Managers, take a bow

The inaugural Times Higher Education Leadership and Management Awards, run in association with the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education, will recognise and reward business and management. The deadline for entries is 20 February, with the ceremony to take place at the London Hilton Hotel on 9 June. Here some of the judges outline what they will be looking for

February 12, 2009


"Capital programmes are increasingly demanding," says Jon F. Baldwin, registrar at the University of Warwick.

"In a time of economic recession, in particular today's credit crunch, how is the institution's capital plan kept moving? Are projects being delivered on time and to budget?"

These are some of the many questions that our judges will be asking of applicants in the fundraising team category.

Entries will be expected to demonstrate innovative initiatives, and must include data showing their successes compared with teams at similar institutions.

Mr Baldwin said that for a team to be successful in this category, it is important that the funding being raised is received at as little cost to the university as possible.


This category will reward reliable ICT systems and the talented professionals that are involved in creating and maintaining them - an essential aspect of any successful organisation.

Attention will be paid to innovative work carried out to support staff and students in their daily lives.

Chris Cobb, pro vice-chancellor at Roehampton University (pictured), said: "I'm hoping to see inspiring innovation with tangible results, the kind of success that others will wish to emulate. An example of this might be new business models involving technology or collaboration with other universities to provide shared services."


It seems that almost every university has a cutting-edge, status-symbol piece of architecture these days, but it will take more than good looks for a building to win this award.

Chris Cobb, pro vice-chancellor at Roehampton University, said: "Initiatives involving improvements to the student experience and operational efficiency, as well as projects that have reduced the use of carbon, will be of particular interest."

Factors that will be taken into account by our judges will include disabled facilities or differing funding methods for new accommodation.

Wes Streeting, president of the National Union of Students, said: "I want to see those student residences that are designed to meet the needs of 21st-century students, rather than simply catering for the conferencing market."


Creative and interesting campaigns are all very well, but they will also need to demonstrate their success to triumph in this category.

The judges are looking for a series of two or more advertisements, and will expect a description of the concept behind the campaign.

Ewart Wooldridge, chief executive of the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education (pictured), said: "This will be judged by the outcomes against the recruitment targets that were originally set, (but we'll favour) campaigns that are expressed and run in a way that adds to the broader vision and image of the institution."


Judges will be looking at the overall quality of services provided by an institution's library team and the level of support they provide for undergraduates, postgraduates and research students as well as academic staff.

Cary Cooper, pro vice-chancellor at Lancaster University, said he would be keeping his eyes peeled for "innovative services that differentiate you from other library services".

Meanwhile, Chris Cobb, pro vice-chancellor at Roehampton University, wanted to see new ways of engaging with students and staff that met their expectations, rather than the institution's demands.


This category will recognise the most successful HR strategy and the team behind it.

The successful project will also be aligned to the university's overall strategy.

Cary Cooper, pro vice-chancellor (external relations) at Lancaster University (pictured), said he would be looking for a "comprehensive and understandable" HR strategy, and was interested in those governing areas such as stress management, bullying, downsizing and flexible working.

Victoria Bird, director of human resources at TSL Education, wanted to see a team that combines great service with high operational and strategic impact.


Whether it is a spectacular new building or a project that could have a much wider impact across the sector, the estates management team that wins this award will be pioneers.

Patrick Finch, bursar and director of estates at the University of Bristol (pictured), said: "From the winner I would hope to see something based on a sustainable approach, perhaps an innovative way of reusing existing buildings or remodelling an entire estate.

"It might also be a customer initiative that helps support the overall mission, either staff- or student-focused, a catalyst for regeneration or a community initiative."


This award will go to the team with the most success in delivering their property and facilities management strategy.

Achievements might include campus redevelopment, the completion of projects under budget, or an environmentally friendly approach that saves cash and the environment.

Patrick Finch, bursar and director of estates at the University of Bristol, said he would favour "a commitment to carbon reduction at the core of activities, together with a focus on service".


