'In HR, I know that I am successful when my role is actually invisible'

May 25, 2007

Edinburgh University's human resources head wants to put policy into practice beyond her own department.

Sheila Gupta, who has just become director of human resources at Edinburgh University, admits her career choice was accidental.

She graduated in history and politics from Keele University at a bleak time for graduate employment but landed an HR post with the London borough of Brent.

"I had applied for a wide, wide range of management training jobs, and this was the first job I was offered." But she found she enjoyed HR, which she describes as simultaneously strategic and hands-on. After another council stint in Harrow she moved to Ealing College and was there during its transformation into Thames Valley University. She has worked in every type of higher education institution, latterly City University, where she was awarded a Leadership Foundation fellowship.

"I don't want people to think HR is about the HR department," she says.

"It's about good people-management practice throughout the whole organisation.

"I know I'm successful when my role is actually invisible. Empowering is a word that's too tired now, but you're enabling people to carry out their responsibilities completely confidently."

Ms Gupta is enthusiastic that Edinburgh, with 7,500 staff, expressly supports "opportunity and diversity". Equality is often seen simply as legal compliance, she says.

"Opportunity and diversity isn't talking about getting the playing field level for everybody, it's aiming to create an inclusive culture where we actually celebrate difference. It's about everybody feeling they've got a part to play."

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

James Fryer illustration (27 July 2017)

It is not Luddism to be cautious about destroying an academic publishing industry that has served us well, says Marilyn Deegan

Hand squeezing stress ball
Working 55 hours per week, the loss of research periods, slashed pensions, increased bureaucracy, tiny budgets and declining standards have finally forced Michael Edwards out
Jeffrey Beall, associate professor and librarian at the University of Colorado Denver

Creator of controversial predatory journals blacklist says some peers are failing to warn of dangers of disreputable publishers

Kayaker and jet skiiers

Nazima Kadir’s social circle reveals a range of alternative careers for would-be scholars, and often with better rewards than academia

hole in ground

‘Drastic action’ required to fix multibillion-pound shortfall in Universities Superannuation Scheme, expert warns