Xpat Interview 2: David Porritt, Principal, BBIS

  • 8 Nov 2022 4:06 PM
Xpat Interview 2: David Porritt, Principal, BBIS
David has been serving schools as a Headteacher and Principal for 23 years and now he is the Principal at BBIS.

1. What’s been happening at work and at home since your first Xpat Interview?
(Click here to read his first interview)

Managing professional life throughout the C-19 Pandemic was, I think, one of the most stressful times of my career. But, despite the challenges and the stresses brought on by C-19 our team at BBIS handled matters superbly. In fact, during the Pandemic, we were able to gain the full authorisation of the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program and then one year later, the IB Diploma.

This means we are an IB World School, proudly flying the flag and admiring the plaque which is displayed as students enter the school. It is such an amazing achievement in a relatively short period - a true reflection of a terrific team and the leaders, particularly our owner, the leadership team and BBIS Trustees and of course, our IB Coordinator, Ms Penny Clements, who worked flat out to get us through the rigours of the authorisation process.

2. On a scale of 1 to 10 how happy are you with your life in Hungary, and why?

I'd say 9/10. I work with awesome people. I live in a beautiful country near a city which is vibrant and full of interest and culture. Apart from the road surfaces - what's not to like! 

3. What’s the best party you’ve been to while in Hungary, and why?

The British Chamber of Commerce Anniversary Party was brilliant. Not only was it a fabulously well-organised event, with great hosting, food, drinks, brilliant company and a superb band, but I won a prize in the raffle.

I think it is only the second time in my life I've won anything like that - the first was two tickets to a film I didn't want to see when I was about 25, but winning a bottle of finest single malt was great. It was also the first event people could properly attend after the worst of days of C-19. Wow -  such a relief to be able to meet people and spend time together.

4. What’s your favourite drink?

Timothy Taylors Landlord IPA if I'm in the UK and here, in Budapest, An Espresso from our school coffee bar.

5. What hidden talents do you have?

I'm a musician. I love playing keyboards and guitar and contribute on both at Danube Church where I attend along with my wife. I think, if truth be told, my talent is really on the keyboard. Guitar less so and singing a bit...well, let’s say there's room for improvement! I'm also a qualified Executive Coach and Mentor.

I'm still a Director of a UK based Professional Learning Company where I was consulting before coming to Budapest. I gained a Doctorate from UCL in Leadership and Coaching and work with a few clients who come to me for executive coaching - almost always via zoom. I love Coaching. You have to really love something if you’re going to study it for a Doctorate because it takes so long and you have to write so much.

6. What was the most interesting travel trip you have ever taken?

When we lived in Singapore, we were able to travel to various places in Asia. One of the most interesting was when we spent a month travelling around Australia. What a fantastic county. I loved it. From the tropical northern areas to snow on Wilson's Promontory, amazing food, great music, scenery and people...truly amazing. 

7. If you were given a wish that could come true, what would you ask for?

Right now - I'd wish for World Peace, the end of Poverty and Hunger, the end of modern-day Slavery, that every person has a home to live in, an end to discrimination in any form and that every child receives a great education irrespective of their background, nationality and age. 

8. What’s the last book you read, and movie you watched?

The last book I read was Turn The Ship Around by David Marquet. The Last Movie was Top Gun Maverick!

9. If someone wrote a biography about you, what would the title be?

‘Better Together’.

10. What is the perfect pizza toppings combination for you?

Mozzarella, Salami, Pepperoni, Peppers & Mushrooms.  

11. If you could trade places with any other person for a week, real or fictional, with whom would it be?

Sir Dave Brailsford- then I could manage Team INEOS professional Cycling in The Tour De France! 

12. On a scale of 1 to 10 how unusual are you, and why?

Not very unusual really – I think I am a bit too busy being a school Principal, Husband, Father, Son, Brother, Friend and Coach to be unusual. So about a 2!

13. What’s the best website you’ve ever visited, and why?

The BBC Sport Website - last night - because Sheffield United are top of the Championship!  

14. Who do you admire the most, and why?

Apart from my wife who is amazingly patient and supportive, I'd say Dr Ken Cochrum, who is a tremendous leader in the Not For Profit Sector in the USA and leads a world-wide interfaith organisation. He published a great book on leadership too. I also admire the owner of our school here at BBIS, Ms Petra Szalai who had the courage of her convictions and decided to set up a school - and then, trust me with looking after it!

15. What do you like best and least about living in Hungary?

There a lots of best things about Hungary. The Countryside is stunning. Truly fabulous. What I don't like so much is the road surfaces.

16. What has made the biggest impact on your life so far, and why?

Becoming a Christian when I was 14, meeting my wife and then, after 5 years of marriage becoming a father to two daughters. In professional terms, it was when I became one of the youngest Headteachers in the UK and then when I studied for an International MBA in Educational Leadership- this opened up my mind and showed me that there is so much to learn and benefit from by looking beyond what is familiar. This led me to become an international Principal, and that was and is the best professional thing I have ever done. 

17. If you won USD 30 million, what would you do with the money?
I’d certainly want to go on holiday for a couple of weeks and have a really good think about things. I’m sure I would invest some of it so that it provided a sustainable income. I’d want to ensure that my family was debt free, paying off student loans and set my children up with their own home. I'd want to sponsor projects that matter to me – education mostly and use a lot of the money to support educational development in places where no one is helping.

I'd most likely pass the Principalship to someone else within a year. It’s fairer to pass the opportunity and privilege of leading a school to someone else I think. Then I would focus on Executive Coaching, setting up a new business arm which provides free support to school leaders in developing countries so that they can have access to top quality learning without any of the cost. 

I think I'd change my car to a fully electric vehicle and I'm sure that I would give in to the temptation to buy a Tom Anderson Guitar – they are very special and very expensive. I’d love to own a classic car too – so I’d look for a fully restored one that I could drive at weekends. I'd want to employ someone who is super smart with investments to make sure I could continue to support and sponsor all of the projects into the future.

18. If your life had a theme song, what would it be?

I'll Get By With a Little Help From My Friends

19. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you choose?

Probably somewhere like the Sunshine Coast in Australia or Florida in the USA. It would be great to have a home in the UK and also keep our home in Hungary too as well as have somewhere in Australia. Mainly it would be near my daughters if that were possible.

20. In ten years from now what will you be doing? 

I hope by then, I will be coaching people, playing music, riding bikes, enjoying being with family and working on projects that matter, attend a great church and be a Governor of schools. I’ll be too old to continue as a school Principal by then. I might be a grandfather – that would be cool too. 

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