Taaleem has appointed Alan Williamson as the group’s new CEO.
Williamson, former CEO of Kings’ Education, takes over from Ros Marshall in July. Marshall had led the organisation since November 2013.
Taaleem Holdings, a provider of early childhood, primary and secondary education, currently operates seven schools and three nurseries in the country and has a capacity of 11,000 students with current enrolment figures of around 9,000 students. It offers education across multiple curricula, including British, American and International Baccalaureate, as well as a multi-lingual early childhood programme.
Williamson told Arabian Business: “Kings’ is a strong brand in Dubai but is in reality a small schools group with a single identity. The opportunity to lead Taaleem is hugely exciting at the present time with a diverse portfolio of schools and curriculum, spread across Dubai and Abu Dhabi.”
In 2017 Amanat Holdings, the Dubai-listed firm which specialises in investments in healthcare and education sectors, increased its stake in Taaleem Holdings to 21.7 percent, becoming its largest investor. The company bought an additional 5.3 percent stake in Taaleem for AED52 million, after acquiring a 16.34 per cent holding for AED146m in the previous April.
“As an organisation, Taaleem has superb governance and is in a very strong financial position and ambitious to maximise the offering in the two cities of the UAE and expand beyond with an ambitious agenda for transformation and improvement. Kings’, while a highly regarded brand, couldn’t deliver on this level of ambition,” said Williamson.
And he has refused to rule out any more additions to the Taaleem family. “There is definitely room for expansion on the mid-market and mid-market plus sector, especially if schools are brought under ‘Taaleem’ leadership and management ensuring an experienced and talented education and business leadership team drive them forward,” he said.
According to a report from Dubai-based Alpen Capital Limited towards the end of last year, the UAE will need 150 more schools by 2022 to accommodate the growing school population in the country, which is predicted to reach 1.5 million in the next three years.
However, Williamson believes his new employers are well equipped to cope with the extra pressures.
He said: “Arguably it is very competitive in the premium sector but Taaleem are performing extremely well with the success of the Dubai British School cluster with a reputation for ‘outstanding’ British curriculum education and a portfolio of IB schools performing extremely well in relation to student outcomes, inspection gradings and student numbers.”
Williamson graduated from Glasgow University with an Honours Degree in History and Russian Language. His teaching career began in the Shetland Islands and included two headships – one at the first ever Scottish Future Trust School in Edinburgh – before moving to Dubai in 2016 to become principal at Kings’ School Al Barsha. He was later promoted to CEO overseeing Kings’ School Al Barsha, Kings’ Nad Al Sheba and Kings’ Dubai.
Williamson said: “Ros Marshal has done a superb job in her time at Taaleem and she has been incredibly supportive over a transition period that will continue into the summer. Ros has organisational and business acumen that is extremely impressive and she has left an incredible fingerprint on the organisation at all levels.”
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