Times are tough as the recession bites, so this is a category of particular interest.

Focusing on innovative financial solutions, the prize will be awarded to the team that can demonstrate that its initiative has had the most impact.

Recognition will also be paid to its potential to be widely adopted across the sector.

David Barnes, partner at Grant Thornton, said he would be looking for "an initiative that shows the capacity to provide additional funds to the institution, thereby reducing its reliance on government funding".


"It is crucial that the finance team at any higher education institution can provide timely and accurate financial information that enables the senior management team to make appropriate strategic decisions and a proper funding schedule that allows it to budget adequately."

So said David Barnes, a partner at Grant Thornton and one of our judges.

The winning team will show its ability to meet targets and deadlines while maintaining financial rigour.


"The support of accommodation services can make a huge difference to students' experiences," said Wes Streeting, president of the National Union of Students and one of our judges.

This winning team will demonstrate that it provides its institution with unique facilities and can overcome challenges.

Mr Streeting said it was also important that staff were able to provide for their clientele.

He said: "I want this award to showcase the best examples of how accommodation teams are catering for the diversity of today's student body, while also getting key information out to students in more effective and innovative ways."


"Marketing can be overplayed and overblown," said Jon F. Baldwin, registrar at the University of Warwick (pictured).

"How are subtle messages communicated in a somewhat cynical environment?"

This award is looking for a team that can demonstrate its success with evidence of novel methods being employed to communicate to staff, students and beyond the campus walls.

The winner will also be able to demonstrate a solid understanding of what the job entails.

"I will be looking for a marketing team that works well with colleagues across its higher education institution to achieve marketing objectives that are research-based, and innovative and creatively executed," said Tricia Wombell, director of marketing and communications at the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education and one of our judges.


In the modern world it is vital for universities to actively attract students.

This has become increasingly apparent as institutions compete for scholars not only from the UK, but from overseas, too.

With this in mind, the winning team will have to demonstrate how its recruitment strategy has increased domestic and international applications at its institution.

Wes Streeting, president of the National Union of Students (pictured), said: "I will be looking for the student recruitment team that provides accurate, accessible and engaging information to potential applicants and genuinely seeks to widen participation at its institution.

"The university prospectus won't be enough to win this award. I want to see some of the really creative and innovative tools that institutions are using to genuinely capture students' imaginations, inspiring them to succeed."


"Perhaps the real test of success here is that the initiative is not labelled 'human resources', but is seen as a project absolutely integral to the success of the organisation," said Ewart Wooldridge, chief executive of the Leadership Foundation.

The prize will go to the initiative that has had the most positive impact in higher education HR.

Mr Wooldridge said it was also key that the initiative "engages the willing collaboration of all concerned, including those who originally might have been counted as detractors".


"I find the best leaders are those who have a full understanding of the environment, are able to accept advice and change tack when necessary, but who also have a dogged determination to see something through to the end," said Chris Cobb, pro vice-chancellor at Roehampton University.

Our judges are looking for breadth and depth of leadership and management skills across a university, covering most of the areas seen in the other award categories.

Maureen Skinner, registrar of the faculty of the arts at Thames Valley University, said it was important that "a leadership and management methodology transcends the routine but does not neglect operational realities.

"It should also have a flexible and adaptable approach that is capable of responding to an uncertain future."

Jon F. Baldwin, registrar at the University of Warwick, added: "Good and proactive management oils the academic wheels.

"It is not undertaken in isolation and, if it's good, it is not often noticed. It is high time it was."

With this award, that time has come.


The proven impact of an ICT project will be the key to winning this award, and entrants are also asked to describe how their success could be emulated across the higher education sector.

Ewart Wooldridge, chief executive of the Leadership Foundation, said: "I will be looking for an initiative for which the purpose is clearly understood from the outset.

"Although it may involve highly sophisticated technical processes and thinking, it will proceed as an initiative that all can recognise and understand."

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