Meet our team: Mark
Ten years working in the Catholic education system has not only given Edstart’s Head of School Partnerships Mark Baldasso a deep understanding of how schools work, but a passion for increasing access to education, something he’s since turned into a personal mission.
Last year when he was considering the next step in his career, the thought of moving away from schools wasn’t easy. When an opportunity presented itself at Edstart, he felt it could be a chance to pursue his goal of helping more families provide the best possible education for their children.
Outside of work Mark balances his spare time between being a family man and an avid sports fan. He gets no greater satisfaction than spending time with his two boys, but give him a chance and you’ll find him on the golf course or in the stands supporting his team at the MCG.
Hi Mark, thanks for taking the time to talk to us. Firstly, what do you do at Edstart?Sure thing, to start with my title is Head of School Partnerships. What that means day-to-day is I spend a lot of time looking after and building relationships with different school governance groups across Australia. This allows me to fulfil a bit of a personal mission - to have a broader, more systemic impact on access to education.
I also spend time supporting the partner schools I’ve brought onboard, and helping the wider Edstart team. Bringing my ten years as a ‘finance person’ in education, and using that knowledge to support others in the company.
I heard there was a good story behind how you started working at Edstart, can you tell us about that?Yes! For a bit of context, before I was working at Edstart I was working in finance roles in schools, specifically Catholic schools, and prior to that in more general finance roles. I actually started working at KPMG in their cadetship program straight after high school.
In my most recent role I was at Siena College as the Head of Finance and Services. While working there, we made the move to implement Edstart Plus. I saw the impact Edstart had on our parent community, and also on the effectiveness and the efficiency of our finance team and our finance function. And just saw how everybody was benefiting, which was fantastic.
I was at a bit of a crossroads in my career at this point. I loved working in schools, but I’m big on systemic change. It was great having this impact at one school, but after seeing the results, I wanted to bring this service to more schools so that more families could benefit. So I decided to approach Jack [Stevens - Edstart CEO] and ask him for a job. It turned out the timing was great, I got the job, and I’ve been doing it now since October 2022.
How do you think your prior experience helps you in your position at Edstart?I think from working in schools, I have a combination of education and finance experience that allows me to understand how schools operate. From working for Melbourne Archdiocese Catholic Schools, where I was looking after around 85 primary schools to my time at Mercy College and then Siena College.
It's given me a deep understanding of the challenges schools face every day, from the administrative side, all the way through to managing the complex relationships between all school stakeholders and balancing this with a high standard of pastoral care.
I have this knowledge of the finance function of schools, but also an understanding of the interconnectedness of different departments at a school. How learning and teaching and finance and admin come together. This helps me relate to the schools that I work with now. I think that they like that too, it gives them some comfort that I come from the system.
What about working at Edstart makes it special for you?I think the company's vision is brilliant. Moving away from working in a school was challenging for me. But the vision of Edstart, and the people working there really grabbed me. Everyone in the company cares about what they’re doing. Everyone approaches work in a real genuine and even pastoral way.
Another thing is as the company has grown, leadership has been very deliberate in ensuring we haven't scaled in the wrong way - Edstart has maintained the customer centric focus that makes what we do so special.
One last question, anything you are particularly proud of since working here?When I’m speaking with some of the Principals I’ve been working with, and hearing them say things like they've seen a visible improvement in their relationships with families. That they’re so much more focused on the students and the care and wellbeing instead of spending time on difficult conversations around school fees. And that just flows onto the students, we know that goes on to the students.
So yeah I'm probably most proud I think of seeing those relationships through with these particular schools, and I'm really excited to continue building on that, and helping more schools to experience it.