EventBooking > Event Details


Showcasing Good Practice - London

Date: 29th November 2019

Location: Eversheds Sutherland, 1 Wood Street, London, EC2V 7WS

Bookings have now closed - please contact bookings@uhr.ac.uk for more information

Friday 29th November 2019 - London

Showcasing Good Practice is UHR’s annual celebration of our award winners. Come and hear the award winners deliver plenaries outlining the details of their projects. Runners up will deliver a series of seminars so that delegates can learn from the successes of other institutions.

Limited to 70 places and free to attend this UHR regular session is too good to miss.

09.45 - 10.15am

Coffee, registration, sign up for seminars, and networking

10.15 - 10.20am

Welcome & opening

10.20 - 10.55am

Plenary 1

Business Effectiveness and Organisational Performance

University of Lancaster

10.55 - 11.30am

Plenary 2

Equality and Diversity

Queens University, Belfast

11.30 – 11.50am

Refreshments & networking

11.50 – 12.10pm

Learning from the United States

‘CUPA bursary and study visit key lessons’

Rhona Bain, Edinburgh Napier University, via Skype

12.10 – 12.40pm


(Bradford, Northampton, Leeds Beckett, QUB, Cardiff, Edinburgh Napier, Exeter)

12.45 – 1.15pm

Seminars repeated

(Bradford, QUB, Cardiff, Surrey, Keele, Westminster, Edinburgh Napier)

1.15 -2.00pm

Lunch & networking

2.00 - 2.30pm

Seminars repeated

(Northampton, Surrey, Keele, Westminster, Leeds Beckett, Exeter)

2.35 – 3.10pm

Plenary 3

Organisational Development and Culture Change

University College London

3.10 - 3.45pm

Plenary 4

Exceptional HR

Imperial College

3.45 - 3.50pm

Summary and close

Full Programme Details:

UHR Awards for Excellence in HR

A key UHR aim is to enable HR innovation and learning from each other, and to build our professional skills base: these awards give a great opportunity to do this and to highlight creativity and success. We want to show the sector and the HR professionals beyond HE that our HR practitioners introduce cutting edge and impactful practices which enhance organisational culture and performance within UK universities.

UHR Award for Business Effectiveness and Organisational Performance

Plenary: Lancaster University: The 50th Anniversary Lectureship Scheme.

Paul Bousted and Annette Robinson

Lancaster University had already enjoyed many accolades, and the calibre of teaching/research over the last 50 years enabled a steady climb up the league tables. The 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) confirmed Lancaster as a world-leading research university, and as one of eight most research intensive universities in the North of England with 83% of research rated as either internationally excellent or world leading, with research partnerships in over 60 countries.

The University’s ambition was to both future proof and build on its success through the next generation of academics. To achieve this a talent management pipeline (The 50th Anniversary Lectureship scheme) was created that cemented the aims of the University’s 2020 vision, to attract, develop and retain the best staff.

The 50th Anniversary Lectureship scheme emerged as an initiative to attract, develop and retain a cohort of high potential, early career researchers. Over the 5-year period of the scheme, the role-holders would develop their research portfolios and achieve fast-track academic promotion, assisting the University in not only raising profitability/research status, but also that the next generation of world leading Academics would emerge.

UHR Award for Equality and Diversity

Plenary: Queen’s University, Belfast: Beyond the binaries

Connor Curran

This was an innovative and unique project involving collaboration between trans, non-binary and cisgender staff, students and community organisations at Queen’s University, Belfast.

Having introduced a new Transgender Equality Policy and training offering for all its staff, the University, Students Union and external community groups from the Belfast Resource Centre developed a week-long programme of events entitled “Beyond the Binaries”. Focussed on showcasing the talents of trans students and staff at QUB, the programme featured an art exhibition; choral performances; a comedy night; musical performances; and practical workshops on transgender rights in the workplace and “budgeting on a shoe-string” – empowering trans students and staff to be more visible, confident that they were being supported by the University.

This work has led to greater awareness and acceptance of trans and non-binary staff and students at the university, having been supported by the Senior Management and civic leaders such as Belfast’s Lord Mayor. The impact of the work is still being felt in a positive way with 4 Transgender Awareness staff training sessions delivered each year (2017-2019), all of which are delivered by Dr Ellen Murray, a former student at the University, transgender woman, and highly respected policy advocate who is based in Belfast.

