achieve strategic and operational goals. Ultimately, it’s the vision we work towards which drives our long-term success.


So, what is the ISE’s vision?

As the UK’s leading independent voice for student employers, our vision is to maximise the success of our members’ businesses by full access to student talent.

For me, the key aspect of the ISE vision is having our members right at its core.

First and foremost, we are a membership organisation aiming to build a thriving community of and for our membership. We would not exist, and our vision and strategy would not matter, if it were not for our membership and your active involvement in all that we offer.

As Chair, I am delighted to have the opportunity to work with our Chief Executive, Board, ISE team and most importantly, our members, to influence, shape and deliver on the strategy that moves us closer to realising our vision.

Taking on the role of Chair is a real privilege and I am keen to do justice to the position over the coming term.

Alison Heron has done a stellar job, leaving our Board and constitution in great shape with representation from across our membership of employers, higher education and suppliers. 

While the role gives me a voice at the Board table, this is almost incidental. Ultimately, the thing of most value to me is being an ISE member and an active participant in, and contributor to, the community we are all part of.

Originally it was my employer’s long term participation in the ISE network which was the catalyst inspiring me to become more closely involved in supporting the ISE from a strategic perspective. The personal value I have derived has been substantial. The network, knowledge and supplier relationships we all have instant access to through our membership have helped me and the Pinsent Masons Early Talent team to evolve and deliver our graduate and new apprenticeship programmes, strategically and operationally.

It’s with that overarching vision front of mind that the Board will focus our strategic priorities on for the next few years. Our three areas of strategic focus are:

  • Building a thriving community.
  • Enabling apprenticeship excellence.
  • Shaping the future of student employment.

Providing more detail on what each of those strands involves is a topic for a future blog. Suffice to say, the Board is fully committed to deliver what our members and the wider early talent sector needs to maximise their own organisations’ success.

Whether that is influencing future government policy on how we use our apprenticeship levy, maximising positive student outcomes or simply helping each other out by sharing our expertise, my aim as Chair is for the ISE to be the first place our members look when they have a challenge or development need to address.

Dinesh Paliwal tells us that, ‘Collaboration is a key part of the success of any organisation, executed through a clearly defined vision…based on transparency and constant communication.’

Communication and collaboration between and amongst our members and Board is mission critical to achieving our vision. So, my call to arms to our members is to continue those conversations, ask questions about the things challenging your organisations and provide your feedback on what the ISE can do to best support and enable you in your roles. That’s what a thriving community is all about and how together we will realise our vision.

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