Change Network Annual Open Forum 2022

Location: Woburn House, 20 – 24 Tavistock Square, London WC1H 9HQ

Fees: £100+VAT | Non member: £200+VAT

Date: Monday 10 October 2022

About this Event

The AUA’s Change network (formerly Managing Change in Higher Education) is hosting its Annual Open Forum for those AUA members (and non-members) interested in improving practice on managing change in higher education. There will be an opportunity to share good and bad practice, network, and consider how to work more collaboratively.

We are delighted to announce that for the first time since 2019, this year’s edition will take place in person at Woburn House in London.

Who is it for?

For professionals who manage, or aspire to manage projects and change as part of your role, or for managers and leaders who are managing teams/departments currently going through change, and professionals experiencing change in the workplace.

Learning outcomes

  • Understand the importance of change management in project management
  • Practical ideas and techniques for supporting people through significant cultural change
  • Managing expectations
  • New strategies for managing change

Details in brief

Location: Woburn House, London

Date: Monday 10 October 2022

Time: 10:00 – 15:30

Fees: £100+VAT | Non member: £200+VAT


As with previous Open Forums the programme has been designed to improve professional practice in the sector and provide an opportunity for colleagues to learn from practice.

The programme with running order and timings can be accessed here. Details of sessions and speakers can be found below.

Lucy Donaldson

Associate Pro-Vice Chancellor for the Researcher Academy and Researcher Career Development, and Professor of Sensory Physiology – University of Nottingham

Opening keynote

I am Professor of Sensory Physiology and Associate Pro-Vice Chancellor for the Researcher Academy and Researcher Career Development at the University of Nottingham. As APVC I have been involved in more change programmes than I care to count, and lead several strands of our research strategy 2022-27, all of which will involve considerable change.

On reflection, I have contributed to and effected change in multiple areas over many years. I have worked with the Home Office for many years in a stakeholder group, aiming to improve processes around the use of experimental animals in research. Compared to working with Government departments, the work I’ve been involved with in effecting change in universities has seemed simple. Early in my career I was involved in the process of identifying, recommending and implementing change in two large business units – Student Services, looking after all student interactions and process in the university, and the Graduate School, which delivers professional development, and supports all researchers in the university. Both of these programmes presented challenges in involving the right people, effectively communicating fundamental changes to thousands of people, and with resistance to change. As a result of the Graduate School review, we implemented a complete name change, new roles linked to different parts of the university to build networks, and clarified remit. One recommendation from the review was for significant change in our processes underpinning postgraduate research degree studies, which has led to a large change programme. In this we’ve used Lean approaches including Rapid Improvement Events to effect change at scale and pace – enabling us to implement significant improvements over two years.

Recently I was invited to join the Intersectional and Comparative Advancement of Racial Equity for Social Justice (iCARE4Justice) Summer Summit, probably the most challenging and exciting change programme I’ve been involved with. iCARE is a global network of scholars from the UK, USA and The Netherlands, who aim to produce a global strategy and framework to improve equity for racially and ethnically minoritized communities, and whose work will run over the next 2 years.

In my copious free time, I paint and create, practice yoga, run a wine tasting group with my husband and try vainly to keep the garden, two young adult children and two mad dogs under control.

John Hogg

Director of Continuous Improvement – University of Strathclyde

Closing keynote

A leader, coach, mentor and trainer with extensive experience of operating at an executive level and developing, leading and managing successful teams in the Higher Education sector. Also experienced in strategy development, alignment of operational delivery and leading complex organisational-wide transformational change and continuous improvement projects, delivering significant quantifiable benefits. John operates at a national and international level in the field of continuous improvement, leadership development and benefits management. John is currently Chair of Lean in Higher Education Europe and is a member of the Lean HE Global Steering Group. John is also a non-executive board member at Glasgow Kelvin College and is also currently Chair of the College’s Audit & Risk Committee.

Working session one – pick one of the following sessions to attend

Replacing a Student Information System in Higher Education is a significant challenge for any institution. In this session we will describe our approach to stakeholder engagement and communications for the SIS project at Sussex, share tips on what has worked well and been positively received by stakeholders, and encourage participants to share their own examples of good practice.

Learning outcomes
• understand the significance of good stakeholder engagement and communications
• explore the likely impacts of poor stakeholder engagement on project success
• take away examples of good practice from across the sector

CPD behaviours
• Achieving results
• Embracing change
• Finding solutions
• Working together

Jo Corbett, DSE Assistant Director (Student Systems and Projects), University of Sussex

I have worked in higher education administration for over 20 years, starting as a Programme Administrator. I joined the University of Sussex in my current role in November 2021 after 10 years leading Registry teams at the University of Brighton, and before that worked in health education in a joint medical school and a specialist nursing institution.

