This term we are delighted to have welcomed Michael Russell (ACMA) to Emanuel School as the new bursar. He replaces Nick Grenfell-Martin, who, as acting bursar, carried the school through the start of the Covid-19 pandemic from April to December 2020.  

Michael’s career experience predominantly lies in property, leisure and investing. He has worked on notable projects including the regeneration of Hammersmith and the redevelopment of Tower Gate and the Royal Mint Court (both located on the north bank of London’s Tower Bridge). The latter was bought in 2018 as the new London embassy for China. Beyond property, Michael has worked in private equity at JLL and Charlemagne Capital.  

Chelsea fans will be interested to hear that Michael’s career history includes Finance Director at Chelsea Village, where he worked on a 75 million bond which allowed the completed redevelopment of Stamford Bridge and its accompanying leisure facilities. Michael has been a Chelsea fan since the age of 10.  

As the bursar of an independent school, Michael’s new role includes responsibility for all non-academic matters (such as school finance and funding for major developments, HR, IT, compliance and estates). Working alongside the headmaster, the bursar ensures that the school is operating so that teachers can successfully fulfil their roles. Michael compares this role to being a ‘COO’ (Chief Operating Officer), where the headmaster is the ‘CEO’ (Chief Executive Officer). At Emanuel, Michael’s main projects will include the redevelopment of the school site, starting with Phase 1 of the school’s masterplan, and the redevelopment of Blagdons sports ground.  

Michael is a qualified accountant but says that entry into such careers is now very different to when he was starting out. As well as having specific qualifications to secure specialist roles, he lists interpersonal and communication skills as the top two attributes students should have when considering a career in finance. “Most roles are about how you get on with people, and those interpersonal skills definitely help. You should also have things that make you stand out from the crowd – whether that’s personality, or things that you’re interested in. When companies are receiving hundreds of personal statements or CVs, you need to have something to differentiate yourself.”  

In his free time, Michael is a keen sportsman; he enjoys football, rugby and cycling, and the occasional holiday (in a pandemic-free world!).