Meet the team: Stephen Mitchell


Keystone is a company focused on people. 

Our approach has always been about creating a culture that genuinely values our team members, as well as being proud of their unique qualities, passion, insider experience and knowledge within the industry.

For the first in our 'Meet the Team' series, we start with our Director and CEO, Stephen Mitchell. 

Stephen is an experienced leader with a diverse background in finance and organisational leadership, as well as having an incredibly altruistic and open-minded approach to his work. 

He set up Keystone Knowledge at the beginning of 2020 to support schools and academy trusts to improve the quality of management in order to ensure that children get the best possible deal and education. 

We hope you enjoy finding out more about what makes us tick. If you have any questions for us, or a team member directly, you can reach contact us through the team page here.

Describe your role at Keystone in 3 words

Supporting, cheerleading, and empowering.

Tell us something interesting you're currently working on.

I love the work we do because, as much as it sounds like a cliché, its genuinely true. No two days are the same. We have some fantastic projects on the go at the moment. One notable one is a review of the way a particular trust is operating its central team. This is interesting because you get to really analyse and see how a trust is working, and how it's impacting upon the children in their care. Through our work, hopefully we can make recommendations that not only improve the sustainability and efficiency of the trust, the morale and working conditions of staff and its ability to invest in front line resources for education, but, we also get to leave a long term impact on helping to improve education, and the life chances of children. That's pretty epic!

What is your favourite thing about Keystone?

Our people, every day of the week. I am in the incredibly privileged position of being able to lead this group. I am humbled that this team of wonderful, diverse, crazy and brilliant people around me trust enough in the vision that we've set to join us on this journey. I am inspired by their passion every day and their willingness to absolutely do the right thing, not the easy thing.

What was your first job?

Do you mean as a cashier in Sainsburys, or my first 'proper' job? I have a bit of a rare background. I got involved in disaster relief work back in 1999 during the Kosovo war. It changed me fundamentally as a person. I always thought aid workers were people who couldn't hold down a 'proper job', (whatever one of those is), and travelled the world. My goodness, was I wrong. You see the best and the worst of humanity. But I loved it. That part of doing something that makes a difference has been pretty much a constant throughout my career. I've been very fortunate to do something I love.

What motivates you?

My family. They're the reason I get up in the morning. My son has just turned 10 and I can't believe how fast time flies. He gave me a present for Christmas just gone, a 'daddy is my hero' keyring that he'd bought in a school Christmas event. He and my wife are the centre and bedrock of my world. My wife has put up with all of my bad points for so many years - she's a living legend, and I couldn't do this without her. Everything I do, I do it for them (I'm beginning to sound like Bryan Adams there!)

Away from family life, what motivates me about working in schools? Well, that is best summed up again by my earlier career in disaster relief work. Wherever I went in the world, in the immediate aftermath of some horrible disaster, once the initial few weeks had passed you invariably saw children going back to school. Irrespective of which continent I was on, when I asked families why they sent their children out to school, given how much loss and devastation they had been through, to a person they replied with a variant of 'because I want my child to have a better life than me'. The fact that they believe in the power of education to transform lives is something that has stuck with me. In this country, with all that we have, we absolutely owe it to our kids to give them the best education we can. It really is the silver bullet. I love the feeling you get when you know that the work you've done has enabled a positive change in a school

What couldn't you live without?

Tea. Anyone that knows me knows that I am absolutely addicted to tea. Everything seems a little better after a cuppa! I'm pretty sure my family will make my gravestone out in the shape of a teapot! 

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