Introducing Mr Nick Wood – SCEA’s new Chief Operating Officer

In late 2023, after more than two years of planning and praying, SCEA’s Board and Senior Leadership Team (SLT) created the position of Chief Operating Officer (COO) for the SCEA Head Office.

With the organisation celebrating 5,000 students this week, it seems apt to be able to welcome Mr Nick Wood, who will be looking to further develop our capacity to be good stewards of our resources – a fundamental value in our role as Christians in our workplaces across SCEA.

Tell us about your early years of life…

I grew up in Auckland, New Zealand. My mother and father met in Los Angeles while working for the New Zealand Embassy. Once married, they decided to migrate to New Zealand, where my father was originally from. Our family (Mum, Dad, my younger brother, and myself) were very blessed to live in a home situated on a cliff overlooking the magnificent harbour in Auckland. 

Most of my early childhood was spent fishing, swimming, sailing, and exploring. My family relocated to Perth in 1987 to be closer to my mother’s family, and my parents wanted a change of scene.

Years as a school student… 

I became serious about my education after getting into trouble at school just before my family moved to Perth. Looking back, it was this experience that made me think carefully about whether I wanted to succeed at school, and I subsequently treated the gift of my education with the appreciation and regard it deserved.

I thank God for the wake-up call I experienced, and consequently, I knuckled down and worked during my high school years and managed to do well academically. My favourite school subjects were History, Human Biology and English Literature, and I still fondly remember many of my teachers from high school and recognise the profound impact they had on me.

Working life…

After graduating from the University of Western Australia (UWA) with a Bachelor of Commerce in 1995, I found myself (like many graduates) struggling to find work due to the economic recession in Australia. As an anecdote illustrating how serious things were, I distinctly recall the employment line for casual jobs at Sizzler in Innaloo literally stretching for hundreds of meters!! 

I eventually landed a job with K-Mart Australia as an Area Business Manager. During my short time there, I won a prize as a finalist in the national Young Retailer of the Year Awards. This opportunity led to a door being opened for me whereby I secured a job working for the Attorney General of Western Australia as a Policy Officer. Even more significantly than my next job, K-Mart is where I met my wonderful wife, Anna.  We were married in 1998 and now have five precious children: Sophia (21), Jonah (19), Jude (17), Gabriel (14) and Samuel (11). 

I worked with the Attorney General’s Office for nearly five years before moving to the Western Australian Local Government Association, initially in a Special Projects Manager role and then as Executive Manager of Corporate Services. My role was then expanded to incorporate Commercial Services, and I spent a fantastic 13 years at WALGA. 

In 2014, I joined the Telethon Kids Institute as their Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and became their Chief Operating Officer (COO) and CFO in 2016 until 2022.  I subsequently moved to Indigo Australasia (formally the Independent Living Centre of WA) to serve as their COO, working in aged care and disability services.

A critical moment in my life

I was blessed with a profound spiritual experience about five years ago whereby I felt a renewed call to walk closely with Jesus.  My life had become about a lot of things aside from God – my family, friends, work, and the busyness of daily living. 

God gave me a strong conviction about my divided heart and that Christ was not at the centre of my life. This led to a painful and protracted season of soul searching, seeking after God, and drawing near to him to allow my heart to be ‘renovated’. God has dealt with the many things in my life that were broken and I’ve experienced much healing and reconciliation. 

Most importantly, I’m increasingly becoming the husband and father that God has called me to be. While I’m very much still a ‘work in progress’, the trajectory of my life is now toward God.  I thank him every day for his love which is greater than the heavens are above the earth (Psalm 103:11), and his mercies that are new to me every day (Lamentations 3:22-23).   

What do you know about SCEA, and what do you intend to do in your first year there?

 Proverbs 16:9 says, “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord determines his steps”. I feel that this is true for my journey to SCEA. For a long time, I’ve wanted to align the professional gifts and abilities that God has given me with what my heart is most passionate about.

I’ve seen God leading me to this place and being blessed with joining SCEA at this time is an answer to persistence prayer and patience. One of the things that I appreciate about SCEA is that it’s an organisation with a critically important vision and mission. The opportunity to work in the service of this vision and mission, and to live and role model SCEA’s statement of faith and values, is something that I am strongly committed to.

Working with SCEA staff at the Head Office and in the Senior Leadership Team…

My plan for the first months at SCEA is to do a lot of listening and learning by engaging across the organisation and schools. One of the gifts God has blessed me with is the innate capacity to conceptualise and visualise the “how to” for organisations in terms of the strategies and systems needed to accomplish their mission and succeed on all levels.

SCEA has experienced enormous growth over the past five years and for most organisations, such rapid expansion puts pressure on technology, systems, and processes to the extent that they are no longer optimal or fit for purpose. Significant growth also creates challenges for corporate support teams that assist in delivering the organisation’s core business, which in the case of SCEA is its schools. 

I hope to work in partnership with all SCEA leaders to develop and implement tangible and measurable improvements to our support infrastructure, systems, and professional services to enable our schools to thrive.         

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

My main passions lie in my family and my church. As a husband and father of five children, much of my time is committed to family life. I am committed to having regular one-on-one time with each of my children to maintain strong relationships and be available to guide and help them. In my church, I’m active in leading our men’s group and am passionate about active discipleship that builds faith and helps people navigate life’s challenges.

Last year I started my Master of Counselling which I am studying part-time at Notre Dame University. My decision to go back to university comes after many years of providing support through my church to men of various age groups, during which time I’ve witnessed genuine healing and personal transformations.

In the biblical account of Lazarus in St John’s gospel, Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead. When Lazarus comes out from the tomb, he’s still wrapped in grave clothes and Jesus says something unusual to the crowd – he calls them to “unbind him and let him go…”  I see this as an analogy for the role of the counsellor – helping to set people free from the problems and struggles that act as bondages in their lives.  

Nick & Anna Wood and family.

We look forward to welcoming Nick to the SCEA team on 1 March 2024, which is coincidentally the day of the SCEA Commissioning Service.

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