a few words from our clients.
We’re only happy when you are. So it’s particularly pleasing when we hear from our clients.
Silica Associates have offered exceptional support throughout the opening of the first Connect Schools Academy Trust (CSAT) free school and through supporting Academy conversion at CSAT. It is rare to meet people with such knowledge, motivation and drive but we are pleased that we did! There were many challenges throughout the free school journey but Rama and Dafydd were here to smooth the way, always with confidence and reassurance and a determination to resolve any issue that came to light. Silica Associates have much experience working with DfE systems and processes and this ensured timelines were met and projects kept on track. Both Rama and Dafydd were always on hand beyond the normal working hours, to ensure all parties knew exactly what was going on at all times. A highly professional service that ensured outstanding results.
We have worked with Silica Associates for a number of years, supporting Inspire with some extremely complex academy conversions. On each occasion, both Rama and Dafydd have provided extremely efficient, expert advice. Their knowledge of the academy sector and the related transfer processes is quite phenomenal and very reassuring! We would highly recommend using them. The additional advantage of using Silica is also that their time management and attention to detail means projects are kept on track in a really positive way.
It was a pleasure to work with Silica in the writing of our Free School bid. From the outset, the approach of Dafydd and Rama was professional: they listened to different views and encouraged a collaborative approach to the project. When it came to writing the bid itself, the advice received from Dafydd was extremely helpful. Deadlines were always met and commitments adhered to; a positive and “can do” approach was adopted throughout the process.
The Silica duo are the rarest of powerhouses: deeply knowledgeable, positive and efficient. As important as their ability to engage effectively across stakeholders, is their ability to challenge assumptions to ensure better outcomes. I slept better confident in the work Dafydd and Rama had done.
Rama and Dafydd provided a thorough overview and detailed guidance on setting up a multi academy trust (MAT) and converting schools to academy status. They were integral to our being able to set up Cygnus Academies Trust, a new MAT, and at the same time convert the first two schools to academy status on time. Rama and Dafydd kept driving the project, using their previous DfE experience to liaise closely with the Department on timelines and to keep the projects on track. In addition, they used their excellent interpersonal skills to make sure all parties understood the process involved. All legal, consultation, financial and HR matters were kept under control and sound advice provided a strong governance footing to the MAT and the first Trust Board and Local Governing Body meetings. As a result of this engagement, the Trust has formed an ongoing partnership with Silica Associates.
Dafydd is one of those really unusual individuals. He not only knows the rules but is able to assist those he works with to navigate an efficient way of dealing with them. I am able to speak with authority as Dafydd was instrumental in guiding us through the application process for a University Technical College whilst he was with the DfE. His clear and helpful advice was of enormous assistance in achieving success in our project and his calm and authoritative approach went down extremely well with our project team. His wide ranging knowledge of Government and its methods gives him a clear advantage when dealing with the Public Sector. What is more, he delivers on his promises.
From the outset, Dafydd was an asset to the project, using his skills and experience to good effect in order for the Trust to move forward successfully. What was particularly appreciated was his flexible approach to understanding the local issues and concerns and how to balance actions needed against national and DfE priorities. Dafydd’s good people skills helped the Trust navigate and resolve sensitive issues with local schools, the local authorities and local people, and his adeptness at recognising others’ input was key to employers, businesses and the University having the clear and disticnt roles needed for the project. Dafydd’s ‘do it right’ approach was far removed from the tick box mentality that can be seen in project management and he was always keen to have a hands on approach and suggest and recommend ways to improve marketing activities, travel and education plans and to secure best value from money available.
Rama Venchard has worked with our Trust as a Project Director for the conversion of ten of our twelve sponsored academies. He came to us originally on a strong recommendation from senior officials working on the academies programme at the Department for Education. From the beginning, Rama was able to demonstrate a confident grasp of the complexities of the academy conversion process. In some cases there have been unforeseen challenges that he has handled with great professional dexterity, tact and determination, winning the respect of head teachers, governors, legal advisers and local authority representatives. It is a pleasure to work with Rama and he always presents himself well as the representative of our organisation, and though not a salaried employee of the Trust, my colleagues and I consider him to be an integral part of our senior team. I can recommend him without hesitation even for the most challenging projects and look forward to working with him again in the coming months and years as our chain continues to expand.
Rama Venchard is someone who has played a huge role in the development and recent success of The STEP Academy Trust. A mission-driven organisation, Rama immediately demonstrated alignment with the core values of our Trust. Indeed his personal integrity, allied with his outstanding skills set, has made him the ideal Project Manager for STEP. Since his appointment as STEP Project Manager, Rama has led a number of highly demanding projects, including: the conversion and renovation of Angel Oak Academy; the development of a new Targeted Basic Needs school, Heathfield Academy; and, the integration of a Free School, La Fontaine Academy, into The STEP Academy Trust. Both new provisions, Heathfield and La Fontaine have been particularly complex. However, Rama’s ability to guide stakeholders, often with competing interests, toward a common goal, has ensured both projects have continued to move forward. As well as the wealth of knowledge and experience he is able to apply, he possesses highly tuned people skills and strong emotional intelligence. This enables him to quickly assess “the temperature in the room” and adapt his approach accordingly. Perhaps Rama’s greatest contribution to STEP has been his input into the strategic development of our Trust. Rama’s support is greatly valued by directors, which is why he continues to attend all Board meetings as a strategic adviser.
