My SBM Life by Lesley Burton

My SBM Life by Lesley Burton

What’s your job title and the name of your school? 

Executive Business Manager at St John’s CE Primary and Woodlands CE Primary

How long have you been an SBM? 

For 14 years – is it really that long???

What was your path to SBM? 

I trained in accountancy general practice before working in the import and export of industrial plant for 2 years. Then I spent 5 years in finance for Hilton hotels…so a varied path!

How would you describe the role of an SBM? 

The best job in the world! Magic weaving and happiness spreading to help change children’s lives.  I love it!

What are the 5 key elements of your role? 

Little people, big people, pennies and pounds, yummy meals, keep nasty people away (intruders and Ofsted) and making things happen.

What characteristics do you believe make for a Smart SBM? 

The ability not to take yourself too seriously and to be able to belly laugh. A sense of humour is paramount. You have to have broad shoulders, a skin like a rhino, a heart like a lion and be able to give good hugs.

Why do schools need an SBM? 

Because all schools need a heartbeat. We are the weather and the ones who make things happen. 

Have you ever reached the bottom of your to-do list? 

I wish! I write things on it I’ve done just so I can tick them off.

What’s your top tip for saving time at work? 

Use the help from the team around you. By delegating and asking for help you not only manage your time well but help develop those around you. A good leader stands aside for someone to exceed.

What’s your top tip for saving your school money? 

Talk to other SBLs via forums and Twitter. You can guarantee someone knows a good supplier, or is willing to participate in group procurement. Don’t re-invent the wheel.

What’s your biggest pain point when it comes to procurement? 

Obtaining three quotes can be hard and frustrating but it’s a necessary part of the process. Learning to be patient has been hard for me.

Most SBMs we meet say that networking is a key to the role – what’s the most valuable thing you’ve learnt from one of your SBM peers?

We’re all winging it so just smile, act confidently and they’ll believe you!

Tell us about an hour of your day today…

I got stuck in traffic for nearly two hours on the way to school, so I rang the Head who was also stuck and we sorted some staffing issues out, then mopped up a leak with the Site Manager, listened to a child read me his work, gave a member of staff some TLC and I’ve just approved payroll.

What’s the last thing, professionally, that surprised you? 

The Government telling us yet again that the cure to the funding crisis is monitoring photocopying. I was so frustrated I physically cried. I wish they would spend a day on the front line; it would soon change their views.

What is the most rewarding aspect of being a SBM? 

Knowing I make a difference to children’s lives. Seeing their faces and hearing their stories when they return from a trip often has me close to tears.

SBM, SBP or SBL – where do you stand on the title? 

I don’t mind to be honest. Someone once asked me ‘are you the typist?’ I’ve stopped answering!

How do you see the role of SBM within the SLT? 

It is essential and a non-negotiable. You would never build an extension at home without knowing how much money you had to do it with, or without other family members knowing what was happening. The same applies. We can’t make things happen if we don’t know what the school wants to happen.

How important do you think the head teacher / SBM relationship is? 

It’s critical; without this unity, the foundations are shaky.

What do you think is the key to a good head teacher / SBM relationship? 

It’s like a marriage. You may disagree behind closed doors but work together to find a solution.  You have to protect fiercely and love unconditionally.

What advice would you give to someone new coming into an SBM role? 

Don’t try and do everything because you will never be able to. You will never know everything; we all learn every day. Find a network as a priority and use that help.  Then get a magic wand; every SBM needs a magic wand.

How do you handle a bad day at the office? 

There are no bad days. Some may be challenging but tomorrow is a new day.

What do you do to de-stress after a long day at school? 

I sing loudly in the car on the way home (I have quite a long journey). I am supported so well at home that I am soon able to relax.

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This article forms part oour Smarter SBM series, which supports the launch oour new Smart Ordering function. Informed by, and created for SBMs, Smart Ordering is range of great online features and tools that can transform a school’s office with a smarter way of purchasing. It has been developed by the team at GLS Educational Supplies to help save schools money, by making the process of buying school supplies faster, smoother and more affordable. A claim evidenced by the 10,536 schools that have saved £2,074,168 since its launch in September 2017. Find out more about how Smart Ordering can save your school time and money here