Balancing change and tradition over two decades

As outgoing Director of Finance and Administration (DFA), John Jesson left behind a significant legacy of service to the School when he retired from Melbourne Grammar at the end of Term II, 2022.

“This School has always been wonderfully positive place to work, and so different to my previous roles in industry,” says John, who began working at our School in 1999 as Finance Manager. He was appointed as DFA at the start of 2011. “I look back and think: How lucky was I that I saw an ad in the paper for a role at this particular school?”

An eye on the bigger picture

In his DFA role, John has had direct involvement with our School Council, School governance, and oversight of the non-teaching functions that support our day-to-day operations. “The big picture for my role is to make sure the framework is in place to sustain our core focus of teaching and learning, and to make sure we don’t become complacent in any aspect of that intent,” he explains.

“One of the joys of my job has been its breadth, from working on operational projects to thinking about the strategic direction of the School,” John adds. “I’ll miss the people I’ve worked with, who have been a wonderful support, and I’ll miss coming to work in a place that has such a vibrancy and life to it.”

Balancing change with tradition

With characteristic humility, John says his 22 years of service is “a long way” from the 34 given by his predecessor, David Temple. Over that time, he says he has tried to look for opportunities to develop the School, while retaining its core characteristics.

“This School is an organisation that works so well,” he says. “I tried to improve things where I could without tearing the fabric, and I think it’s amazing the amount of change we’ve gone through while still preserving what makes us Melbourne Grammar.”

Reflecting on these changes, John points to more visible developments, such as the construction of the Geoff Handbury Science and Technology Hub, the upgrade of the kitchens and Luxton Dining Hall, as well as more behind-the-scenes work such as the implementation of new IT infrastructure, and overseeing significant aspects of COVID related operational activities.

John is also proud of the role he has played in steps that have been taken to foster closer working relationships between teaching and general staff, and further develop the collegial atmosphere across and between each campus.

And what does retirement hold for John? He is looking forward to returning to a long-held passion: restoring vintage radios. “I love the challenge of restoring old radios because you have to approach the task logically,” he says. “They all have their own quirks and their own rewards.”

John Jesson has ‘lived’ Melbourne Grammar for the past 22 years. His steadfast commitment to the School and its betterment has been unquestionable. John has Had an incredibly informed and clear-headed perspective on most School matters and I, for one, have found his wise advice incredibly valuable.

The School would not be in the strong position that it is today without John’s counsel, management, and dedication, and we should all be very grateful for this.

Andrew Michelmore AO, Chair of Council

I returned to the School as Headmaster in January 2020. A few weeks later the COVID-19 pandemic emerged and, apart from managing the normal school operations, we had to manage the rapidly changing nature of the pandemic. Working under enormous pressure, I was grateful for John’s wisdom, calmness, and work ethic, as well as his demonstrable care for our people.

I have greatly enjoyed my work with John and appreciate his amazing impact across a broad range of school operations including finance, risk, property, major projects, catering, and IT.

I have also enjoyed John’s quirky sense of humour which includes the capacity to laugh at himself.

I will miss John and wish him all the very best for his life beyond the bluestone.

Philip Grutzner, Headmaster

It has truly been an honour to work with John Jesson. His enormous intellect, organisational skills, attention to detail, recall and enthusiasm is without peer. John has been extraordinarily incisive and highly professional in all his activities albeit often in an understated manner.

He has made an immense contribution to the Foundation and its work over the years, and for this, together with his dedication to excellence, we offer our thanks.

Julian Smith, President of the Melbourne Grammar School Foundation

New appointment

Damian Ferguson commenced in the role of Director of Business & Finance in early July 2022. He brings an extensive background in leadership roles within schools.

Most recently, Damian held the position of Chief Financial Officer with Knox Grammar School, a K-12 boys’ school in Sydney with enrolments of 3000 day students, plus an additional 200 boarding students.

Damian is highly regarded within the education sector, not only for his many achievements, but also for his strong values, work ethic and professionalism.