AUA Autumn Conference 2020

Future HE Professionals

The Details

Location: Online via Zoom

Date: Tuesday, 24 November 2020

Timings: 10:00 to 14:40

Fees: Member £80+VAT | Non-member £160+VAT

About this year’s conference

Many new challenges have emerged over the last six month, however, we have seen a great number of successes, as everyone has shifted and adapted practice to a new way of working during very uncertain times.

Following the AUA’s research project on Future HE professionals earlier this year, we invite you to reflect further on this topical theme and join the conversation at the AUA Autumn Conference. Rachel Sandby Thomas, Registrar at the University of Warwick will open the conference and you can choose from a range of working sessions focusing on maintaining staff wellbeing, challenges of managing in hybrid and distant working environments, successfully executing change projects and maximising development opportunities available to you in the “new normal”. Join our panellists and pose your questions as we ask – HE Professionals: Fit for the Future?

Keynote speaker, kindly sponsored by Dixon Walter

Rachel Sandby-Thomas

Registrar, University of Warwick

Lessons from Covid-19
Personal reflection and observations on what we have learnt, both on a sectoral and individual level from dealing with the Covid crisis and what that means for us going forward

About Rachel

Rachel joined the University of Warwick as Registrar in September 2016 and is responsible for the Professional Services of the University.

Prior to this, Rachel was shadow CEO of the UK Government’s Institute for Apprenticeships and Director General in the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills for 8 years.

Rachel graduated from St. Catharine’s College, Cambridge with a double first class honours in Law.

Rachel sits on the Executive Board of AHUA, the AHUA’s Training and Development Committee and a Trustee of Ambitious Futures, The Whitehall & Industry Group and ‘Future-Fit’. Governor of both the Warwick College Group and the Royal Society of Arts Academies, Vice Chair of LEAP Confronting Conflict and a Companion of the CMI and on the Board of Companions.

Panel session, kindly sponsored by Dixon Walter

HE Professionals: Fit for the Future?

Following on from the AUA’s Future HE professionals research project earlier this year, looking into future trends of work and the potential impact for the HE sector, we invite you to join our panellists and pose your questions as we ask: HE Professionals: Fit for the Future?

Panel Chair

Amanda Oliver
Director of College Operations and AUA Chair
Brunel University London

Amanda’s career in education extends over 35 years in roles that span the breadth of professional services functions within a university; she is currently Director of College Operations at Brunel University London and prior to this was Head of Business Operations at Kingston University/St George’s, University of London. As an AUA Fellow and Chair of the Board of Trustees she brings extensive sector knowledge and experience. Amanda is Vice Chair of the AUA Board of Studies which has oversight for the quality and delivery of the PgCert and has been involved  with the  development of the programme since its inception.


Mariyana Bushara,
Organisational Development Advisor
University of Sussex

Mariyana is an experienced individual with 15 years of organisational experience. She has worked in a variety of roles including psychology, HR and Organisational Development, mainly in public sectors and not for profit organisations.

Her background is predominantly in mental health and psychology, doing one to one and group work, using CBT principles to help and empower clients to manage common mental health problems. Having worked with a diverse range of clients, Mariyana is able to deal with a wide range of topics, pull on different models in addition to CBT, such as Appreciative Inquiry, GROW and motivational interviewing. She adapts her style accordingly to meet the different needs of her clients.

Most recently she has worked in HR and Organisational development, dealing with the full employee cycle and got involved in numerous change projects using agile project management methodology.

She is passionate about introducing a unique and practical way of promoting mental wellbeing in the workplace. This consists of providing mental health awareness training that specifically uses CBT principles to introduce tools and techniques that will help individuals help themselves. She has presented in a number of conferences on topics such as ‘using Cognitive Behavioural therapy (CBT) for stress management’ and ‘Getting to know your communication style’. She possesses strong presentation and facilitation skills, with the ability to take a novel concept and adapt in a way that provokes and challenges thinking.

Susannah Marsden
Director of Student & Academic Services and Registrar
City, University of London

Susannah has developed a career in Higher Education, starting as a Course Officer through to the institutional leadership position she now holds. At City, she is a member of the Executive Committee and responsible for a portfolio of departments that cover the full range of academic administration and student services. She also leads the coordination of City’s Education & Student Strategy and chairs the institutional programme board that is modernising the way in which we operate our student administration. Susannah is an experienced trustee, has mentored colleagues on the AUA PgCert and the Advance HE Aurora Programme and is also an accredited mediator. 

Find Susannah on LinkedIn.

Stephen McAuliffe
Deputy Registrar
University of Nottingham

Stephen is Deputy Registrar at the University of Nottingham and Chair of ARC. Previous to this he was Academic Registrar at the University of Birmingham from 2016-2020, holding responsibilities across Registry, Student Services, Careers, International Academy, Academic Staff Development, Library and all administration in all Schools and Colleges of the University. He has a breadth of experience in TNE having lived and worked on secondment in Malaysia for the University of Nottingham as well as led functions in Dubai, China and Singapore. He started his career as president of a student union and has moved over 18 years to the position he now occupies. He has held roles as School Manager, Head of Student Services and Director of Careers. He enjoys cycling, fitness and the gym but eats too many sweets for it to pay dividends.

