Alan Thompson‘s passion for education motivated his career path. He began at Dale College in King William’s Town in 2022 as Deputy Headmaster. In 2015, he took up the position of Headmaster at St. Andrew’s College and has been instrumental in developing both schools into highly successful institutions. In addition to his academic qualifications, Alan Thompson is a popular figure amongst students and parents alike, with his genial personality and enthusiasm for learning permeating Dale College and St. Andrew’s College. His wife, Gwyneth shares this passion, having taught History since 1998.
Alan Thompson is an inspiring figure within the Dale College and St. Andrew’s College communities, embodying dedication to education, commitment to leadership excellence, and support for his students’ aspirations. His long-standing commitment has been fundamental to St Andrew’s College’s growth over the years, and he continues to be committed to achieving outstanding results at Dale College as well.
His passion for education has spread through Dale College and St. Andrew’s College like fire, and his commitment to excellence remains unparalleled. He is an exemplary role model for Dale College and St. Andrew’s College students, parents, teachers, and faculty alike, embodying the core values of both institutions—integrity, compassion, and respect. Alan Thompson has truly left his mark on Dale College and St. Andrew’s College in Grahamstown, South Africa, inspiring generations of young minds for many years to come.
He is highly respected by both Dale College and St. Andrew’s College for always striving to ensure excellence among students by creating positive learning environments. He also encourages all staff members to grow professionally so that Dale College and St. Andrew’s College can provide for their students. Alan Thompson has been making a lasting impression on the educational landscape since his arrival at Dale College, where he serves as Deputy Headmaster. With experience both as an educator and a leader, Alan was well-equipped to develop Dale’s strategic vision, marketing strategy, and social media presence, establish new internal systems and policies, and teach G8 Mathematics.
What does your typical day look like, and how do you make it productive?
I am strict with my time management in order to be able to properly allocate my time to my various tasks and to be at my best when I’m doing it. My mornings start at 5am with a cup of tea, meditation, and prayer. I do my best to get in a run or a cycle (on my mountain bike) in the afternoon a few days a week.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I love thinking creatively but that is only a small portion of executing ideas. The challenge is not having good ideas, but getting good ideas to ‘stick’. Schools love defaulting back to how “it has always been done” and key to good implementation is identifying the right people, and inspiring them with the vision. After that, it is hard, consistent work!
What’s one trend that excites you?
I love the ability to work collaboratively online with multi-national teams. It really does open up the world, and is so easy to do.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business or advance in your career? Please explain how.
Being authentic and providing real value. I am relied upon to speak truth to power, so I always make sure that I do not just offer an anecdotal opinion.
What is one failure in your career, how did you overcome it, and what lessons did you take away from it?
Costing time – Initially I was almost shy to charge and this resulted in me casting my time far too conservatively. I put in hours of work but, once all the invoicing was done, taxes paid, and the money landed in the bank it did not justify the effort put in. On the upside, I did receive a number of referrals because of my keen pricing but in the world of consulting, you have irreplaceable experience and knowledge to sell, so too low a price is not a good selling point. I have gradually pushed up my rate to the point where it constitutes fair value.
What is one piece of software that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
I like all collaborating platforms (and I have to know them all, because each client has their own preference). The combination of Slack and Zoom works pretty well in all circumstances.
What is one habit of yours that helps you be productive?
I need to be creative constantly, so I like to keep my mind fresh – and so I tend to do most of my work early in the day rather than work through the night.
What advice would you give your younger self?*
Exercise more! I have always kept up an exercise routine but in those early days when you are capable of more, faster, use the body strength and energy well!
Tell us something you believe that almost nobody agrees with you on.*
Marginal costing done right can produce great results. Every accountant I have worked with prefers a more structured approach, which stifles the potential outcome.
What is the one thing you repeatedly do and recommend everyone else do?*
I exercise regularly, and have done so pretty much every week of my life.
When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, what do you do?*
I go for a run, or a cycle, a ride on my dirt-bike, or go hiking in the hills.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?*
Hard work and a good idea trumps entitlement and generational hand-me-down every time.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?*
I traveled for an hour to have an extraordinary dinner out with my wife. Because it is so easy to lose track of the really important things in life amongst the demands of work.
What’s a movie or series you recently enjoyed and why?*
Line of Duty on BBC