Introducing our CEO Samantha Rutter
April 24, 2020 / Libby Barrett
An inspiring role model not only to the team at Open Study College but to everyone in the education industry, our CEO Samantha Rutter is helping to transform and develop the distance learning sector.
Samantha took over as CEO of Open Study College in 2018 at the age of just 29! In a few years, she has made huge changes to the college to improve the lives of so many more people through introducing more choice, reaching out to new audiences and creating an easier way to improve career prospects for OSC students.
Samantha started the company alongside her father Mark Rutter back in 2007, but setting up a business wasn’t always her career intention. Samantha studied a BTEC in business before going on to study law. During her studies however, she realised that a law career wasn’t for her.
“I began by studying law at college before pursuing a career in retail. I initially planned to go into law as a profession, as I had been interested in that particular field from a young age. But as I studied, I realised that it wasn’t for me and I wanted to pursue something that would allow me to help others more.”
Samantha demonstrates that it really is okay to rethink your career prospects and goals if you strive for something more. You don’t always need to continue the path you are on if you’re not happy.
“In 2007, I craved greater professional autonomy, a more stimulating work environment and a career that allowed me to help others. So, when the opportunity presented itself, I went into business with my father, Mark Rutter, and co-founded OSC.”
Samantha had grown up being inspired by the concept of distance learning, her family had been in the industry for many years. This combined with the determination to help people change their lives and improve their career prospects enabled her to make Open Study College the success it is today.
“It wasn’t entirely planned that I would go into business with my dad, but when the opportunity arose, I didn’t shy away. My dad had lots of experience in the distance learning industry, but regularly talking about it we both felt there was a way to offer students so much more and improve their experience. So, we set out together to make OSC better than the rest.”
With Samantha’s commercial and business experience and Mark’s knowledge within the distance learning industry, they built a strong foundation for the college.
“Initially, we were happy to get one enrolment a day when we started, so back then we never expected to get to where we are now.”
Open Study College has now helped over 90,000 students with their studies and have over 600 courses on offer for students to change or improve their lives.
Throughout her time at the college Samantha has worked in every department. From packing courses to running operations, she understands the college, inside out.
“I have worked in many departments, which has really helped me to understand all areas of the company and lead it effectively as the CEO. Having worked my way up, I know every aspect of the business, which I believe is key when running a business. It’s difficult to collaborate with teams when you’ve never done it yourself.”
Samantha’s hard work and dedication to Open Study College has seen her win several awards including ‘Outstanding Business Person’, ‘E-Learning COO of the year ’ and ‘Best Distance Learning business leader UK’ and demonstrates just what an inspiration she is to so many of us.
‘I’m passionate about providing the best leadership possible by recognising that I have a great team around me who not only develop me personally, but also help Open Study College to attain its goals.’
Her father Mark Rutter has always been her main role model and mentor throughout her life.
‘My dad was, and still is, my mentor. He had worked in the distance learning industry before we started OSC, whereas I hadn’t. He was instrumental in helping me understand how to lead a business of this sort effectively. Like my father did, I make sure that I do my best to mentor my senior management team, so they can in turn, mentor their team members.’
Like many CEO’s Samantha has faced challenges, particularly with issues to her gender. Being a young female CEO is in itself a huge achievement. She’s taken these challenges in her stride and the awards recognise her place in industry.
‘The biggest challenge that I have faced during my career so far are some of the preconceptions people may have about me, due to my age and gender. That has been tough at times..’
‘Often being in meetings that are male dominated used to be intimidating. However, I strongly believe in our company ethos and our success is testament to that so once people realised that, I grew in confidence and I no longer feel intimidated in those situations. I have worked to prove myself as a businesswoman and CEO in my own right.’
‘My advice to those who are considering changing or improving their career is that if you want something – go for it. I never thought that one day I would be the CEO of a very successful company that gives so many people the tools to achieve their dreams every day and I certainly didn’t expect it before reaching 30! My school years weren’t that successful, and I had to work extra hard to make the grades to get on to my Law course. It really does show that with determination and perseverance you really can do anything. So don’t give up!’
Samantha is an inspiration to many in the industry and has already had a significant impact on expanding Open Study College, opening up opportunities to ensure people across the world have access to education.