Tessa Harrison

Tessa left HE in January this year to join the executive search firm, GatenbySanderson, where she leads on HE recruitment and leadership development. During her 30 year career in HE, Tessa held senior executive level roles at King’s College London, Southampton University, UWE Bristol, Lancaster University and Anglia Polytechnic University. Tessa is a former Chair of AUA and a fellow of the Association. Tessa is a qualified executive coach and has been an assessor for the AUA’s PgCert.

Tessa led numerous change programmes in the universities within which she worked and, most recently, developed a blueprint for functionally aligned service design of education and student support services delivered in a complex, multi-campus research intensive university. She is regularly called upon to share her experiences of navigating a career in HE leadership and of being a senior woman leader.

Working sessions

Working session 1

101 Journeys through our profession and our changing landscape

Hugh Jones, Senior Consultant, Hugh Jones Consulting
Susannah Marsden, Director of Student & Academic Services and Registrar, City, University of London

Following our popular session on ‘defining the profession’ in Manchester at AUA2019, this session looks at the professional career journeys in student and academic administration/services (‘the profession’), and how requirements and skills are adapting in response to the changing environment, with a particular focus on the implications of the Covid-19 pandemic. By understanding the professional experiences of the last 6 months as well as what is being required of colleagues into 2020-21, we’ll develop understanding of the opportunities and challenges this presents for professional journeys.

By the end of the session delegates will be able to:

– have insight into a range of professional experiences, using examples from across the sector 

– understand more about where and how colleagues have adapted knowledge, skills and behaviours in their professional roles.  

– understand what knowledge, skills and behaviours they may need to develop to progress their own professional journey 

– have had an opportunity to reflect upon and articulate skills, knowledge and behaviours which they have developed since March 2020 and/or plan to implement in the coming months.

103 Supporting, developing and leading your staff: the management challenges of hybrid and distance

Kenton Lewis
Director and Principal Consultant
Kenton Lewis Associates

As Institutions and workforces navigate returning to work, and attempt to find the right balance of in-person, remote and hybrid models, it is critical to ensure a focus on longer term leadership, management, development and support of staff, especially following such an extended period of fire-fighting and crisis management.

This interactive discussion-based session will include a combination of evidence informed content and constructive challenge from the presenter. Delegates will be encouraged to share their experiences, ideas and concerns in break out groups, with whole group feedback. We will explore the range of options available to managers in engaging with their staff and their colleagues, and will provide space for individuals to reflect on their own active decision making. We cannot accurately predict how individual institutions, and the HE sector as a whole, will be operating in the new academic year, so the session will be flexible and responsive to contemporary developments. However, we can be confident in the fact that working patterns are changing; there will be an increase in hybrid working that will challenge previously accepted working norms. This session will be an exploration of how management as a skill has to adapt to the new normal, explicitly considering management skills of support, coaching, delegation and leadership.

By the end of the sessions delegate will be able to:

– reflect on the implications of new working patterns, and how this affects their approach to management.

– identify how to incorporate coaching approaches into their working practice, making tactical decisions on when and how to use these skills.

– identify and apply a range of approaches to staff support, and to apply a range of approaches to staff development – this will include engaging with staff empowerment.

102 Using Cognitive Behavioural therapy (CBT) principles to improve psychological wellbeing

Mariyana Bushara
Organisational Development Advisor
University of Sussex

CBT is based on the idea that the way we think, feel and behave are all interlinked. Understanding this model will give insight into improving emotional regulation and adopting helpful coping strategies. Come along to this interactive session and learn useful tools and practical techniques to enhance your psychological wellbeing.

The session will be interactive in nature, beginning with an introduction to the CBT model and benefits of using it. The delegates will then be divided into four groups representing the four components of the CBT model, thoughts, feelings, physical sensations and behaviours. They will be given a scenario to work through. We will then come back as a big group and talk about the four components and how this creates the vicious cycle of stress, anxiety or low mood. I will then introduce different tools and techniques to help individuals break the vicious cycle to create a more positive one. The focus of the session will be to help individuals help themselves. At the end of the session, the delegates will be given a summary leaflet outlining what was covered in the session.

By the end of the session delegates will be able to:

– better understand of the CBT model and it’s four components

– understand the benefits of using CBT principles to manage psychological wellbeing

– use some simple tools and techniques to enable them to break the vicious cycle and transform the way they think, feel and behave

Working session 2, kindly sponsored by Worktribe

201 The “new normal” for development: neither new nor normal!

Clive Betts
Head of People Development
University of Exeter

We are swamped with commentators and commercial providers telling us to train up and prepare for the “new normal” but I will argue that we need to consider very carefully what we are calling new and what we are expecting to be normal.

