Building school leadership in California

Education is one of Bain’s global social impact priorities.  Here, Ashwin and Carey, a Consultant and Associate Consultant in our Los Angeles office, talk about their recent experience on an important, ongoing education project in California. 


Over the last four months, we have had the opportunity to work with SCALE (Stuart Foundation California Leaders in Education), a group of 14 superintendents and CEOs from some of the largest districts and Charter Management Organizations (CMOs) in California that represent over one million students. Sponsored by the Stuart Foundation and facilitated by Bain, SCALE’s members come together to learn about leading organizations and tools they can take from the private sector and apply within their organizations. Bain has led a series of workshops over the past two years that aim to build leadership capacity and provide tangible tools to help these educators better lead their organizations. An example of some of the ideas and tools we’ve shared with this group can be found in our whitepaper, Building Pathways: How to develop the next generation of transformational school leaders.

We were both involved in organizing several workshops, which included topics on effective decision-making, developing teacher leadership pathways, and designing high-functioning schools. The feedback we’ve received from SCALE on these workshops has been extraordinary. They value the content and tools that we provided and have subsequently shared their learnings throughout their districts. Moreover, after the first set of workshops concluded, they unanimously agreed to commit to two more years and asked Bain to lead future sessions. Our work with SCALE was also highlighted in a paper written by the American Institutes for Research (AIR) and it was great to read about the impact we’ve had with these leaders.

While we worked closely together throughout the case, we each walked away with unique experiences and personal accomplishments.

Carey’s experience:

I’ve had a long-standing passion for and commitment to the non-profit sector, so was incredibly excited when I learned about a possible pro bono staffing. I initially worried whether I would learn as much as my non-pro bono peers, but those concerns were quickly put to rest. With varied qualitative and quantitative learnings, the case was deeply fulfilling both professionally and personally. Ashwin and I had a great deal of exposure to the biggest challenges facing California educators and played large roles in shaping the content with which the workshop participants so enthusiastically engaged. I think Bain’s outside-in business perspective has been very helpful to the SCALE leaders, and seeing its impact has reaffirmed my long-term interest in potentially working in the non-profit world. And all in all, we had an incredibly worthwhile cause underlying our day-to-day work: helping to pave the way to a brighter future for California’s next generation of leaders and thinkers.

Ashwin’s experience:

When my staffing manager told me that an education case was looking to staff people, I immediately jumped on the opportunity. Having attended a California public institution myself, I thought this would be a great chance to make an impact on the state’s education system and to learn more about a sector that I’d never worked in.  During my time on the case, I learned so much about the education landscape in California and had the opportunity to interact with a number of district and CMO leaders.  While our team has now wrapped up, this experience has spurred a personal interest for me to stay involved with education, as I am now advising the Board of a local charter school in Los Angeles.  Working with SCALE has not only added to my professional development, but has also given me exposure to social impact work that I know has tremendous value.

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