I completed an MBA in Higher Education Management in 2006, and a PGCert in Change Management in 2016 after developing a specific interest in this discipline. I have led and worked on a number of change projects over the years including IT implementation projects, service redesign, business process change and organisational restructures including a merger.

My experience on these projects demonstrates the importance placed on stakeholder engagement and communications is critical to their success. I also have a particular interest in empowering staff to take control of their professional development and access opportunities using structured frameworks and have been involved in institution-wide projects in this area. I am a Fellow of the AUA.

Also speaking as part of this session will be Sarah Kirkbright – Senior Business Architect and Angela O’Neill – Head of Change Communications, both from the University of Sussex

Whether you are instigating change or responding to it within your organisation, your approach can be strengthened through harnessing the power of informal or formal networks. Professional networks may already exist, or you may need to develop new ones, but drawing on a wider set of colleagues and their insights and experiences will help everyone to meet the challenges of change more productively.

When organisational change is forced upon us, working with colleagues to develop coping strategies or counter-proposals can energise individuals who may otherwise feel despondent or disenfranchised. When influencing or instigating organisational change from within, this is more likely to be successful if other key colleagues from across the organisation buy into it and become part of the solution. Networks are powerful resources at all times, but especially so when you’re involved in organisational change: they can be the voice of reason, a sounding board, or group therapy, and sometimes all three at the same time. In this session Thea will share her extensive experience and insights of engaging with and establishing professional networks, through case studies and examples from her work in three universities over two decades.

Learning outcomes
• Recognise the contribution professional networks can make in handling organisational change, from an individual as well as an organisational perspective
• Understand how to use networks or set up networks to draw on and develop professional best practice, professional credibility and the wider sector context in addressing organisational change, as well as the organisational politics involved in doing so
• Feel more confident in engaging with existing professional networks and in establishing your own networks to meet your needs when facing organisational change

CPD Behaviours
• Embracing change
• Engaging with the wider context
• Working together

Thea Gibbs, Director of Operations, Faculty of Laws, University College London

Thea Gibbs has over 18 years’ HE sector experience in strategic and operational management roles, and is currently Director of Operations at UCL’s Faculty of Laws, leading Faculty operations as well as supporting institutional initiatives. Prior to her current role, Thea was Director of Operations of a large research centre at Coventry University, and has held a series of leadership positions at the University of Warwick in the School of Law, School of Engineering, Careers Service and Strategy and Change Team.

Prior to developing her career in university administration, Thea worked in the commercial sector. With a professional background in information management, she worked as a Law Librarian in a City law firm and as a Business Researcher in a large venture capital firm. Thea completed a PhD in Strategy and Applied Management in 2019, examining the work relationships of university professional services staff and how these influence the quality of services they provide.

The session will cover the collaborative work between two large Professional Services Units (PSUs) at Cranfield University, the Student Experience PSU and Educations Services PSU. In late 2019, work started to promote the understanding amongst staff of their role in the provision of excellent customer service.

With a diverse range of staff across twelve departments, the focus was to embed a consistent customer centric approach. However, this work then halted due to lockdown and the need to focus on the ‘here and now.’ In early 2021, the work kicked off again but things had changed. Staff approach had altered in many ways, customer centric service had become enhanced, it had itself evolved through the challenges of 2020. This was exciting! Therefore the next question was how could the gain from this be maximised, sustained and even further enhanced. Next came a series of sharing sessions, alongside the L&D team, encouraging inter-department sharing and honesty. What had been learnt? What could be lost? How had our understanding of each other and the customer evolved? The information gathered was rich, insightful, enlightening and full of hope. The focus is now in ensuring we do not lose what the lockdowns allowed us to gain.

Learning outcomes
By the end of the session delegates will;
• Understand methods to encourage open discussion across departments
• Promotion of development opportunities across staff
• Gain insight into customer centric approaches
• Understanding of the importance that staff experience has on student experience
• How to give staff of all levels the opportunity to input into future approaches and training
• Ways to distinguish the short term gains and the long terms plans that should complement these

CPD Behaviours
• Delivering excellent service
• Developing self and others
• Working together

Alison Whaley – Director of Student Experience, Cranfield University

I have been in higher education for 14 years, with a consistent focus on administration, management, student experience, customer journey and quality of service. I also have a expertise in ethics. I am passionate about ensuring students gain the qualification they are aiming for, in an inclusive and supported environment.

