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Meet Jay Colios, Senior Partnership Manager (EU)

Meet Jay Colios, Senior Partnership Manager (EU)
  • After early experiences in the music industry, Jay has spent 12 years in international education, leading sales and tech teams.
  • With experience working and living in several European countries, he has a deep understanding of the EU market.
  • He plans to “give equal attention” to every country in Europe and help institutions connect with vetted recruiters worldwide.  

After a colourful start to his working life, Jay Colios has established a long career in international education – including recently joining as Senior Partnership Manager. 

Originally from the UK, with a mother from Cyprus, and experience living and working in several European cities, Jay brings an in-depth understanding of the European market and the challenges EU institutions face. 

Now based in Lisbon, Portugal, he’s helping European institutions raise their global profiles and access new recruitment markets. He told us how.

What’s your role at

As Senior Partnership Manager (EU), I support European institutions – so that's mainland Europe and doesn't include Ireland or the UK. I work from Lisbon, which has this big tech start-up vibe – it's a very cool city.  

It’s a high-growth time for and the European market. For example, now that we've expanded into Latin America, having more study options in Spain and Portugal is really valuable. 

And, because Europe has a huge breadth of institutions, it’s a really important region for us. You can't have a platform like without having the breadth of choice that these European universities offer. 

I also look after partnerships with Adventus Drive, which gives EU institutions more global reach. For example, a polytechnic university in Germany may not have been high up the list for students looking for an MBA – but through Drive, they can advise an agency as to why they're an important part of their education decision. 

So, I think we're in a situation where we can now service EU customers a lot better, which is exciting. 

You’ve had a pretty diverse working life — how did your career begin?  

Well, I was meant to be a musician as I’m a drummer. I participated in music festivals and tour-managed bands across Europe. Then I got work experience at V2 Records – Richard Branson’s second record company – and my job there was to essentially pack up people's offices. It seemed to everyone like the music industry was over – there was this new thing called the internet!

I thought I can’t do this forever, so I moved to Berlin for a sales job. From there, I moved into international education, and I got a job with ICEF in 2010. 

What experiences have you had within international education?

The people within international or higher education are some of the friendliest people in the world. It's the best group of people to have a chat with. 

I’ve held some diverse roles in the industry. My first at ICEF was Business Development Manager. I advised institutions on where to focus their time and effort to achieve their recruitment goals and informed them of changes we saw in the market. Essentially, discussing what made sense for their business – that was the fun part of that. 

Later, I co-founded an international education marketing and logistics company, EduPack, based in Spain. We advised companies on their marketing, printed physical material for them, then stored that and shipped it around the world. It was a great little business but, unfortunately, we ended after COVID hit. 

You were Director of Technology at ICEF – what were some of the highlights in this role? 

Yes, I returned to ICEF and got the chance to work on some interesting projects as Director of Technology. For example, I came up with the idea for an application called ICEF Live Lists, which is a permanent, updated version of all the people you've ever met at events. 

And that tool still exists as I left it. In fact, I still use it now. Anyone that ever attends an ICEF event – that's thousands of universities a year – we all get access to that. So, I'm quite proud of that one.

How do you think the role of technology has changed within international education? 

It’s interesting that some things – like virtual events – have taken until COVID to be embraced. And it’s been interesting to watch the shift. For example, I joined virtual classroom ed-tech LearnCube as Sales Director in May 2020. When the pandemic started, the company went from 200,000 minutes of education in one month to 2 million minutes the next. 

But I think we know now that you need to strike the right balance between great tech and great people. It’s easy for companies to send lots of low-quality student applications – because you don't need people to do that. is proof that you need a physical company, with lots of people all around the world, as well as a great tech platform. That was what was required to get to the point we're at now, this kind of maturity.

What are your plans to help European institutions face their key recruitment challenges? 

For starters, I want to support our European institution partners and I really want to do a good job for every single one – I want to make sure I give them equal attention. Even if you’re in a smaller European country like Lichtenstein and you think I’m not going to connect with you – you’re wrong!

Our recruitment partners are super happy that they've got all these options around Europe – they need diversity in their portfolios. So, my role is to help European institutions access this global network of recruiters who are genuinely interested in what they’re offering. 

What I think we'll see over the next 12 or 18 months is that, as we bring on more institutions across Europe, we'll see European study destinations really get spoken about more and pushed more. A rising tide raises all ships – that’s the idea. 

So, I’m really looking forward to meeting people all over Europe. I may not be able to speak Greek or Spanish or Portuguese or German or Italian fluently – but I can at least say hello in those languages, so expect to hear from me soon!