Director of Information Systems

Durham (GB)
Grade 10: - £64,606 - £79,147
20 Nov 2019
End of advertisement period
17 Dec 2019
Contract Type
Full Time

Computing and Information Services

Durham University is one of the world's top universities with strengths across the Arts and Humanities, Sciences and Social Sciences. We are home to some of the most talented scholars and researchers from around the world who are tackling global issues and making a difference to people's lives.

The University sits in a beautiful historic city where it shares ownership of a UNESCO World Heritage Site with Durham Cathedral, the greatest Romanesque building in Western Europe. A collegiate University, Durham recruits outstanding students from across the world and offers an unmatched wider student experience.

Durham University seeks to promote and maintain an inclusive and supportive environment for work and study that assists all members of our University community to reach their full potential. Diversity brings strength and we welcome applications from across the international, national and regional communities that we work with and serve. It is expected that all staff within the University:

  • Contribute to our learning culture by engaging in mentoring, training and coach
  • Positively contribute to fostering a collegial environment; as well as demonstrating commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion.
  • Have due regard to Health and Safety requirements appropriate to grade and role.

The Department and role purpose

Computing and Information Services develops and delivers a multi-million pound portfolio of information systems, services and technology. CIS consists of over 140 staff, based predominantly on the Durham University campus. The Senior Leadership Team report directly to the Chief Information Officer with the following portfolios: Strategy and Change; Operations; and Information Systems. CIS provide academic, teaching and administrative services across the institution. You will be joining the Senior Leadership Team at a vital time, as we set out the Digital Strategy and develop the roadmap that will radically change information systems at Durham University.

Recent infrastructure improvements include investment in a new network backbone, new scalable user facing storage, and a new hosting environment. Corresponding business led investment also continues, including a new Oracle ERP suite, investment in research administration, upgrading the student information system, deploying a prospective student CRM solution and maximising the breadth of opportunities available to the University through Office365.

CIS is a friendly, but demanding department, where much is expected and can be achieved by competent, self-motivated individuals who are able to work collaboratively.

As a member of the CIS Senior Leadership Team you will provide leadership in information systems provision, contribute to institutional strategy and plans and deputise for the Chief Information Officer when required. You will be required to deliver a secure portfolio of integrated and resilient information systems that support areas including student administration, alumni management, finance, HR, the web, research and management reporting.

You will need to establish and nurture positive and collaborative relationships with key stakeholders across the University and lead a portfolio of projects and programmes that will add significant value and competitive advantage to Durham University.

The post holder will have a key part to play in the further development of CIS as a service within the University and will need to identify and manage potential risks and issues, as well as establishing the priority of CIS activity in delivering solutions and operational excellence.

Core responsibilities:

  • Provide professional and strategic leadership for significant areas of the organisation with accountability for the development and delivery of business plans and outputs.
  • Have a substantial impact on departmental direction, strategy and objectives. 
  • Contribute to strategic planning and influence the development of departmental goals.
  • Lead, direct and manage the interrelationship of a team of managers and / or highly qualified professionals across the area of responsibility.
  • Review and address departmental performance and make a significant impact upon longer-term improvements typically within a one year timescale
  • Lead through appropriate consultation or negotiations, organisational changes to tackle major new issues and situations. 
  • Utilise problem-solving skills to implement robust solutions to department / service issues.
  • Develop workforce plans and identify talent priorities to ensure the recruitment and retention of highly competent and professional staff.
  • Lead or contribute to internal and external business meetings, working groups and committees at departmental or functional service level to influence governance, policy and standards for the service.
  • Be accountable for budget within area of responsibility.
  • Influence and shape the available resources as appropriate to meet the current and future needs of the University.
  • Deputise for more senior managers where required.

Role responsibilities:

The Director of Information Systems is responsible for the strategic development and operational delivery of Information Systems across the University and acts as the Service Lead for Information Systems across the University.

The following are key role requirements of the post holder:

Analysis & Reporting

  • Develop, implement, audit and monitor performance and operating policies over time within area of responsibility to include timeliness, quality, documentation and security of the University’s information systems, and identify areas of improvement.
  • Maintain a continuous review of quality, vendor management, and of external benchmarks to promote the best possible service and cost optimisation.

Planning & Organising

  • Develop, maintain and lead the implementation of information strategies and plans for the area of responsibility, or specialism, with a rolling 2 year view of demand for information systems capability (investment, innovation, continuous improvement).
  • Contribute to the development and delivery of departmental strategy and policy.
  • Lead projects and initiatives which have significant resources and impact. 
  • Working with architects, the Technical Design Authority and appropriate software suppliers to ensure the road map supports the evolution of the information systems capability in line with the Digital Strategy.
  • Maintain a current knowledge of regulatory and strategic developments in the sector that may affect the technology needs of the University, and work with the CIO and the University’s Senior Management Team to ensure these are planned for and satisfied in a timely and controlled manner.
  • Establish industry best practice within the design, planning, development and ongoing support of information systems within the University.
  • Provide knowledge and experience of full software development life cycles and quality assurance based upon ISO standards and audit requirements, ensuring that required processes are in place and adhered to by all staff.