I studied BSc in Sociology at LSE and spent a couple of years working in different sectors. After an administrative role opened up at Cranfield it was clear that the HE Sector was full of interest and opportunity. After 5 years at Cranfield I studied for the a PgCert with AUA, which offered a great opportunity to build more specialised knowledge and understanding in higher education policy and practice.

I am currently Director of Student Experience at Cranfield University, to which I was appointed in January 2018. I lead on student engagement and student voice activities, and oversee the running of nine departments, all with a student and educational focus. There are approximately 120 staff within my professional service department, so have significant responsibility for budgets, human resource issues and regulatory compliance. I am committed to enhancing the experience of students and this can helped by having a happy and motivating environment for University staff, which is at the core of my approach to leadership.

Rebecca Smyth – Senior Assistant Registrar, Cranfield University

I started my career at Cranfield as a course administrator and PA. I quickly gained an enthusiasm for higher education and developed my skills and knowledge to align myself with the opportunities and progression ahead. An out of college job, became a career for me. I progressed through various customer service focussed roles at the University, supporting academics, students and external visitors along the way. I managed the Registry team for a number of years, and this really brought a whole new perspective to the University and the HE sector for me. This helped broaden my skills and knowledge at a sector level.

I am now a Senior Assistant Registrar at Cranfield and Head of Academic Administration which includes taught, research, short course and apprenticeships across 6 teams. I am very passionate about people and their involvement in change, customer service, process engineering and efficiency. I try to bring each of these passions into everything I do in my day to day role and strategic planning.

Working session two – pick one of the following sessions to attend

In this interactive workshop delegates will be introduced to action mapping as a creative change management tool. Action mapping allows for the planning and alignment of activity to Key Performance Indicators and can give a strategic overview of how team members can learn and progress in line with those indicators.

In the session you will create an action map that can help you to develop your staff through change. Please have a specific key performance indicator in mind before you attend the session!

Learning outcomes
• Produce an Action Map to support the achievement of a Key Performance Indicator.
• Develop an understanding of aligning change and training activity to key performance indicators.
• Take away a practical plan for developing staff through change.

CPD Behaviours
• Achieving results
• Developing self and others
• Finding solutions
• Using resources effectively

John Brindle – Educational Developer, University of Liverpool

John is an Educational Developer in the Centre for Innovation in Education at the University of Liverpool. Prior to joining the team he worked in curriculum design, corporate learning design and as a teacher. He is a keen advocate of creative methodologies for educational change since working on educational futures and Professor Gilly Salmon’s “Carpe Diem” methodology. He is currently studying for a PhD where he intends to explore third space professionals, technology and equitable practice.

This session will give attendees an insight into the Technical Review undertaken in the Faculty of Science and Engineering where c.400 technical and experimental staff were in scope of the change. The session will articulate the co-creative approach we took, the significant stakeholder engagement we embarked upon and the focus on training and development that will enable our technical workforce to receive the recognition, visibility, identity and support they deserve (aligned to the key principles of the Technician Commitment.) Our account will give an honest insight into the challenges we faced and the lessons we learned as we moved through the different cohorts of the review and the impact of the pandemic such as the move to blended learning. We will also share with you the successes we have seen to date and the opportunities afforded to us through our new £450M Engineering and Materials building.

Our vision was to build a sector-leading technical service for the Faculty. The concept to deliver our vision was to move from the departmental/School and institute focused technical workforces to five functional Service Groups: Research; Teaching; Workshops; Infrastructure and Facilities; and; Computing and AI. You will hear more about the six central strategies defined the operational approach for FSE technical services integrated into three core areas of service, workforce and highly skilled staff.

Learning outcomes
Have a good understanding of the technical change programme being delivered in the Faculty of Science and Engineering and have insights into the co-creative approach taken, the challenges faced and lessons learned and the successes seen to date.

CPD Behaviours
• Delivering excellent service
• Embracing change
• Working together

Sarah Mulholland, Head of School Operations (Engineering), University of Manchester

Sarah has extensive experience of working in the Higher Education Sector where she has worked for over 25 years and has held senior management roles for the last 10 years. Prior to joining the University of Manchester in 2014, Sarah has worked in a variety of professional services roles across the sector including the University of Salford, LSE, City University and Regents College.

Sarah was appointed to the role of Head of School Operations (Engineering) in 2019 with responsibility for overall leadership, management and direction of the professional services across the School. The School is one of the largest in the University with c. 6000 students, c. 220 professional services staff and c. 630 academic and research staff.

As a member of the Faculty Professional Services Leadership team, Sarah works collaboratively with professional services colleagues at all levels to drive strategic objectives, and manage and deliver quality services, for students and staff. A key part of the role is working in partnership with the Vice-Dean and Head of School to develop and deliver the School strategy and ensure that academic and professional services priorities are aligned.

