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Pam Mundy  | 40 Outstanding Global Women 2023

Anna Kavelj Horizontal

Innovating in international education

Pam Mundy didn’t travel abroad until she was 23. However, once she started experiencing new countries and cultures, she embraced the global lifestyle with gusto.

Her travel experience has not been without incident. She has had interesting experiences, including being deported from one (currently politically volatile and war torn) country for having incorrect paperwork due to an inexperienced Visa agent, a gunpoint encounter in another equally challenging location, and time spent with traffic law enforcement in Kazakhstan and Jakarta – none of which were her fault and all of which were resolved quickly!

“Travel changes people and you can never go back to who you were before,” she says. “Back home, I didn’t really feel that I fitted in with my own age group or the region itself when I was a child. It’s only years later that I realised I was glad I didn’t, because otherwise I wouldn’t be doing the roles I am now.”

Pam’s experience is truly international, having started out as a schoolgirl in Stoke-on-Trent in Staffordshire, working in education for many years before becoming a consultant and speaker for organisations and companies all around the world.

“ It doesn’t matter who we’re having a conversation with, The only thing that’s important at the end of it is: did I say the things and make the decisions today that will make life different and better for children today, tomorrow and in the future?” 

Pam Mundy, Executive Director at Pam Mundy Associates Ltd.

Pam provides consultancy to many of the world’s leading school and education groups, independent and international schools, UK multi-academy trusts and international Ministries of Education on strategic planning, leadership, development and expansion. She also provides advice and guidance to start-up schools on brokering and securing investment, selecting partnerships, school design and development, and is involved in a wide variety of high-net-worth education development projects worldwide.

Internationally recognised as an author and keynote speaker, she has gained global recognition for her specialism in the development of international education and school start-up, particularly in the Middle East and Africa, SE Asia, China, Latin America, Russia, Europe and the US. She operates at strategic and executive level for a wide range of international school groups, as well as education businesses and organisations.

She sits on prestigious UK and international education boards, including ACS International Schools, the Knightsbridge School, Dukes and Little Dukes Education Groups, the Summer Fields School and the Chatmore British International School, Bermuda. She is also a founding member of the global network Business Women in Education.

A passion for early years education

Pam’s father served for many years in the Royal Air Force so as a child she was aware of the wider horizons that the world offered. After school she studied for a Bachelor of Education at university and a subsequent in-service Masters degree in Early Childhood and International Education at Sussex University. She has worked as a teacher before unintentionally specialising in Early Years education when she became a deputy head and was given responsibility for the youngest children. This was quite a “culture shock” after teaching Year 6.  She then worked for West Sussex AdvisoryService before being seconded to the Department for Education. Following that, she took a “leap of faith” and moved into consultancy for the first time, establishing her own small business.

Her first foray into international education came via a speaking engagement at a conference in Japan, before working with GEMS International Schools Group in Dubai. There she met Ann McPhee, who she describes as “a real role model for me”.

She describes her as “the kind of woman who had presence, who would walk into a room and you’d know she was there without her saying a word”.

“She taught me a lot about leadership,” Pam says. “She was straightforward, direct and she knew what she wanted. She wouldn’t take substandard work and she made me see that as a female leader you could actually make a real difference.”

From there, Pam worked with Fieldwork Education (now part of Nord Anglia Education) where she spoke at conferences and worked with schools on the implementation of the International Primary Curriculum, visiting Singapore, Malaysia, Nigeria and a host of other countries. Her varied consultancy work now includes leadership development, early years education, curriculum training, school reviews and keynote speaking.

“I’m an entrepreneur by accident,” she says. “Serendipity is my favourite word and my career path has evolved organically rather than being meticulously planned. Many people say that they are a ‘people person’. I think that’s true of me too, although I’m not sure what the alternative is. However I’m also fascinated by every aspect of what it means for us to ‘be human’. I’m blessed with a very good memory and so I remember the small and yet very important things about people beyond their working lives. I think that’s what has opened doors for me in my professional life.”

Future-focused consultancy 

Pam has held a variety of executive roles with leading school groups and education-focused organisations, most recently being involved in NEOM, a ground-breaking project to develop a giga-city in Saudi Arabia, where she lived and served as the founding director of schools and education. She says it was fascinating to be involved in the plans for innovation and sustainability within schools, the development of ‘Women in Leadership’ across the Kingdom and the opportunities available from a no holds barred, technology-driven approach to education in an authentically future-focused city.

Her current work is mainly with start-up schools, and brokering partnerships between British school groups, American school groups and international school groups who are looking to expand overseas.

“One of our most recent projects is with the Charterhouse School, which is just about to open a school in Lagos in Nigeria in partnership with Huntington Education, and I am working with other British public schools, looking at territories such as the Middle East, Saudi Arabia, United States, Asia and Japan and beyond,” she says.

On a personal level, Pam has had to find ways to be resilient after a bout of the shingles seven years ago left her with facial paralysis and a problem with her speech, a condition which is now almost resolved.

As for the future, she says her diary is “pretty much professional work travel for the foreseeable future, which is fantastic”.

“For me, it doesn’t matter whether we’re having a conversation with an investor, a school group, or giving a keynote speech or meeting one-to-one with a teacher or child. The only thing that’s important at the end of it is: did I say the things and make the decisions today that will make life different and better for children today, tomorrow and in the future?” That’s my driver – and that will never change.”

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Outstanding Women 2023

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