Dr Helen Drennen is an internationally recognized educational leader in Australia. Starting as a teacher, Dr Drennen has served 15 years as Principal at Wesley College Melbourne, one of Australia’s leading co-educational schools, established and led Studio Schools of Australia as Chief Executive Officer since 2019 and received recognition in the Australia Day Honours list as a Member (AM) in the General Division of the Order of Australia in 2016. On 8 November 2020, she became Chair of the International Baccalaureate® (IB) Board of Governors.
Dr Drennen has had close ties to the International Baccalaureate (IB) throughout much of her career. During her tenure, Wesley College implemented the Primary Years Programme (PYP) and Middle Years Programme (MYP) in addition to the Diploma Programme (DP). She was the IB’s first Academic Director based in the Cardiff Global Centre, from 1997 to 2002. She then served as the IB’s Regional Director of Asia Pacific, based in Singapore, from 2002-2003. She also served on the IB Board of Governors for six years, from 2009-2015. Dr Drennen was the first female to be appointed Principal in the school’s 152-year history and was admired as a visionary leader who was driven by her conviction about the transformational power of education and learning.
In addition to her service on the IB’s Board of Governors, she has served as Trustee of the Shrine of Remembrance in Victoria from 2010-2018 and completed six years as a member of the governing Council of Monash University in Victoria in June 2019. In February 2020, she was invited to join the governing Council of James Cook University in Queensland.
Dr Drennen holds both a Bachelor of Arts (BA) and a Bachelor of Science (Honours) from Monash University and a PhD in Behavioural Biology from Australian National University. With a Diploma of Education from Melbourne University, she completed an Advanced Management Program from Harvard Business School. In 2010, Dr Drennen was made a Fellow of the Australian College of Educators (FACE) and became a Fellow of the Australian College of Educational Leaders (FACEL) in 2011.
Interview with Dr Helen Drennen AM, Chair of the IB Board of Governors
In a wide-ranging conversation, we spoke with Dr Helen Drennen AM about what motivates her, her experience in education, and her vision of the IB and education’s role in the future.