Working with Richard was without doubt the best professional experience I had during the relocation process. By way of background, I am a Managing Director and have a great deal of experience interacting with a wide range of professional services firms.
I would highlight a few strengths:
- Listening/understanding: As you can imagine, uprooting oneself from home is one difficult thing, but the thought of moving one's kids is entirely another. It is easy to feel enormous anxiety in the process, and one of the biggest fears is finding the right schools in the midst of a complex and different education system. Richard spent a great deal of time with us up front asking about our young children, their needs, their personalities, our values, and our own vision for their education. He took notes, and subsequent conversations proved that he had digested and retained this information. He then applied his knowledge of us to his formidable knowledge about a wide range of London schools, and walked us through an initial selection process.
- Depth of knowledge: We had tried to arm ourselves with Ofsted and Good Schools Guide information about a range of possibilities - it was impressive to hear Richard address and critique each of these studies. More than knowing facts about the schools, he clearly knew about their people and cultures, something that's impossible to get from a book. His command of these nuances helped us to identify that we were as focused as much on culture as resources/statistics, and then helped us find a list of schools with cultures that matched our own.
- Relationships: Richard is incredibly careful both before, during, and after the process to indicate that he cannot "help your child get in" to a school. And I likewise believe that the schools with which we interacted were careful to remain objective when choosing students. That said, the schools all clearly had very strong relationships with Richard, and I suspect they were able to trust his portrayal of our situation and children. We saw this much less as a help in getting in to a given school, and much more in helping us have confidence that the schools "knew what they were getting" with our kids - their strengths and weaknesses - and had the right resources and skills to educate them.
- Results: At the end of the day, we were delighted with the school Richard helped us select. The school isn't perfect - indeed, its weaknesses are precisely those that Richard warned us about - but it was clearly the right place for our children. I was expecting that our relationship with Richard would end soon after our children had their first day of school, but he has consciously stayed in touch - helping us to think about our children's' next steps and simply taking an interest in our lives. As I said, he is simply a pleasure to work with.