Education Field Provides Top Leadership Opportunities for Business, Finance, Legal, and Technology Professionals

July 24, 2013

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A new report by Education Pioneers finds that the education field is a rewarding place for America's top talent, including young people and professionals of color. According to The Invisible Lever: A Profile of Leadership and Management Talent in Education, bright managers (many with backgrounds and professional degrees outside of education, such as business, finance, law and technology) who have worked in the education field view the nearly $600-billion sector as a worthwhile, fulfilling place to apply their knowledge and skills.

The report--which is based on a survey of 1,300 professionals who entered a broad range of education leadership jobs beyond the school building--finds that many education organizations, including school districts and charter management organizations, are willing to offer significant management opportunities to young leaders that are on par with, and often exceed, those in the private sector. The report was made possible with support from MetLife Foundation.

Young education leaders are twice as likely to have high-level management responsibility (managing managers or entire functions, groups, or organizations) (23 percent vs. 12 percent). These trends--high rates of employment and significant management responsibility--also hold true for young leaders of color in education. Black and Latino leaders are four times as likely to manage a group as their peers in the private sector (20 percent vs. 4 percent).

Participants in the survey included more than 80 percent of the alumni of Education Pioneers, a national education nonprofit that increases the supply of leadership and management talent in key education organizations such as reform-minded school districts, high-performing charter school networks and innovative education organizations.

Since its founding a decade ago, more than 1,600 Education Pioneers Fellows have brought their unique skill sets to more than 180 education organizations nationwide through the Fellowships. More than 70 percent of those alumni in the workforce have remained in the education sector, representing a significant and forward-thinking segment of emerging educational managers and leaders who guide the work of public schooling in school districts and other organizations.

"We're proud of our alumni. These high-performing professionals have made an immediate impact on education organizations seeking to develop more effective policies and systems to support educators and achieve increased learning in tight economic times," according to Scott Morgan, founder and CEO of Education Pioneers. "We hope this report raises awareness about the potential for the sector to continue to use this talent and sets the stage to address the need for more leaders and managers in the years to come."

While a new cadre of managers and leaders has entered the education field, many more--particularly those with sharp analytical skills--will still be needed in the years to come. New leaders must be able to work effectively with both business and student outcomes data to make important strategic, operational, and instructional decisions. Fifty-five percent of alumni working in education sector reported being in analytical roles. "Quality talent is the single most important driver in creating and supporting great schools," said Chris Barbic, Superintendent of the Achievement School District in Memphis, Tenn. "We're excited to partner with Education Pioneers to help expand the pipeline of great people working to improve public education."

The report acknowledges that bringing in people and effective practices from beyond education is not the only solution. More efforts will be needed to strengthen the leadership pipeline from within education. Equally important, more education-sector employers will need to invest time and money on management training, leadership development, and strengthening data analysis and related skills.

About Education Pioneers

Education Pioneers mobilizes and prepares a national network of talented leaders and managers to accelerate excellence in education and transform our education system into one that equips all students with the skills they need to thrive in college, career and life. Through the organization's Fellowship and Alumni programs, Education Pioneers increases the talent supply of top leaders in education to improve the leadership capacity in key education organizations--such as school districts, charter school organizations and nonprofits--and to advance our goal to make education the best led and managed sector in the U.S. To fuel this vision, Education Pioneers plans to recruit 10,000 leaders, managers, and analysts by 2023, and connect the leaders in its network with high-impact leadership roles in key organizations across the education sector. More information about Education Pioneers can be found at

Since 2005, the California Charter School Association has welcomed graduate students each summer from the Education Pioneers Fellowship program to provide their expertise, perspectives and elbow grease to some of the pressing challenges that charter schools face.

See profiles on some of the Education Pioneers that have completed projects at CCSA.

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