Associate Professor George Odhiambo first joined the Excelsia College team in 2018 as the Chief Academic Officer, having previously held academic positions at the University of Sydney in the field of educational leadership and policy for nearly 15 years. After George decided to join Excelsia, God used his worried state about future career opportunities as a reminder to trust Him with everything that happens in life. ‘Over the years, I have not only shared with colleagues my academic and research skills and abilities through the job that are valuable but have also developed my skills and abilities and remembered to trust Him,’ explains George. George describes himself as ‘an enthusiastic, creative, and passionate educator, researcher, mentor, advisor, and leader who believes that all students can learn and thrive in a learning environment that is stimulating, comforting and appropriate to their unique talents and abilities’.
George’s philosophy of education is governed by equity, social justice and democratic values and he applies this same attitude to the way he engages with his colleagues. ‘God wants to teach leaders many things through our job. One of them is to learn to love people even though I might not agree with their points of view! People you lead and colleagues may not necessarily be people you would choose to be with five days a week, eight hours a day but each relationship I have built with each individual has added certain values and support to my achievements.’ A Christian workplace is similar to secular organisations in the sense that individuals have to deal with conflict and navigate different working and communication styles; however George believes Christians should pray and advocate for moral consistency. ‘Not just for our sake, but also for a just and good outcome for all of society. The important thing is to remain faithful to God in whatever situation He’s called you to,’ he says.
It is this faithfulness that George seeks to carry out in his role as an academic leader. ‘I have learned that people want to know the yard sticks you will use to assess situations and assess their contribution and see that you hold yourself accountable to these measures in everything you do. I have learned that teams will have people with different styles, skills, situations and needs, and my job as leader is to understand that and then adapt my support and coaching to fit the individuals. I have learned the importance of building effective and respectful teams; avoiding doing other people’s jobs for them; being clear about the outcomes needed as well as being humble and keeping a sense of humour.’
George takes Jesus’ commandment seriously to love one another, explaining, ‘Almost every job places you in the company of other people, and you have the privilege, the great opportunity, to learn to love people with God’s kind of love. That means you become more and more like Jesus.’ This theme of love carries through to George’s favourite book of the Bible, 1 Corinthians Chapter 13 which he says, ‘teaches us the true definition of love’. The passage says, ‘Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.’
Spiritual growth doesn’t just occur through Bible studies, church attendance or prayer, even though they are all important activities in the lives of a Christian. George has learned that a workplace can be a place of spiritual growth, sometimes having the biggest impact on an individual’s walk with God. ‘I have come to look at Excelsia College as a classroom and a mission field, where I have grown much faster and in so many diverse ways. The College is a friendly place, challenging, motivating, engaging and nurturing.’
If you are interested in becoming a leader within the field of education, why not explore our Master of Educational Leadership? The course could open doors to roles such as school principal or curriculum leader.