Reflections on our global team and their achievements from Interim CEO, Murray Walton

IDP Education
27 January 2023

"Twelve years ago, I joined IDP as a fresher-faced CFO, ready to lead the finance function of an organisation with big plans.

Over the past decade, I have seen IDP dramatically change, grow and, ultimately, thrive.

While we have always been driven by our purpose – we empower people to change their lives through global study and career opportunities – what has evolved is our appetite for innovation, our commitment to our customers, and our support for each other.

Over the last six months, I have been fortunate to see an even broader view of the organisation as I acted as our Interim CEO.

As a numbers person who gets excited about well-prepared budgets and accounting standards (which my kids remind me is boring), what has stood out during these recent months has been the passion of our diverse, exceptional people.

Ahead of welcoming our new CEO, Tennealle O’Shannesy, in February, I would like to share highlights from my time as interim CEO and points I will take forward for the rest of my career.

Our counsellors and IELTS test centre teams are the heart of our business

In late 2022, I visited teams across South East Asia, the Middle East, Africa and India. I always knew our teams were experts, but what shone through brightly was the compassion of our teams.

I heard from counsellors who connected families with emergency visas when their child was sick and others who facilitated accommodation when students got stuck. I heard so many stories that seemed extraordinary to me but are part of the day-to-day roles of our team.

This goes to the heart of our human-centric approach. No AI system in the world can match the kindness and care I see in our counsellors and test centre teams.

Our innovation in digital is enhancing this human experience

While we are a people-driven organisation, the digital tools, platform and insights we build are enabling us to help more people in more countries.

We are automating the things that take up administrative time, which is freeing up our teams to provide real, human, advice on areas that matter. This applies not only to our students, but also our institution clients, our test takers and their families.

Our IDP App is an example of this.

Right now, over 1.7 million people have direct access to our teams through the IDP Live app on their phone. This app is their portal for expert help and the latest information our customers need to chart their own future.

Gender equality makes our business stronger, and we are getting there.

I am proud of the progress our Board of Directors and global teams are making towards achieving gender equality.

We all know that gender balance in leadership is not only fairer and more reflective of our communities, but also good for business.

Late last year, we welcomed two new directors to the Board, Tracey Horton and Michelle Tredenick. Both are accomplished leaders in the Australian business community and are already bringing new perspectives and opportunities to the IDP Board.

We will also soon welcome Tennealle O’Shannessy as our CEO. Tennealle is widely regarded as a values-based, strategic leader. We are excited to be part of IDP’s next growth stage with Tennealle at the helm.

Promoting and improving gender balance in senior leadership across our regions and business areas is equally important. We are doing this through ensuring gender balance in our succession planning for our most senior roles, and the Global Leadership Team are committed to achieving gender balance in candidate recruitment for senior roles at the shortlist and interview stages.

Our progress towards gender equality is ongoing. It is not something we tick a box for and rest. Our current aims are to have 40% of women on our board of directors by December 2023 and 40% of women in our Global Leadership Team by 2027. For our global teams, we are working to ensure gender equality is real in all areas of our organisation.

In September, we reinforced our commitment to zero tolerance of gender-based violence and introduced our Global Domestic Violence and Abuse Policy to show support for our teams.

We have more work to do in this space, but it is an area I am proud to see us move forward in.


Looking ahead 

I would like to thank our industry partners for their ongoing support.  

We achieve what we do because of the strength of the network of institutions, teams, organisations, alumni and family who work together to help people progress toward their goals.  

Looking ahead, IDP has ambitious plans. We are guided by a clear strategy and a goal to make global success a personal reality for our customers and communities worldwide.  

For me personally, while I will return to my role as CFO and my beloved spreadsheets, I do so with renewed passion, new perspectives and genuine excitement for our team.  

I can’t wait to be part of our organisation’s next chapter. " - Murray Walton, Interim CEO & Chief Financial Officer