Samantha Ryder, Head of School Operations (Natural Sciences), University of Manchester

Sam joined the University of Manchester 29 years ago following a career in sales and business management in the private sector.

She has held numerous senior management roles at the University including Head of the Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences Research Office, Head of Research Operations for the Manchester Academic Health Science Centre and Head of Operations and Business Engagement. Sam has been pivotal to the development and delivery of pan-Manchester strategies including the establishment and designation of the seven-partner Manchester Academic Health Science Centre. She has led change management teams working at the University’s interface with its six NHS partners, successfully breaking down organisational boundaries and harmonising cross-organisational policy and procedure. Working with NGOs, academic key opinion leaders and industry she has developed and implemented a governance framework and raised external funding to establish a global collaboration endorsed by the WHO.

In 2019, Sam was appointed as Head of School Operations (Natural Sciences) with responsibility for the leadership, management and strategic direction of professional services within the School. The School is large, diverse, and research intensive. It comprises 6500 students, 349 professional services and 907 academic and research staff.

In partnership with the Vice Dean and Head of School, Sam works to develop and deliver the School strategy. She champions a collaborative culture, ensuring professional services priorities are aligned to support strategic objectives and to deliver quality services.

In 2021, UCL embarked on a project to improve its education administration operations in order to deliver a better student and staff experience. Working across all 11 Faculties, we delivered a conceptual new operating model for education administration and student experience, underpinned by key design principles supported by all Faculties.

This session examines how UCL’s Faculty of Population Health Sciences has worked over the past academic year to validate this conceptual model through a ‘pathfinder’ implementation, and the factors that have been critical for success.

It will discuss how we are working to embed an iterative, collaborative and sustainable approach to change that has moved from institution-level consensus building, through development and validation within one Faculty, and back out to build a platform for wider Faculty rollout.

Learning outcomes
• Gain an understanding of how design principles and a conceptual operating model were translated into practice at UCL;
• Engage in a group discussion on the factors that were critical to successful change within the pathfinder Faculty;
• Identify how this approach to change may create insights for application in their own organisation.

CPD Behaviours
• Achieving results
• Embracing change
• Engaging with the wider context

Lead speaker

Derfel Owen – Director of Change and Improvement, University College London


Tansy Jones – Director of Operations, Faculty of Population Health Sciences, University College London

Tansy has been working in the university sector for the last 10 years, starting in a policy and projects role at the Institute of Education (IOE) in 2012 and joining UCL when the two organisations merged in 2014. Her previous posts at UCL have included working as Governance and Operations Manager at the IOE until 2017 and then as institute Manager at Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health for three years until February 2021.

Before settling on a career in university administration, Tansy held a number of roles in other fields including working as a publicist for children’s authors at Random House, managing arts education programmes at the Arts Council and working as a Primary School teacher and leader. She has also previously worked as a Community School Governor for a secondary school in North London. She has found this broad and varied background helpful in developing her approach to leading large operational teams at UCL, where creative and pragmatic decision making often includes being open to new or different ways of delivering activities.

Tansy has a collaborative leadership style with her teams. She is keen to work with them to develop a continuous improvement approach to the way that activities are delivered in her faculty and knows involving them in designing change programmes with her gives them the greatest chance of success.

Tansy lives in East London with her two children, aged 9 and 12, and loves exploring all of the best theatre, arts and sports opportunities that the city has to offer with them.

Anna Verhamme – Consultant, HEdSpace Consulting Ltd

Together with Nick Dalton and Natalie Snodgrass, I set-up HEdSpace Consulting in 2020. Our 45 years of collective experience in Higher Education has taught us a lot about change in HE. We have seen and experienced the good, the bad and the ugly! We are now using our first-hand understanding of how universities operate to support them to make sustainable changes with people at the heart.

I have over twenty years’ experience supporting higher education both as a leader of University-wide specialist functions and of Academic Departments. I have been Director of Strategic Planning and Governance at Cardiff University, where I supported the governing body and the executive leadership team. I have been College Registrar of the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at Cardiff and College Registrar of the University of Exeter Business School, where in both roles I worked in partnership with academic leaders to develop the University’s core activities of teaching and research.

I have strategically realigned central professional services, led a University transition from a School to College structure, developed and reshaped professional services in academic departments, and delivered digital transformation in online services and management information services. I developed the case for investment in the University of Exeter Business School, which led to a £25m capital development project.

I like to work with fearless leaders, who value time to think, are not afraid to fail and learn, and want to make a difference.

Leigh Kilpert – Head of Education and Student Experience, Faculty of Population Health Sciences, University College London

[back to top]

Got a question?

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.