INTERVIEW: Alan Hart, chief executive officer, Gem-A

Alan Hart

New Gem-A chief executive officer, Alan Hart, will be taking part in a ‘In Conversation With…’ seminar today (Sunday, Sept 4), 11-12.

Professional Jeweller caught up with Hart to find out what people can expect from the talk and what the future holds for Gem-A in his leadership…

What can visitors expect from ‘In a conversation with… Alan Hart?
I hope that visitors can learn more about who I am and about some of the ideas that we have for Gem-A.  I’d like to think we are moving forward with some exciting projects and welcome any feedback or comment with regard to that.

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What drew you to the position of Gem-A CEO?
I have been associated with Gem-A for many years — there has always been a very strong association between Gem-A and the Natural History Museum, where I was principle curator of Gems and Minerals and head of Earth Sciences Collections for over 30 years. When the position of CEO first came along I knew what a challenge it would be, but I relished the thought of leading Gem-A and pro-actively taking it forward — I found the prospect very exciting.  I studied Gem-A’s Gemmology and Diamond Diplomas and got to know many of the tutors and associates of the organisation, all of whom were very knowledgeable and professional. Many at the museum asked me what I could possibly learn by studying at Gem-A, but I actually learnt a huge amount that was invaluable to my career, and gained a broader spectrum of knowledge that really impressed me. I also liked the fact that by taking the courses I was sharing ideas with and studying alongside people that I may never have come across otherwise, and this made me think that within the broad spectrum of gemmology there are hugely overlapping industries, where we can all learn and mutually benefit from each other.

How have your first six weeks as Gem-A CEO been?
In a word, busy! It is actually a very complex institution for its size, but when you consider the number of students and range of courses and collaborations we are involved with I can see why. I hope that once the initial period of understanding the Gem-A landscape and how it works has passed that we can then start moving on by taking some major initiatives forward. I have also been very impressed with the staff, they have made me feel very welcome and I am excited about how we can move forward together.

What is your main priority in your new role at the Gem-A?
There are many priorities at the moment. Importantly, I want to ensure the financial stability of Gem-A is in place and that our resources are used in the right areas. I am also understanding how the staff fit and work together, assessing the main ideas on the table and ensuring that the standard of our world-class courses remains just that. I also would like to be more innovative in terms of delivery of work by moving to a project-based approach, where we can more easily define tranches of work that help us become more efficient and more effective. The staff are key at Gem-A and they are all very dedicated to their work, so part of my job is to ensure morale remains high and that we collectively work together by moving forward and remaining modern and vibrant, and through that celebrate our success alongside our students and members.

Could you share a glimpse of your plans for Gem-A?
It is early days for me but I have many thoughts and plans. In general I’d like to see our education expand to inspire ‘across the board’ learning in gemmology. With that I mean from schools right through to ‘citizen science’ — the public’s engagement with science. There are large parts of the public who may never consider a career based on gemmology and its associated industries, and I’d like to think we can really change that. With the development of new technologies we need to embrace innovation in online learning and user experience. Key for us is how we strategically target any new audiences and deliver our courses wider and further afield. I’d like to think we can get feedback from the industry in what they feel Gem-A can help them with so we can develop our courses to continue to deliver the qualifications that underpin their careers. Marketing and social media will be a big push for us — I want to provide a very solid offering to our members and build upon the fantastic community that already support us. We have just launched a new website; linked into that is a Gem-A Member community forum that I hope will grow into a real ‘go to’ place for questions about gems and anything associated with them. We have lots of ideas, the real key is fitting them all together into a strategic direction that allows us to flourish as well as help all those people we engage with. Watch this space!

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