Meet David Johnson: General Manager at Marmax and school governor

David Johnson, General Manager at Marmax Products in Stanley, County Durham, very recently started his volunteering journey as a school governor at North Durham Academy, a school of just under 1000 pupils located in Stanley. David attended his very first governor meeting just this month so we took the opportunity to speak to him about what inspired him to get involved, how he is already using his skills in the role – and why others in the North East business community should consider getting involved too.

What inspired you to get involved in volunteering as a school governor?

I was invited to the Attracting and Retaining Talent event which was jointly hosted by Business Durham, North East Ambition, North East Local Enterprise Partnership, New College Durham, and the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) which helps businesses learn about the skills support streams available, regardless of business size, to source, secure and fund talented workers, as well as upskill existing staff. I met Lucy Johnson from the North East LEP who first helped our business engage with local schools and colleges, and then suggested that I sign up to an Inspiring Governance webinar to find out more about volunteering as a governor and see if it was for me. I joined the session and I was inspired to seriously consider a role as a school governor.

I have two daughters who have recently left secondary school and college and felt I had an up-to-date parental perspective to offer, but I also wanted to help teachers, parents and pupils to understand what is required in the world of work and how we could help with supporting school visits, careers talks and work experience. As a local business in Stanley, this made my company a great alliance and myself a perfect candidate to support the school’s governance team.

How did you find the right role for you?

I signed up to Inspiring Governance and logged in to the platform which showed available vacancies. Although I live in North Tyneside, I wanted to volunteer in an area that I had a personal connection to so I felt drawn to volunteer in the area where I work. I had already met with teachers at North Durham Academy while we were planning engagement activities, so it seemed a natural progression to apply for the governor position at the academy.

What skills and insight are you beginning to bring to the governing board from your professional background?

At the first Local Governing Body meeting, I was encouraged to comment on the agenda points under discussion. Although education and business are very different in many ways, there are similarities of approaches that can be applied and sometimes a second opinion or perspective can be useful in discussing improvements and problem solving. New governors are also encouraged to support the school improvement plan and Ofsted framework activities and I have already committed to support monitoring visits of maths and parental engagement initiatives. I have been involved in the automotive industry for most of my working career, working with and promoting Japanese improvement techniques and I think the culture of continuous improvement can be useful in all settings. I also have worked within a working environment controlled by a Quality Management System which I think will be useful in helping the academy in their auditing of their procedures and processes.

What do you think are the benefits of getting involved in school governance to employees of other small businesses in the North East?

The school will be really appreciative of the support you can offer – they want to ensure they are preparing pupils for their adult life and their role at work so your skills and experience will definitely come to the fore, whether supporting a careers event, providing work experience opportunities, getting involved in discussions around the importance of core skills such as maths and English – any way that another voice can reinforce the development of knowledge and skills that are needed later in life. Another benefit is that will bring awareness of your organisation to schools and its stakeholders, which can present lots of opportunity for your business – including meeting potential team members of tomorrow!

Could you join David in supporting schools and young people in the North East? Find out more about the role and how to sign up with Inspiring Governance.

Read more about the role of school governor here