THE Leadership and Management Awards 2015 :: Winners
The 2015 winners are revealed... Congratulations!


The winners of the 2015 THE Leadership and Management Awards were announced on 18 June 2015. 

Click on the names of the winners below to see more.

You can also download the 2015 winner's book, showing the full details of the winning projects.

Outstanding Leadership and Management Team
Newcastle University
Judges' comments:

Newcastle University impressed the judges with innovative programmes to develop leadership throughout the university and improve the diversity of those in senior positions. Newcastle’s Leadership Succession Strategy Group aims to identify potential long-term successors to key strategic leadership roles.

In addition, its flagship programme for talent development is Faculty Futures, which selects 20-25 early career staff identified as having leadership potential and provides them with a programme of support. Of the current cohort, 15 out of 23 are women.

For more established senior leaders, there is an Academic Leaders Programme run jointly with Durham University, plus executive coaching. The university says that the benefits of its “integrated and focused approach to leadership development” can be seen in feedback from staff. In the university’s Employee Opinion Survey, 80 per cent of those expressing an opinion said that the executive manages and leads the university well, while 81 per cent were satisfied with the support they receive from their immediate manager.

The judges said: “What distinguished Newcastle University’s submission was that it defined the leadership and management team in the broadest sense and focused on the development of leadership skills and capacity throughout the institution. This approach, importantly led from the centre, exemplified for the judges an approach to developing distributed or shared leadership capability and responsibility.”



Outstanding Development/Alumni Relations Team
University of York
Judges' comments:

The Yu Initiative at the University of York offers students funding, learning and mentoring opportunities through engaging with the wider community of alumni. Not only do they gain from existing networks (and learn about the value of networks), but they become “alumni in training” and so become far more likely to “give something back” once they graduate. By encouraging students to be self-starters and become “good alumni citizens”, the university believes in turn it is able to develop diverse and sustainable support for future generations.

One of the judges described Yu as “a win-win initiative” which impressed them with “its culture of collaboration, strategic focus and feel-good factor”. “York has succeeded in developing a range of programmes that help students build skills for the workforce, while simultaneously developing an engaged and active alumni population,” the judging panel said.

The Yu programme includes several aspects. YuStart has enabled 35 students to crowdfund innovative projects. YuCall has brought 95 “confident, friendly and articulate” students into a telephone fundraising team that has given grants worth £192,000 to 80 clubs and societies, while also providing bursaries to second- and third-year students in the greatest financial need who can demonstrate how they have enhanced their employability. The YuCycle annual charity ride raises money for bursaries and sports scholarships and the YuVolunteer scheme taps into the goodwill of York graduates by calling on alumni and friends to come and speak or help with mentoring and student career planning.



Outstanding Human Resources Team
Nottingham Trent University
Judges' comments:

A desire to support both the development of staff at Nottingham Trent University and further the institution’s corporate responsibility agenda led the institution’s human resources team to develop a new approach to employer-supported volunteering, and the department’s efforts have been rewarded with this award.

The team developed the existing informal approach to employer- supported volunteering to ensure that those who took part acknowledged the value of such activities. Staff are now supported to engage in community-based activities through the provision of paid time off during working hours; they can use employer- supported volunteering as a legitimate form of staff development; and can identify opportunities to develop skills in areas where they feel they have a real passion or interest outside the workplace.

The scheme has helped to address the issue of diversity in access to volunteering. In 2010-11, just 10 per cent of the university’s volunteers were male; by 2013-14 this was 33 per cent. Some 77 per cent of staff taking part in the 2013-14 year felt that volunteering had developed their communication skills, 72 per cent had developed more confidence, and 69 per cent reported being more motivated at work.

“The judges were impressed by the way in which Nottingham Trent’s employer-supported volunteering had been creative in aligning two strategic priorities with great success and efficiency,” said a panel member.



Outstanding Estates Team
Edinburgh Napier University
Judges' comments:

There were “several strong contenders” in this category which called on institutions to outline the key achievements in property and facilities management over the past three years, to show how they are developing and encouraging sustainable solutions in campus buildings, and to outline how the estates team’s work improves on standard sector practice and addresses emerging challenges and opportunities.

Edinburgh Napier University, the winner, detailed how it had spent £10 million on redeveloping its Merchiston campus, which enabled it to bring its faculties on to three dedicated campuses and rationalise its estate “through the disposal of nine sites”. The design features have “significantly improved space utilisation, functional stability, efficiency and overall student experience”, according to the institution, while elsewhere Edinburgh Napier has built a new 778-bed student residency which offers sustainable accommodation within the heart of the city.

The recent changes to the estate have enabled further carbon savings in addition to those already accrued through the institution’s carbon management plan.