I will present some models and ideas that influence how people learn and their relevance to today’s world. I will invite small group discussions on some of the key areas that I believe are critical to allow people to work effectively in transformed University work environments. I will then ask the whole group to help me draw some conclusions about what people should now be doing to develop themselves in these new environments.

By the end of the session delegates will be able to:

– better understand how to effectively develop themselves and how this can help them meet the challenges of new ways of working

– recognise the best ways to develop themselves exploiting “new” ways of doing things

– influence what development opportunities are available to them, and how they are delivered

203 Shaping the Future: Leadership Capabilities in HE

Tessa Harrison, Partner – Education, GatenbySanderson
David Becker, Principal Consultant, SUMS Consulting

Taking the outcomes of the AUA’s Future HE Professional project as its starting point, this session will explore, how the outcomes from organisational change and transformation programmes demand a redefinition of leadership and management capabilities to meet the changing requirements of our institutions.

We will consider how sustainable transformation should impact the way you recruit staff and the means by which you evolve your approach to performance management. As well as covering the experience, knowledge and skills required by leaders, we’ll talk about the importance of attracting and retaining staff with the right mindset for building diverse and inclusive cultures. We will give you some ideas for your own role as a manager in HE to think through the workforce implications of change programmes you’re involved with.

This session will be relevant to colleagues working in all areas of HE administration and management.

By the end of the session delegates will be able to:

– translate the outcomes of change and transformation into redefining of roles and how to approach competency-based recruitment

– apply learning into practice

202 Predictably unpredictable – why we’re so bad at forecasting the future, and what we can do about

Tom West
Head of Operations
University of Liverpool

Large change projects rarely go exactly to plan, and the bigger they are, the more things can go wrong. As current circumstances have shown, we have a tendency to overestimate our ability to forecast the future, and underestimate our ability to adapt and respond to unforeseen change.

This session will draw on the experience of managing major change projects within an HE setting to outline the benefits of taking a collaborative, user-centred approach to planning and design. I will demonstrate why a failure to account for the ‘planning fallacy’ or the emotional and psychological impact of change is often at the root of failed change initiatives. Through a number of case studies we will explore why a truly inclusive design process, which actively seeks user engagement from start to finish, not only improves the final outcomes, but can help increase the resilience of projects to unexpected events which have the potential to derail them.

I will give examples of some of the real life lessons learned, to highlight both the short term challenges and long term benefits of taking a ‘co-design’ approach to projects.

By the end of the sessions delegates will:

– have a greater understanding of why change initiatives often fail

– be better equipped to plan projects and deal with unexpected events when they arise

– learn simple techniques to take an inclusive approach to project design

Dixon Walter is kindly sponsoring the AUA Autumn Conference plenary and panel sessions.

Dixon Walter is a Search and Selection firm devoted to the appointment of outstanding leaders. Driven by quality, results and attention to detail, they provide flexible, innovate and and bespoke services to support their senior client’s recruitment needs.

You can find more information about the organisation on the Dixon Walter website.

Worktribe is kindly sponsoring our second round of working sessions.

With over 150,000 users at leading universities across the UK, Worktribe is the ultimate platform for research and curriculum management.

Worktribe’s evolving, cloud-based software transforms higher education administration through better collaboration, more efficiency and more transparency. It’s intuitive, secure and easy to integrate.

Join the 38 universities who stand by Workribe’s approach of “configuration not customisation” and work together to make sure that your software empowers higher education teams now, and in the future.  

You can find more information about the organisation on the Worktribe website.

There are a number of sponsorship options available for our first ever online Autumn Conference to suit your budget and business aim. Whether your organisation is currently working in HE or looking to enter the HE sector, AUA events can help you to:

  • Increase your presence within the HE sector
  • Promote brand awareness to different institutions across the UK

Sponsorship Opportunties

Keynote session | SOLD

Panel session | SOLD

Working session one | Up to 50 delegates in each session

101 Journeys through our profession and our changing landscape
102 Using Cognitive Behavioural therapy (CBT) principles to improve psychological wellbeing
103 Supporting, developing and leading your staff: the management challenges of hybrid and distance

Working session two | SOLD

201 The “new normal” for development: neither new nor normal!
202 Predictably unpredictable – why we’re so bad at forecasting the future, and what we can do about
203 Shaping the Future: Leadership Capabilities in HE

Working session packages

Each working session has the following packages available:

– Slide advertisement | £100+VAT
– Logo on all slides | £75+VAT
– Both packages combined | £150+VAT

If you would like to reach the full delegation of up to 150 HE professionals, you can confirm all three sessions from working session one or two (based on a first come first served basis):

– Slide advertisement | £200+VAT
– Logo on all slides | £100+VAT
– Both packages combined | £250+VAT

Interested in becoming a sponsor?

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