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From Platoon Leader to Business Operations Manager — A Day in the Life of Tunde Osilaja
Success Academy – November 9, 2017
William “Tunde” Osilaja joined Success Academy as a Business Operations Manager (BOM) in September 2016 at our Bronx 3 Middle School. BOMs report directly to our Principals and serve as key members of a school’s leadership team. BOMs are responsible for managing all aspects of the day-to-day operations at our schools. Tunde graduated from West Point in 2011 and served for five years in the United States Army. In the Army, Tunde served as a platoon leader in charge of over 30 soldiers. After completing his military service, Tunde returned to West Point as an admissions officer, guiding students through the college application process. Success Academy offered the ideal opportunity to work in education and put to use the operations and leadership skills he gained in the Army.
On October 20, 2017, we accompanied Tunde as he went about his day as a Business Operations Manager. Join us and learn more about how Tunde impacts scholar lives every day.
I was in the US Army for five years, so I’m used to rising early and I hate being late for anything. I’m pretty lucky because I only live 10 minutes from school — it’s easy to be out the door by 6:15 a.m. after a quick cup of coffee.
The first thing I do when I get to school is create a to-do list for my day, for myself and for the team. No day is the same and issues always pop up so it’s important to prioritize and keep open communication with my team. I’m like a firefighter, always putting out fires. But I do like to pre-plan as much as possible.
My Ops Manager and I do a morning walk through of the school to make sure everything is ready, not only from a safety standpoint but also for aesthetics. As a BOM, I want to be sure our teachers can focus exclusively on teaching and never have to worry about broken technology, missing supplies, or classrooms that are dirty or too hot or cold. That means checking supplies daily across the school to assess near- and long-term procurement needs, and managing custodial staff to ensure they are efficiently executing maintenance responsibilities.
Today I head outside for arrival to greet scholars and check in with families. Since my team plays a critical role in managing attendance and ensuring students are at school and on time each day, building warm, personal relationships with parents is key. Arrival is one of three major parts of the school day that I’m responsible for in addition to dismissal and lunch.
An important and challenging part of my job is holding everyone in the building accountable — especially our building co-location partners. Sharing a building with another school requires close collaboration to manage complex, day-to-day scheduling. I have to be assertive, but also build strong working relationships because I'm responsible for ensuring common spaces — like the auditorium, gym, and cafeteria — are available when they're needed, and that shared hallways don't descend into chaos.
My best moments are with kids, seeing our bond grow over time. I help out with kids who are struggling with behavior and may need a time out from the classroom, and it’s critical to establish a level of trust with them. A BOM plays a dual-role. You not only lead the operations of the school, but you also shape the lives of these kids. I love that I have the opportunity to interact with scholars and parents just as much as our teachers do.
One of my responsibilities is overseeing food procurement and service at our school. Meals are a great time to build relationships with scholars, while also making sure food service is running smoothly.
To do this job — because it asks a lot of you — you need to be passionate about it and find purpose and joy in every day. This is arguably one of the hardest jobs I’ve had, much more demanding day-to-day than the military, apart from my deployment in Iraq. Shooting hoops with the kids reminds me what it’s all about.
When I started as a BOM, I was confident about handling the logistics of running a school, but I didn’t have any background working with kids or understanding how you manage them, especially if they are having a bad day. My principal really helped me to grow in this area, to understand how to be someone these kids can look up to and respect.
I set aside time each afternoon to catch up with my team. Today, we are reviewing logistics for an upcoming field trip. Every grade goes on two field studies a month and it's a major undertaking to ferry hundreds of students across the city and beyond every couple of weeks. Not only do we determine and book destinations — in consultation with teachers and school leaders — but we manage transportation, parent volunteers, and meals.
What I find cool is many of the characteristics needed to be successful in this role — being hyper-organized, having a sense of urgency, and strong people management skills — are transferable from my experiences in the military.
I get to talk and interact with a lot of different people each day from security staff to parents to facilities vendors. You learn to be a strong communicator and put scholars first.
Once the kids are gone, I usually catch up on emails and do a final walk through for the day, making sure our shared spaces are cleaned out.
This job is not doable if you don’t have something to help you decompress. I usually go to yoga or play my guitar when I get home. I even sing in a choir once a week just to recharge my battery. Tonight, our principal organized a ‘paint and sip’ happy hour.