Meet the Boss

Meet the Boss

Bradford Means Business meets Steve Kelly

Steve is the principal at Keighley College and has been in post for nearly two years. He has worked in further education for 25 years and previously held the position of director at a provision for 14 to 19 year olds at Leeds City College.

Please tell us a little bit about yourself

“Steve is the principal at Keighley College and has been in post for nearly two years. He has worked in further education for 25 years and previously held the position of director at a provision for 14 to 19 year olds at Leeds City College. Steve also sits on the Education Board at Sheffield Crucible and has a keen interest in personal and business development. Over the lockdown period, as a personal project, Steve wrote his first book, START – How to stop messing about and get stuff done.”

Describe the day-to-day life of your job

My day-to-day is extremely varied, including a wide range of meetings involving colleagues at Keighley College and the wider Luminate Education Group, as well as meetings with our stakeholders. My day usually starts early so I can get emails and correspondence out of the way, allowing me to spend more time with students and staff at the college. I try to get out of my office and be seen around the college.

What excites you about your job?

What motivates me daily is being able to support and positively transform lives. As a youngster I struggled in school and it was only when I went to college that I became interested in education. I am also privileged to work alongside a fantastic team at Keighley College who genuinely want the best for our students and apprentices.

What is the proudest moment of your career?

There have been many, which mostly involve students. I have particularly enjoyed graduation ceremonies – not just for degrees, but celebrations for all students who have achieved or overcome adversity or challenges in their lives.

If you knew someone was wanting to get into your industry, what advice would you give them?

Take every opportunity that comes along and don’t be afraid to ask questions as well as asking for help. “Can you help me?” is one of the most powerful questions and quite often people are happy to.  

What makes a good boss?

Trusting staff not only to make decisions but also to support them in the process. I am a great believer in situational leadership and empowering staff at all levels to be leaders. Also, openness, honesty and being authentic.

What is it you love about the Bradford district?

I have to say the diversity as well as the entrepreneurial spirit of the area. I am impressed by the community spirit and ability to adapt, change and renew.

What was the first job you had and how much did you get paid?

I worked as a paper boy Monday to Saturday, was paid £4.14 – I have no idea how that worked out.  Interestingly every week I delivered the Times Educational Supplement and years later I would be featured in it!

What did you want to be when you were 5?

My first response was milkman but have no idea why! My parents worked very hard, and I have learned from them both.

Who is your idol and why?

Nelson Mandela – for his courage, resilience and leadership

Name 4 people dead or alive you would like to go to dinner with and why?

  • Barack Obama
  • Victoria Wood
  • My late grandfather (Thomas Kelly Snr)
  • Robin Williams

I believe it would be quite a fun night!

What would you cook them?

I would probably prepare Budae Jjigae 

Who is the best person to follow on Twitter and why?

@makatonlucinda: Lucinda is a young girl who is teaching the world Makaton with her Mum and brothers

What is your favourite book?

I have many favourites, but I also enjoy writing my own. Good to Great by Jim Collins, How to be Brilliant by Michael Heppell and Start with the Why by Simon Sinek.

Non-Fiction: Lord of the Flies by William Golding which was the first book that I read from start to finish!

Please describe the best holiday you have ever been on

There have been many holidays, however most recent was a really relaxing holiday in Marrakesh. Fantastic hotel with first class service. 

Where is the one place on Earth you have always wanted to visit?

India – for the culture, history and the people

What do you do to unwind after a long day in the office?

I try to get an evening walk in if I can, which helps me to chill out and decompress. However, a nice dinner, glass of wine and a movie is good for me.

What is one thing you could not live without?


Who would play you in a film of your life?

Tricky question, never given it much thought!

What would your superpower be?

Flying – It would give me the opportunity to travel anywhere I wished.

If you were stranded on a desert island and you could have one luxury item, what would it be?

MacBook, internet connection and power!

What is your happy song?

Proud – Heather Small

If you could retire tomorrow what would be the first thing you’d do?

I am not sure I am considering retiring; my career has been quite varied. I am sure I will be still working with people.

Would you tell us a joke

As my computer password has just expired,

Apparently, you can’t use “beef stew” as a computer password.

It’s not stroganoff.

When the restrictions lift what is the one thing you are looking forward to the most?

Being with family again.

What is the craziest thing you have ever done for charity?

When I was younger played pool for 36 hours

If we gave you cheque for £1,000 which charity, would you donate it to?

A foodbank in the local area.