It’s all about managing people ...

Martin McGuire
Martin McGuire

ADAM Smith College will be glad to see the back of 2012.

One more week and the campus will be able to close the doors for the final time - and hopefully say a final goodbye to its own ‘annus horribilis.’

Now on its third principal in 12 months, the college will break for Christmas with external auditors still on campus following concerns over the handling of European-funded projects.

And the in-tray of Martin McGuire, the new man in the hot seat, awaits the conclusions on how to resolve issues over several senior staff who have been away from the desks, in some cases, since early this year.

Two months after taking over, the former principal of Cumbernauld College, is confident the college will emerge from any short-term reputational damage and be in good shape to focus on the merger which is now just eight months away.

August 1, 2013 is Vesting Day when Fife will have a single merged college.

It’s a massive task and one that will ultimately lead to job losses as courses and buildings are brought together and resources shared.

The new college will have campuses across the region, but it will also have one over-arching board of governers.

He said: ‘‘Mergers bring rationalisation - there will only be one principal for a start.’’

The work has already begun, although the impact may not be fully felt for another year.

‘‘We are playing our full part in the merger and making a significant contribution to moving it forward.

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‘‘It will take up a huge amount of our time, but there will also be a series of consultations over what the merged college will look like.

‘‘It isn’t for me to say what the end result will be - I really, really hope that as many people in the college and who have an interest in what it does have their say and get a chance to shape it.

‘‘We will get a one-stop shop that students and employers can engage with, and I hope it provides the best future for Fife and widens access for students to further education.

‘‘Technology allows us to deliver courses in so many ways, so I hope towns which have not had access to courses run by Fife’s colleges will now do so.

‘‘My remit is to prepare the college for merger on August 1, and I am confident it will be in the best shape possible.’’

But will the students notice a huge difference come V-Day?

‘‘It’s impossible to streamline everything on day one,’’ he said. ‘‘We have to look at everything from estates to IT to finance and to staffing.

Project milestones

‘‘There may be very little change as far as academic delivery is concerned in 2013-14, but the following year I would expect to see significant changes as far as courses are concerned.’’

With a project manager appointed to ensure key milestones on the route to merger are met, the day to day running of the college continues - and Mr McGuire has been impressed at what he has seen on his tour of the campuses.

‘‘Adam Smith has a terrific reputation for teaching and learning, and that has not changed,’’ he said. ‘‘I see a lot of good practices going round the college and visiting departments.

‘‘My management style is to engage with staff as much as I can.

‘‘It’s all about people, and managing people.

‘‘When they see there is someone there who will support them, value them and work with them and make it an enjoyable place to work then things will happen.’’