UHR Award for Organisational Development and Culture Change

Plenary: University College, London: Communities of Practice

Daniela Bultoc

Communities of Practice (CoP) at UCL unite staff working in similar areas and functions in order to help members develop professionally, improve their practice and services and maximise career opportunities. They provide staff with opportunities to learn from each other by sharing knowledge and expertise, by working together on self-selected projects, and by co-creating an end-to-end view of their service and a vision of excellence. Each CoP is supported by a Senior Sponsor who provides top-level recognition, championing and strategic alignment.

CoPs at UCL have proved to be an empowering grass-root model of change and service improvement that engages staff in leading the change themselves and connects colleagues across the organisation. CoPs enable cross-collaboration and developments across the institution, as they bring together professional service staff from both central functions and local academic areas. They encourage cultural change to the way staff work in a dispersed organisation, so moving away from silos to sharing knowledge and resources, to solving shared problems and using collective knowledge to co-create and continuously improve their practice.

We currently have over 1,000 CoP members and over 40 CoP-led projects across the institution. There are nice CoPs across four professional service areas and the goal is to set up CoPs across all major service areas at UCL. Some of the latest CoPs, have brought together both professional service staff and academic staff. We envisage that CoPs will build more synergies between these groups, encourage-cross collaboration and create more value by working closer together.

UHR Award for Exceptional HR – our HR Team of the Year

Plenary: Imperial College

Louise Lindsay

In the past, Imperial College had a reputation of being a tough place to work. The College’s 2015-2020 strategy set out to challenge this perception and to ensure that staff felt supported and valued even in a highly competitive external environment. The HR team recognised that change would not be felt unless all the community came together to improve the culture and behaviours and to support each other. They also recognised that the changes needed to be driven from all areas of HR. A range of initiatives were therefore developed in conjunction with the staff community. This approach was highly successful, and the College now has volunteers from all departments and all grades supporting colleagues in accessing services, coaching, mentoring, mental health awareness, career progression and social activities.  

The HR team at Imperial have also improved consultation and engagement with the wider College community. This has included education and feedback during local pay bargaining that has changed the pay and benefits offer and supports lower paid staff. The HR team have demonstrated successful collaboration and engagement with change programmes for their own restructure and also by developing and supporting wider continuous improvement champions for change across the organisation.

Imperial College is still a demanding place to work but there is now evidence of a successful HR partnership on the people agenda working with the wider community on a shared agenda of collaboration and mutual support to improve the working lives and experiences for staff at Imperial College.


University of Bradford: The Bradford Excellence Programme – Ira Jeffers

Following an urgent need to ensure the University was able to deliver the strategy - including a need to improve infrastructure, professionalise services, review academic portfolios and create more opportunities for income generation - the business needed to respond to a decline in student numbers quickly and with agility to ensure future viability.

The University developed a large-scale organisational change initiative named the Bradford Excellence Programme (BEP). BEP aimed to reposition and achieve the University’s ambitious 10-year vision to become a world leading technology university.

In order to continue to embed BEP and build on our previous success of the Bradford Leader Programme the University has recognised that utilising the apprenticeship levy will support our strategic endeavours by equipping our staff to have the right skills at the right time, increasing performance, engagement and morale.

The University has achieved this through three distinct pathways; identifying roles across the institution to recruit apprentices; individually identified professional or career development apprenticeships; and organisational wide skills gap in leadership and management.

Through this approach they have created a sustainable future pipeline of talent across the University in a range of disciplines.

Forging a new long- term partnership the university has committed to the Employer Pledge with Bradford College, to champion the Governments agenda for new skills and jobs through providing apprenticeships, work placements and mentoring opportunities for our community.

Leeds Beckett University: Fierce Conversations. Sue O’Boyle

Co-creating a culture of open and honest Conversational Leadership in our Academic Community is an on-going aim at Leeds Beckett and is viewed as being key to the longer-term success of the University. Offering all Heads of Subject these highly interactive training sessions, and ongoing tailored support, have been the first steps in this process. They in turn welcomed the opportunity to develop their communication and leadership skills and have been invaluable in helping the University implement a new school structure to achieve its longer-term strategic goals. The Heads of Subject have role-modelled this approach to their academic teams and this will ultimately have a positive impact on our student experience. The community of practice they have formed has created a more collaborative culture and the university now have a common language of successful communication.

