Yiannis Koursis took over as acting principal and chief executive when his predecessor Chris Webb joined Bradford College earlier this year.
And as he settles into the role on a permanent basis, Yiannis told the Chronicle he sees himself as simply being passed the baton of leading the college, which is ‘bigger than all of us’.
“Someone described it to me as a new chapter, in the same book,” said Yiannis.
“I’m not new to the college and the staff, which is very important.
“Continuity for an organisation such as Barnsley College, which is already very good, is essential.
“Sometimes change needs a standing start, but all I’m doing is continuing the journey.”
Yiannis, 43, has been with the college since 2016 and worked closely with Chris during his own three years in charge.
“We had a great relationship,” he added. “He was very focused on driving the college forward, which is where we need to carry on.
“But we are two totally different people.
“Chris did an amazing job. He stabilised the college, embedding a vision and values.
“He’s a hard act to follow, but the key point is continuing his work and taking the baton from him.
“I see myself as a steward of the college. The college is bigger than all of us and it will continue to be so.
“I want to be an ambassador for the college and shout what we do from the rooftops, as well as continuing what Chris was good at which was running the college.”
Born in Greece, Yiannis arrived in Oxford in 1999 to further his studies, completing a bachelor’s degree in hotel management at Oxford Brookes University, before moving on to complete a teaching qualification.
He managed a number of hotels before his first job in education at West Suffolk College, as head of school in hospitality and commerce.
He then spent nearly five years at Hackney Community College, before becoming vice principal at Loughborough College and heading to Barnsley College in 2016.
While he now lives in Leicestershire with his family, Yiannis sees himself as part of the Barnsley community, taking up roles with the Chamber of Commerce and Barnsley Economic Partnership.
Yiannis said: “The college will be more engaged with the community, other stakeholders and groups.
“We want to remind people Barnsley College is also part of the local community.
“There’s a collective passion shared between institutions in Barnsley, with the council, Chronicle and college all wanting to improve perceptions of the town.”
Prior to his career in education, Yiannis had been a keen sportsman.
He became a yachtmaster at 17 years old, and used to sail with Greek Olympic gold medal winner Sofia Bekatorou - who led the Greek athletes out at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
“The college has kept me very occupied, but I still find the time to play a bit of golf,” he added.