The Route to Pro Vice-Chancellor Research

The Route to Pro Vice-Chancellor Research
Published: 17 September 2020

The role of the Pro Vice-Chancellor Research (PVC-R) is mission critical and core to the strategic priorities of any University, yet as Head Hunters we often hear concern from our clients about the pipeline of talent into this vital role. It is not surprising therefore to see that more than 30% of current PVC-Rs have been recruited into the position as an external appointment.

The combined Higher Education practice of Odgers Berndtson and Berwick Partners is a unified practice that covers the professional and academic career journeys of individuals in the Higher Education sector from middle and senior management through to executive leadership. By focusing our brands on these particular candidate pools, at different stages of their careers and seniority, we are highly knowledgeable about the skills, experiences and aptitudes of the up and coming talent for senior and executive leadership positions.

Because of our respective foci on the continuum that is an academic career pathway, we recognise that we are ideally situated to advise clients and candidates alike about the career trajectories, experiences and characteristics that are relevant for university executive leadership positions. It is important to us, as a practice and a business, to share this knowledge with the sector in order to contribute to an evolving dialogue about what ‘good’ looks like, and to challenge outdated models that have unwittingly erected barriers to more diverse candidate pools.

In order to compose this report, we collectively interviewed a representative sample of current UK-based PVC-Rs in early 2020 (pre COVID-19) across a range of mission groups and geographies. Questions focused on their career trajectories; the unique qualities of their portfolio; the role and importance of their own research careers in attaining and maintaining the PVC-R role; how their own academic profile (STEM vs non-STEM) has helped or hindered their ability to take on the role; and the experiences, skills and qualities that were of most importance in preparing them for the role (and useful for being effective in the role thereafter).

The report aims to share the knowledge we have gleaned from these interviews with other current Pro Vice-Chancellors Research interested in their peer group and in talent spotting their own replacements; with Directors of Human Resources interested in analysing the barriers or attractions to the PVC-R role; and crucially, with individuals at Head of Department, Head of School, Associate Dean and Dean levels who are interested in exploring how their own careers can be developed and positioned strongly for a future Pro Vice-Chancellor Research appointment.

Click here to download a full copy of the report.

For more information please contact Elizabeth James, Partner and head of the Education Practice at Berwick Partners, specialising in recruiting academic and professional services leadership appointments across the Higher Education sector.

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