University of Northampton: Campus Relocation. Frank Jordan

This was a large-scale, multi-dimensional transformational change project involving the relocation of the entire University to a new purpose built £330 million campus in the town centre. This was in addition to a change to our teaching approach and ways of working for staff; and delivering a new student and staff experience. These changes, incorporating such a broad scope of issues and happening simultaneously, were challenging.

The relocation meant a significant change in organisational structure was required to ensure delivery could be achieved effectively and with minimal disruptive impact on the student experience.

The new work locations meant there would no longer be individual offices for any staff including those at senior levels, and for the majority, they would not have a specific desk for themselves either. Instead, an open-plan, agile working environment was introduced where staff would have the opportunity to work in multiple areas depending on the task in hand. It was recognised that this would mean a significant change in culture, in addition to the fact that all staff would have to be trained and to get used to the new ways of working and the use of new devices and communications tools.

Before the restructuring, each School and Department (as they were previously entitled) had dedicated administrative support teams dealing with their finance and operational requirements. However, to ensure a consistent, streamlined service could be achieved by all the support teams, where maximum efficiencies could be attainted, a centralised approach was introduced instead. Again, this meant a significant change in working practice both for those in the support teams and the ‘customers’ within the schools and departments.

The entire relocation and restructuring process was underpinned by multiple HR projects which were ultimately integral to its success.

Queen’s University, Belfast: Employee Relations. Laura Lynch

At Queen’s the strategic priorities are enabled by three key pillars, one of which is People and Culture. This acknowledges the pivotal role that our staff play in allowing the university to achieve its vision: employees who feel listened to are likely to care more about their work. Employees who care more will provide a better experience for our students.

Through the 2018-21 People and Culture Strategy, People First, QUB have committed to becoming a true listening organisation and providing sufficient opportunities for the Employee Voice to be heard. “We understand the importance of engaging with our people, asking for the honest feedback about all aspects of the employee experience and working together to co-create an improved experience at each touchpoint.”

To ensure open and comprehensive engagement, QUB have established a Staff Forum, with representatives from across the University from all grades and categories. They have launched a ‘People First’ Twitter account, encouraging staff to engage within an online community setting. The university has successfully improved relations with Trade Unions, allowing staff a further avenue to make the Employee Voice heard. Senior leadership have made a concerted effort to improve visibility and accessibility, particularly the VC who has been meeting with small groups of staff in informal face-to-face groups. Lastly, QUB has re-launched its Staff Survey to allow it to once again seek the views of all staff and to understand how the employee experience has changed at Queen’s since the last Survey in 2016.

Cardiff University: LGBT+ Equality. Karen Harvey-Cooke

Over the past ten years Cardiff University has worked consistently on improving sexual orientation and gender identity inclusion ensuring that staff and students can work and study in an environment that enables them to thrive. This work has impacted on every part of the University from policy, procurement, curricula innovation, awareness raising through allies and role models, recruitment, career development and importantly strong and visible leadership. For the past eight years Cardiff has continued to climb up the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index with a current standing of 11 in the Top 100. For the past four years they have been the top University in the index and for the past two years have been part of the small group identified as a Top Trans Employer by Stonewall.  Students and staff regularly say they have chosen to work and study at Cardiff due to its LGBT+ reputation and individual members of staff have been recognised with awards both internally and externally for their commitment to LGBT+ equality. 

Keele University: Advancing Race Equality. Nicola Ratcliffe

Advancing Race Equality at Keele University was identified as an institutional priority in Spring 2017.  In parallel to analysing staff and student data, Keele identified that a dedicated workstream on “culture and communications” would be crucial to making progress in the institution.

They set out to deliver a comprehensive programme of activity to raise institutional awareness of the issues underlying race inequality in Higher Education, and in society more broadly, with a view to ensuring widespread engagement and positive change. 

Working closely with its BAME network, the university successfully delivered interventions which have had an impact on individuals, groups and the institution as a whole. These include:


  • Opportunities for BAME staff and students to give their views in a safe space and to provide confidential feedback on their lived experience to institutional inform action plans 
    • An innovative Race Equality lecture series which has brought prestigious external scholars and speakers to Keele to share the latest, academically rigorous thinking about race
    • Engagement with senior leaders of the University resulting in Council members making personal commitments in support of race equality and members of the University’s Executive including, the Vice Chancellor, participating in race equality (reverse mentoring)
    • A fundamental change to its EDI committee structures to enable progress on race equality, to adopt a more joined up approach to equalities and to support work on intersectionality.