Rama supported me in his role as Project Manager and, it is fair to say, one of the main reasons why we were able to open so successfully was because of his involvement. Rama works extremely efficiently and is able to ‘make things happen’ much more quickly than anyone I’ve ever worked with before. His attention to detail and his ability to multitask are impressive. Our project involved a great number of stakeholders (e.g. local community members, Local Authority officials, Department for Education officials, building contractors, etc.) and Rama was able to develop very clear processes for key relationships to be developed and for key results to be achieved. His ability to digest long and very technical documents, is second to none. Rama’s ability to think strategically enabled us to meet extremely challenging deadlines. Before Rama got involved, for instance, it was highly likely that our project would get deferred by a year, but because of his ability to speed key processes up, we were able to open three months after his initial involvement.
Already running a busy, growing College, I was only prepared to contemplate taking on a proposal to sponsor a school in difficulties if I had the right Project Manager to see us through the required processes. I was seeking a consultant who knew the people and criteria required to move swiftly though the processes, so that I could concentrate on ensuring that the issues of the school itself were addressed. Rama Venchard not only met these expectations fully, but he also engaged as required in every twist and turn of the whole project in such a way as to provide an invaluable source of advice, guidance and experience. I am delighted to be continuing to work with Rama in the next phase, as he has kindly agreed to accept a position on my Board.
Rama has been an instrumental driving force in making the project successful. He quickly gained the confidence and support of a wide partnership including University, employers, local authority and MP membership. His negotiation and communication skills enabled him to work successfully in handling often tricky and politically charged aspects of the project. Rama is connected and knowledgeable, he draws on a wide personal network and a depth of resources and knowledge. He is expert in allowing the lead sponsor to provide educational leadership whilst providing complementary support and guidance-creating a powerful combination that can maximise the project’s success and cultivate confidence with DfE officials and their consultants. Based on our experiences above, the Oxford & Cherwell Valley College group (renamed as Activate Learning) were delighted to be able to contract with Rama again as Project Manager for our second UTC project, UTC Oxfordshire.
In the field of Process Improvement I would not hesitate to recommend Rama Venchard to any Company looking for support in moving their Business forward either tactically or strategically.
Having Rama as my mentor in Whitbread allowed me to succeed in many areas of personal development I never thought were possible. Over the years as I progressed up the management ladder, Rama was always there to point me in the right direction. Without him I wouldn’t be sitting here in the Pyrenees ‘living my dream’.
We contacted Silica Associates to help with a small analysis based project we felt needed an external input as we were too close to the subject area. As is often the case we needed the work done yesterday! Having received and accepted the Silica Associates proposal that clearly laid out the approach that was to be taken and the timeframe for delivery, they produced a high quality, timely report, that delivered to expectation. Their consultant maintained an extremely professional but relaxed demeanour throughout. I would be more than happy to recommend Silica Associates for similar projects moving forward.
I worked with Rama in his capacity as Overall Project Manager (OPM) for the Wren Academy. Rama is a consummate professional and expert project manager. He is highly intelligent and able to work effectively at a strategic level, appreciating the intricacies of policy development and supporting appropriately. Rama is also a master of detail. His methodical and energetic approach means that he can be relied upon to get through large amounts of work quickly and accurately.
Intelligent, extremely hard-working, dedicated to the task and with immense reserves of energy, Rama was key to the success of the project. His knowledge of the subject was extensive and he brought it to bear in a sensitive and constructive way facilitating sensible discussion, allowing Sponsors to set the direction they wished but always providing helpful guidance to ensure time was not lost pursuing inappropriate issues. His understanding of the strategic aspects of the Academy programme was crucial and immensely helpful. His capacity for dealing with detail and ensuring nothing was forgotten was also a particular strength as was his ability and willingness to help others in their duties when they needed some assistance.
From the very first meeting, I was impressed with Rama’s ability to grasp the complex issues in the area of education which at the time he was not familiar with. Since the start of the relationship, we have worked very closely on developing and implementing a very successful project. Rama takes great care of the detail, he is not only a starter, but also a finisher. His relationship with the whole project team was excellent, showing colleagues professional respect as well as at times needing to be assertive to get the job done. He is also great fun to have around at times of tension, the “big smile” was good for defusing possible conflict.
I have worked with Rama over a number of years on many varied projects. One of the things that I really admire about Rama is that he can enter the most difficult and political of situations and work through the issues and bring them to a conclusion with all major stakeholders fully bought in. He manages this in a very calm and professional way – but ensures that he delivers the business results. His analytical and process skills ensure that he is able to meet every challenge with an appropriate methodology. The results that he delivers are tangible and measurable and he is good fun to work with as well!
I worked with Rama following an extensive Oracle ERP implementation resulting in considerable Process Improvement opportunities. His enthusiasm, professionalism and commitment was unquestioning. He led many Best Practice and process improvement implementations including Whitbread’s Quality Governance and Change Process which has proved to be a great success. His pragmatic approach to managing suppliers always ensured that the highest levels of service were achieved.
Rama has excellent facilitation skills, enabling groups or individuals to surface, discuss and resolve complex issues and/or process changes in the optimum time frame. He has an engaging style that allows him to push people hard to come to quality solutions.
Rama provides a strong focus on governance and organisational structure of a project and thus achieves high levels of business buy-in and genuine and sustained process change and improvement. Rama’s ability to maintain effective relationships at all levels made a significant contribution to the overall success of the project. A consistent and balanced focus on all stakeholders’ interests ensured core deliverables and business objectives were met and the overall timetable achieved.
I have worked with Rama on a number of projects and he is consistently, delivery focused and very process orientated. Without his structured approach the goals of these projects would not have been met. Rama is a fantastic facilitator and makes a significant contribution to the delivery of workshop goals. Rama is a highly motivated and energetic individual who can help any project team understand their goals and achieve them more successfully.
Rama has the vision to map out the journey up the steepest mountain – and will also ensure we are climbing the right mountain. A thoroughly reliable person to work with – an essential ingredient in this modern world.