Q&A with Mr Doug Holtam, incoming MCC College Principal

This week we thought it would be helpful to ask a few questions that might cross your mind when a new SCEA leader joins our team – particularly when that leader loves Liverpool Football Club, long hikes in nature and living large in Cyprus!

Tell us about your early years of life

“Born in Portsmouth on the south coast of England, I’ve always loved beach life and the fresh sea air. Melissa, my wife, and I moved to Australia with our four children twenty years ago. We all adore the climate, beautiful beaches, rainforests, mountains and the snow! We are so blessed to live in such a wonderful country!

Melissa and I met at Greenwich University, London, where we studied education. Our first conversation occurred in a dusty design technology workshop; Melissa was making some furniture, clutching a sizeable electric saw…very romantic! We settled in London, where our four children – now grown up and living in Melbourne – were born.”

 Years as a school student… 

“Physical Education was by far my favourite subject at school. I have always been passionate about sports, particularly soccer. The sports arena is a microcosm of life and has taught me much about leadership, discipline, and coping with failures and success. Art and creative subjects, including Design & Technology, were also engaging and enjoyable aspects of school life. I wasn’t particularly academic at school, but that came later in life. 

I was always inquisitive about how things worked, particularly anything mechanical. From a young age, and much to my parents’ annoyance, I used to pull my toys to pieces to see what made them function. Unfortunately, I was not good at reassembling things, and my dad would spend hours fixing up my broken explorations. This fascination with mechanics translated into a love of engineering.”

 Work-life begins 

“Engineering chose me as an initial career pathway; I enjoy practical problem-solving and developing systems and processes, so it was a natural fit. As an engineer working in a team, It was a lot of fun to be part of a group operating interdependently to overcome complex challenges. These experiences taught me about the synergetic power of teamwork. Over time, I became increasingly interested in the psychology of team motivation. This has formed a question in my educational research context – How do we build interdependent learning communities with the optimal capacity to serve the needs of our children?”

A critical moment in my life

A life-changing experience interrupted my engineering career; whilst holidaying on the French Riviera, I dived into shallow water and broke my neck in three places. The doctors said I was fortunate to survive or not to be a paraplegic. I was off work for six months and had a lot of time to think about what could have been had I not been so fortunate and what was I doing with this precious gift of life? It’s a long story, but it led me to leave my engineering career and return to university to study education. Over the next two years, I met many Christians who seemed to have the answers to the ‘big questions of life’. I began going to church and surrendered my life to Christ at a small church in London. Since that day, I have been engaged in a glorious adventure, with God leading the way.” 

What do you know about Mundaring Christian College (MCC), and what do you intend to do in your first year there?

“I visited both Mundaring campuses recently, and although the school had finished for the day, I met some of the staff, who were very welcoming and committed to their work. It was lovely to discern a sense of God’s peace across both the Primary and Secondary campuses.” 

“The Secondary Campus has enjoyed immense rapid growth and development. It is an impressive state-of-the-art facility providing students with wonderful opportunities to flourish. I also witnessed the high-energy after-school Basketball Programs in full flow and look forward to shooting a few hoops early in the new year.”

“The success of the school is a great testament to the faithfulness of God and to the vision, determination, and faith of everyone involved, from the SCEA Board, through to MCC’s Leadership and Staff Teams who have endured many challenges to make everything work across two campuses as the school has developed over the decades.” 

“All that I have seen and heard, in the short time I have had to get to know Mundaring Christian College, ‘speaks’ of the faith, hope, and love of a Christian community partnering with God and each other to empower and raise a generation of young people to live meaningful lives and contribute positively to community.”

Leadership changes….

“As I receive the baton of leadership from Mr Rod McNeill, who has faithfully led the Mundaring Christian College Community with distinction, I realise that I’m standing on the shoulders of many champions. Rod is chief of these, and I honour him for his many years of faithful service.” 

Working with SCEA staff at Mundaring Christian College (MCC)

“Everything works through relationships. During my first year at MCC, I intend to get to know people and make space for listening so that I can serve well and respond appropriately to the ongoing developmental needs of the College. Building a strong sense of community characterised by relational trust, interdependence, and mutual alignment with the College’s Mission will be a top priority from day one. I will also prioritise prayer in seeking God’s guidance and wisdom in all things.”

Principal Presence….

“It is important for the Principal to be highly visible and approachable to the community to remain grounded and across what is going on. Maintaining this approach across two campuses will be a challenge, particularly for my shoes, and I will wear out at least three pairs of footwear in 2024 as I get about and see everyone.”

When you’re not at school, what are your passions in life?

“Outside of leading Christian schools, physical exercise is one area of keen personal focus, including running, playing golf and soccer with friends. Premier League football is my top TV treat, especially if Liverpool are playing – and winning!” 

“Melissa and I enjoy the theatre and cinema together, as well as hiking through the wilds of the countryside. We hope to do more of this and even take up cycling in Perth after six years of boiling-hot Cairns, where you need to be careful outside with the heat.”

“Travelling is a joy. My favourite country so far, apart from Australia, is Cyprus.

I rate Israel, Moscow, and Germany as the most interesting places to visit. 

Next on the list of places to go are Ireland and Gibraltar.”


We look forward to welcoming Doug and Melissa to the Mundaring community in early 2024 !

In our final edition of SCEA News for 2023, we will be speaking to Mr Rod McNeill who will be finishing his time as College Principal at Mundaring Christian College (MCC) at the end of this year. Mr McNeill has made an extraordinary contribution to MCC since taking over as Principal more than ten years ago. We would like to take the time to honour him as he finishes this amazing season of his working life and reflect on the work that God has done through him during his time at SCEA.

Doug connected with the MCC staff via a Zoom call with current MCC Principal Mr Rod McNeill and SCEA Chief Executive Officer Dr Graeme Cross last week.
Doug and his wife Melissa in London, United Kingdom.
Doug and Melissa with his family.
(from left: Joseph, Grace, Bethany, Melissa, Doug, Jordan)

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