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As MD of Edexcel, Jerry Jarvis is responsible for the delivery of 7 million high stakes examinations, and Key stage 2 and 3 tests in England and Wales and runs a £200 million operation of employees 1,150 people and 14,000 hired examination staff.
Jerry has led the three year operational turn-around of Edexcel and focused initially on creating robust delivery and eliminating operational risk. This combined with a strong customer service focus has led to increased confidence throughout all stakeholder groups. Having improved service and delivery beyond expectation he then introduced a new portfolio in order to drive economic sustainability.
He has strongly led the drive towards innovative new products and is enabling the business to drive market share in key product areas by focusing on supporting and promoting improvements in teaching and learning outcomes.
Along with the spectacular gains in finance, service and performance, Edexcel’s acquisition by Pearson Group in 2003 has brought with it new technology generating a catalyst for change across the English examination system.
In his five years as Change Director with BAe Systems he drove through a new approach to support businesses, pioneering Business Excellence and customer service programmes which resulted in winning Management Today Best UK Service Company award
Appointments during his ten years with Marconi and Thorn-EMI, included Directorships of IT, Quality and Product Design and were characterised by technical and organisational innovations. Jerry maintained viable businesses during a long period of sector decline, taking a tactical lead in emerging technologies.
His early career included Civil Service and high volume service industry experience in senior management roles and he has an MSc in Management and Systems.
Areas of Expertise
Transforming Business Performance
Jerry has been instrumental in improving the performance of each of the business that he has been in, through the application of a series of fundamental basic rules about core processes. The experience is particularly relevant to the tasks typically facing companies in difficulty, for example, where a company has been recently acquired, or is struggling with a severe technical problem, or perhaps simply has costs that are too high. He has been likened to a ‘company doctor’ but he tends to operate inside the organisation, transforming the operation through an entrepreneurial approach to problem solving, rather than the more conventional ‘slash and burn’ cure.
Example (MD) – Edexcel was bought by Pearson in 2003. Based on the same valuation criteria (profit and future cash generation) Edexcel is now worth more than ten times its then purchase value. This was achieved through a root-and-branch change to operations. The key fundamentals of the business processes were mapped and a management structure put in place to drive success. Transformation necessarily addressed culture, values, customers, people, skills and a host of other contributing issues. Risk and the confidence of stakeholders had to be managed. Edexcel has grown in size, profitability, cash generation, customer satisfaction and influence, and leads the pack in technical innovation and performance.
Example (Business Change Director) – Alenia is a large organisation providing technical support and service to a world-wide installation of military and non-military radar installations. During the 1990s it was costly and very slow, losing business to rivals and threatening future product sales. I identified that a complete re-focusing of the business was needed and conceived a new programme across the business – Service First. Two years later I collected the Management Today Customer Service of the Year award for a thriving, slick, innovative service organisation full of switched-on teams.
Example (General Manager) – Colorworld was the most successful professional photographic processor in the UK, providing a unique set of services at prices well below rivals. Success was founded on two factors: maximisation of the utilisation of processing equipment, and the ability to deliver a unique service – 24 hour turn-around of high quality photographic services compared to rival’s four days.
During the last three years Jerry has been steadily changing the way that examinations including GCE and GCSE are conducted. Much of this change is controversial. Nearly 50% of all Edexcel UK exam papers are marked on line by non-teachers, including 15 million question responses in Australia. Marking has been moved from an ‘art’ to a measured process.
During 2007, Jerry will introduce sweeping changes to the exam programme in the UK, giving students on-line access to grades and a wealth of analytical data about their performance – they will even be ably to get an original PDF image of the paper that they sat with their handwriting and examiner comments shown. He wants to enable students to become consumers – to challenge the system – to be able to appeal results – to see whether their school is competent. These changes will affect nearly every person in England and Wales.
Jerry has considerable inside information on the future of education and the issues that would be relevant to both general and educational audiences, many of the topics being the subject of current debate.
We live in a world of complexity where individuals can often feel that they are cogs in an organisation that has little empathy or sense. Each day the systems grow more complex and the demands on people grow less logical. Almost every business is affected. Put simply, we have to somehow make sense of masses of information on our computers, conduct vast numbers of transactions, work in a company command-based hierarchy, and deal with a set of managerial egos and ambitions that cut across planned structures.
It is possible to get a large number of people to work in apparent harmony and still embrace the egos and ambitions, and to achieve remarkable outcomes. The basis for success lies in understanding the dynamics of people and information, and the command structure necessary to control and involve people. There are no hard rules, but there are principles that work, including: how information is ‘batch processed’ by people as an intuitive behaviour to the detriment of the organisation; how leadership and personal ingenuity can flourish in a strict hierarchy.
Example: In the 1990s Jerry was required to move one large manufacturing organisation from the south of England and merge it with another large organisation – both engaged in high technology, high capital defence projects. He then had to move the combined company to a new site some miles away. The new site was derelict. He was given 12 months to complete the task whilst continuing in full manufacture. No programme was to be late and no equipment or materials were to be lost. Over 400 people would be made redundant.
The task was achieved in eleven months and under budget with no losses. In addition to the obvious difficulties of logistics and control etc., there was a unique problem. Both organisations used balanced MRP systems to run their production programmes making a running merger theoretically impossible. Jerry’s team successfully conducted the only successful running merger of two balanced MRP systems ever undertaken.