Leadership Spotlight: Adam Oliver

We’re pleased to feature Adam Oliver who was part of an ISS Administrative Search earlier this year for Head of School at Robert College in Istanbul. Adam started in his new role in July 2019 and we’re glad to share his story.

Before his move, Adam was Vice Principal and Head of Schools at St George’s British International School, Rome. He holds a MA Hons in English Language and Literature from St Andrews, a PGCert in Education from Keble College (Oxford), a NPQH from the Institute of Education, University College (London), and a MSt in Creative Writing from St Edmunds (Cambridge).



Any interesting story about you that you would like to share?  

In my younger years, I cycled coast-coast across America, and also from London to Istanbul. Both trips were huge learning experiences for me, and certainly taught me that even challenges that seem too large to handle can be managed through the right strategies, such as careful planning and segmenting one big target into many smaller, more manageable ones. And eating unfeasible amounts of pasta – that was an important strategy too.  

How did you first become interested in education? Please tell us about your education philosophy and leadership style. What excited you about the new role at Robert College?

I became an educator because I wanted to work with my subject area. The love of teaching grew from there.

I looked forward to leading Robert College in a way that focused on people, and on bringing the very best ideas in education to bear. My goal is to enable everyone to thrive. To achieve that, I want to focus on the ıdea of connectıon: to ourselves, to others, and to the natural world.

The opportunity to lead a school with the reputation of Robert College is a huge honor and privilege. I am particularly excited about the chance to work with such incredibly gifted people: the students match the best in the world, and the entire community is characterized by excellence.

Now that you’ve been at Robert College since July, how has the transition into the role and school been? Any highlight school events for you so far?

The Robert College community has been incredibly welcoming at every level, and their strong support has made the inevitable difficulties of transitıon very easy to deal with. We already feel very much at home.

Robert College’s students are astonishing, and any event involving them is guaranteed to be interesting and innovative. When the whole community gathers, such as at our recent annual Homecoming, the sense of family spirit is remarkable. 

What have you enjoyed about living in Istanbul?  

Istanbul is one of the world’s great cities, a metropolis in the true sense. There is a vibrant modern culture, and layers of fascinating history. With several UNESCO World Heritage sites, the city equals any other for spectacular architecture and art. It is a privilege to live here.

And finally, what was the Administrative Search recruitment experience like for you?

During the selection process for my new role, I always felt fully supported by ISS. I was privileged to work with senior colleagues, possessing a wealth of experience as former school leaders themselves. Liz Duffy and Beth Pfannl provided me with honest, realistic evaluation as the process progressed, measured and helpful input during its key phases, and continuing support in its final acts.

Since my appointment, they have continued to be available to offer advice during my induction period. Add all this together and the overall support can be described in a single superlative: superb.



Adam made the move with his wife Rima Berro Oliver, along with their pet dog and cat Chloe and Misu. Thank you for taking the time to share your journey, Adam, and we wish you the best in the rest of the school year!

If you’re interested in pursuing a school leadership position, check out our current leadership searches. Our ISS Administrative Search Team is also ready to be in touch and help you learn more.