Customer Service & Liaison

  • Maintain clear and effective operational management to deliver agreed customer services.
  • Seek out feedback from the institution regarding areas of service responsibility.
  • Work with senior colleagues from all areas of the university, with committees and external bodies, providing high level advice.
  • Support the governance role of the CIO within the university regarding the Digital Strategy, strategic goals and priorities.
  • Take an active role, as a member of the CIS Senior Leadership Team, to lead innovation in the use of information systems and ensure there is collaboration across CIS to ensure effective service delivery to the university.
  • Represent the university externally in sector groups in consultations and negotiations.

People Management

  • Lead and manage Information services staff, developing and raising performance through mentoring and coaching.

The team should be capable of:

  1. developing and supporting University administrative systems 
  2. developing specific applications to support research, teaching or other University processes.
  • Motivate, assess and reward of employees as required under university policy.
  • Work in partnership with the members of the CIS SLT to ensure that information systems requirements are identified as early as possible and jointly managed through to delivery, agreeing practical divisions of responsibility and allocation of staff resources

Continuous Improvement

  • Undertake continuous review of departmental quality and of external benchmarks to promote the best possible service.
  • Promote and actively support the adoption of a service led culture within CIS.


  • Undertake day to day interaction with people of any level, within or outside of the organisation.
  • Ensure the strategic vision for technology is communicated to and understood by key stakeholders in Professional Support Services and, where appropriate, the wider University, in line with the Digital Strategy.
  • Take responsibility for the timely reporting and communication across the University’s Senior Management Team and ensuring that all stakeholders are clear on the status of all programmes and projects within the information systems portfolio. Namely:
  • Reporting portfolio status regularly to the Senior Management Team and other University stakeholders.
  • Communicating the strategic and operational value of projects and programmes to CIS Service Leads and technical teams.
  • Communicating the technical aspects of projects and programmes to non-technical University Stakeholders, including designing and delivering training where appropriate
  • Any other reasonable duties as required

Specific role requirements

To be on-call and available at key times throughout the year, predominately for planned project work or where ther

Person specification - skills, knowledge, qualifications and experience required:  


  • Excellent oral and written communication skills and the ability to develop effective working relationships, both internally and externally.
  • Strong interpersonal skills including motivational, negotiating, influencing and networking nationally and internationally.
  • Proven IT skills, including use of Microsoft Office.
  • Five GCSE’s at least Grade C or level four (or equivalent) including English Language and Mathematics (or equivalent experience).
  • Educated to degree level (or equivalent experience).
  • Professional information systems practitioner with specialist knowledge and expertise used to influence events and activities within the organisation
  • Extensive experience of operating at a strategic / expert level for a sustained period of time.
  • Significant experience in the provision strategic information systems for a medium to large enterprise Knowledge of information system security principles and associated legislation.
  • Proven working knowledge of the delivery of complex integrated information system environments
  • Definition of service and operational standards and provision of relevant documentation and training for information systems
  • Ability to contribute to planning at operational and strategic levels.
  • Proven experience of planning and leading organisation wide projects with a timescale between 6 and 24 months and a significant budget
  • Extensive knowledge and experience of ensuring compliance with regulatory and organisational policy and guidelines
  • Experience of managing and controlling substantial budget/resources/funding and an understanding of financial management procedures.
  • Experience of being able to network effectively and develop strong and productive working relationships, to influence perceptions of the University.
  • Demonstrable ability to provide specialist advice and influence others at operational at strategic levels. 
  • Track record of cross-functional management and development experience and/or an enhanced management qualification applied across a large service team or teams  


  • Educated to postgraduate level
  • Continuing professional development required to maintain professional recognition
  • Qualified to ITIL foundation level
  • Qualified in a standard project management methodology e.g. MSP or PRINCE2      

Recruiting to this post  

In order to progress to the assessment stage of the recruitment process, candidates must evidence each of the essential criteria required for the role (including the Realising Your Potential Approach which you may address in your cover letter).  It will be at the discretion of the recruiting panel as to whether they will also consider the desirable criteria but we would urge candidates to provide evidence for all criteria. 

Please note that some criteria will only be considered for those candidates who proceed to the assessment stage.  

How to apply

We prefer to receive applications online.

Please note that in submitting your application Durham University will be processing your data. We would ask you to consider the relevant University Privacy Statement https://www.dur.ac.uk/ig/dp/privacy/pnjobapplicants/ which provides information on the collation, storing and use of data.

What you are required to submit

The person specification essential and desirable criteria questions;
A covering letter which details your experience, strengths and potential in the requirements set out above;

Contact details

For further information please contact John Hemingway, Chief Information Officer:
Email: john.hemingway@durham.ac.uk 
Tel: 0191 334 3930 

At Durham University, our aim is to create an open and inclusive environment where everyone can reach their full potential and believe our staff should reflect the diversity of the global community in which we work.  We welcome and encourage applications from members of groups who are under-represented in our work force including people with disabilities, women and black, Asian and minority ethnic communities.

We will notify you on the status of your application at various points throughout the selection process, via automated emails from our e-recruitment system.  Please check your spam/junk folder periodically to ensure you receive all emails