Overall the programme has contributed to a position where staff are more confident in talking about race which means Keele is better able to advance developments to support race equality.

University of Surrey: Employment Works programme. Jo McCarthy-Holland and David O'Connor

This flagship programme provides internships to people with special educational needs, giving them the opportunity to see themselves as valued employees, contributing as equals to team goals. The Employment Works project has shown over eight years that no disability should be a barrier to young people gaining confidence, self-esteem and foundational work skills. People like Daniel, Lewis and 60 others have had the chance to reach their potential. This is change that sticks and has a real impact: more than 30 Employment Works alumni have taken up paid work or apprenticeships – an unthinkable achievement before taking part in the programme. 

Working alongside other colleagues, participants not only gain work experience, they develop interpersonal skills, working in a team and sharing responsibility as part of the group. 

A key success of this programme is that staff at the University do not see participants as disabled. 

“I love the attitude of the University staff. They don’t employ disabled people, they employ a ‘Daniel’ or a ‘Lewis’ who just happen to have a disability” (David O’Connor, Employment Works job coach).

This brings benefit to the University and helps the interns recognise their value as individuals with an identity that is defined by more than a disability.

Edinburgh Napier University. Campbell Millar

Edinburgh Napier University has gone through a significant period of cultural change over the last 2 years and the HR Team have been fundamental in supporting the University in working towards the achievement of our strategy.

Through the introduction of the My Contribution performance management process the institution has seen increased engagement and understanding of how individual performance impacts the overall performance of the University.

Through focusing on the development of a leadership culture Edinburgh Napier is supporting both leaders and teams to embed a high performance culture based on an engaged workforce.

Focusing on recognition through the introduction of the Above and Beyond awards is demonstrating the value placed on individual and team performance while celebrating the great successes across the whole University.

Continuing to drive more proactive and data-based decisions through Workforce Planning conversations ensures everyone knows the skills and behaviours required to be successful in the future while helping the university attract and retain talent.

Focusing on continuous improvement across all our process, policies and procedures has helped simplify and reduce time on a number of activities including consultation, recruitment and line manager activities.

In summary the Edinburgh Napier HR Team have successfully created, launched and embedded a number of key initiatives and strategies that are supporting the University in becoming not only a highly successful University but one that is also seen as an employer of choice and a great place to work. 

University of Exeter. Jonathan Cresswell

The University of Exeter apprenticeship strategy is boosting workforce capability through ‘growing their own’ talent from a variety of entry routes and enhancing skills of the existing staff to meet existing and future skills gaps. This is being delivered by a holistic approach reaching across all campuses in Devon and Cornwall. 

Working with quality local, and national, training providers has ensured that their apprentices are of the highest calibre and has helped to address social mobility and skills shortages.

The University of Exeter is a proud supporter of apprenticeships, with over 107 new apprenticeship starts since May 2017, and believe that apprenticeships will help to develop talent in the South West and will give people the opportunity to work in a Russell Group University.

Apprentices at the University perform exceptionally well and are able to add value to their teams from the day they join.  Many of these go on to secure jobs at the University or progress to the next level apprenticeship on successful completion.

University of Westminster. Anne Beesley, Bryony McPeake

The University had a financial challenge which required a restructure from five faculties to three colleges with a total staff cost savings of £21 million between April 2017 and 31 July 2018 (15 months).  During this restructure the HR and OD department was itself being reduced by 70 percent.

Staff and non-pay cost pressure at the University had continued to exert an upward shift in costs – rising at a time when overall University income is falling.  HR was responsible for ensuring that there was a clear strategy and operational plan (5 phases) in place that delivered the cost savings and new structure within the timeframe set by the Court of Governors.

Some of the key activities that enabled the HR function to operate and deliver to tight timescales in difficult and challenging times included:  A robust communication plan; HR providing manager briefings and a suite of guidelines & templates to empower managers to lead on formal consultation meetings (without HR present) ensuring ownership at a local level; and offering a wide range of resources and services to assist and engage staff during this period of organisational change (e.g. Career Support Portal, career coaching and resilience workshops).

This project demonstrates that despite the enormity and scale of the task and the very tight timeframe, a well-planned and high performing HR team can make a real and sustained difference to the challenges and operational difficulties that the sector currently finds itself operating within.

Please note the following maximum number of free places per your HEIs subscription level:

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