UHR2017 – Being All Things To All People

UHR2017 – Being All Things To All People Author: Gin Bhandal Published: 24 May 2017

Berwick Partners recently sponsored the annual Universities HR conference in Newcastle. The HE sector took time out to recognise the crucial role people play in the breadth of posts seen across Universities, both academic and within professional services. The conference brought together delegates from all over the country (and world), all parts of the sector and importantly, all types of background. Having had time to absorb the insightful plenaries, keynote speeches and workshops, we can reflect back on what was a truly outstanding conference. So what did we learn from it all?

  • Leadership is not easy! The opening plenary was delivered by Professor Gareth Jones, former Director of HR at the BBC, amongst other accolades. Professor Jones gave a refreshingly honest account about the importance of leadership. His advice hit home with an engaged audience as we heard how leadership impacts performance. Critically Professor Jones outlined how to achieve your own leadership style; “be yourself more with skill”. 
  • During the various workshops, discussions ranged from the importance of diversity strategies through to the impact of the Higher Education and Research Act 2017. Sessions were well attended and generated stimulating debate. Of particular note was the consensus around how Universities must maintain a global focus but not to the detriment of their civic duties. 
  • Matt Elliott, People Director at Virgin Money gave an insightful account of his journey at the organisation post Northern Rock. Whilst there were several interesting anecdotes shared by Matt, perhaps the one which resonated most was around the importance of being positive and pro-active. Matt’s point was all the more interesting given the circumstances at Virgin Money meaning he had little time to pontificate and had to visibly take action and deliver. 
  • The incoming President of Universities UK and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Liverpool opened the second day of plenary talks with a passionate speech on how our Universities must continue to embed diversity as a core activity and not an add-on. Janet Beer has played a key role in promoting this throughout her career and it was encouraging to see the overwhelming agreement with her approach. 
  • The conference was closed with a passionate and heart-warming discussion in which we heard from one of Britain’s most successful athletes, Tanni Grey-Thompson on her battle to be accepted in society due to her disability. It was inspiring to learn of her sheer will-power and determination which has seen her rise to Baroness and Chancellor of Northumbria University. 

Year by year the conference grows stronger and with so much unprecedented change surrounding Higher Education, there will be countless opportunities for Higher Education staff to shape their organisations. Berwick Partners works with Universities to help appoint senior leaders across academic and professional services. We provide sector expertise in identifying talent to transform organisations. 

Gin Bhandal is a Principal Consultant in the Education Practice at Berwick Partners, he specialises in making senior appointments in professional services within Higher Education institutions.

Categories: Education Recruitment

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