The judging panel said the work of the estates team had “delivered a substantial contribution to the university’s corporate objectives, and strong performance in estate rationalisation has delivered some outstanding new spaces, while simultaneously generating a major reduction in both operating cost and carbon release”.

Outstanding Finance Team
University of Huddersfield
Judges' comments:

Controlling costs and delivering the resources needed to invest in the future saw the University of Huddersfield win the outstanding finance team category.

Huddersfield’s finance team believe the university is now “the UK’s most financially secure mainstream university”. They claim a record of being debt free, having the highest Higher Education Statistics Agency financial security index and having the highest reported historical cost surplus. The team have achieved this by creating a culture of financial awareness across the university, generating sufficient cash to meet investment plans without recourse to external borrowing and maintaining financial strength to deal with contingencies.

There is also an “innovative partnership model” with schools and services, through which the finance team make sure that allocation of resources matches business objectives at corporate and local levels, a minimum surplus for future investment is delivered and school income is linked to earnings.

The judges said the Huddersfield finance team had “helped the university to establish a very stable and robust financial status”. “The work they have done to control the cost base has been very effective and delivered a strong financial result continuously over the past few years. This has given them a position of strength and the capacity to reinvest in future developments.” 



Outstanding Marketing/Communications Team
Glasgow School of Art
Judges' comments:

Excellence in the face of adversity secured the title for the Glasgow School of Art with the award recognising the success of the school’s response to the devastating fire that swept through the institution’s famous Mackintosh Building in May 2014 and attracted interest from around the world.

As the flames raged, the communications team issued a quick factual statement, which set the tone for a multi-channel response that had several key objectives: providing transparent updates, protecting the institution’s reputation, attracting donations for restoration and maintaining applicant numbers. After the initial response, the school provided daily updates that were sent to staff, students, alumni and applicants, and also shared publicly online.

Key influencers such as writer Muriel Gray and actor Peter Capaldi were persuaded to lend their support to the school’s campaign, and the use of social media was also very important: the school’s following in key networks increased by 50 per cent in the month after the fire and has remained steady since.

The judges described the school’s “systematic” plan to deal with the emergency and the global interest as “an outstanding achievement in such a very short space of time”. “The proactive approach by the school’s communications team got international attention and global coverage, and has led the way for a restoration programme and development funding to rebuild this wonderful edifice.”



Outstanding Library Team
Wales Higher Education Libraries Forum (WHELF)
Judges' comments:

The Wales Higher Education Libraries Forum (WHELF) – comprising the National Library of Wales, all 10 Welsh higher education institutions and Welsh NHS Libraries – is a groundbreaking partnership to deliver a library management system for the whole country. A single identity now allows users to access and borrow material from every higher education library, while both physical and digital services are being transformed.

The judges described WHELF as an “ambitious project” that “shows great trust, ability to develop a shared vision and achieve impressive cross-organisational alignment and coordination”. “As well as cost savings on procurement and infrastructure, the partnership approach will improve discovery and ultimately access to library resources for all users in Welsh universities, the National Library of Wales and further afield,” the panel said.

The WHELF project, the first of its kind within UK higher education, has secured funding through Jisc and CyMAL (Museums, Archives and Libraries Wales).

Although led by Cardiff University, which chaired both the working and the steering groups, it has been a genuinely collaborative process, with all the member libraries playing a full and active part. Given their geographical distribution, this has involved video-conferencing and shared online spaces for storage and real-time production of essential documentation.



Digital Innovation of the Year
The Open University
Judges' comments:

The Production Portal at The Open University manages the production of thousands of hours of audio and video content created by the institution every year, and it has been named this year’s digital innovation of the year.

The portal enables the university to manage the legal and contractual information associated with the use of content from third parties by logging all external material used in resources and hence avoid copyright problems.

The system was the brainchild of the university’s licensing and acquisitions department and has grown at an impressive rate since its launch in January 2013. It is now used to produce all The Open University’s AV content, and the developers say it has revolutionised the way the institution produces and reuses content. At the start of the 2013-14 academic year, the portal managed just a handful of resources, but by the end of the year, about 9,000 sound and video files had been produced through the portal. Forty years’ worth of video archive is now fully searchable.

The judging panel was particularly impressed with the portal’s capabilities relating to rights management. “It is great to see how The Open University has exploited technology to simplify its processes while also controlling the risk of litigation and reputational damage that might arise from inappropriate reuse of third-party material. The Production Portal has great potential for transferability, across higher and further education,” they said.



Outstanding Student Services Team
Northumbria University
Judges' comments:

Northumbria University’s winning entry centred on three flagship initiatives described by the judges as “strong examples of excellence”. With demand for counselling and mental health services growing – some 1,000 Northumbria students accessed support in 2012-13 – the university overhauled its provision to cut waiting times, prioritise urgent cases and improve student well-being. Thanks to a remodelled service team, year-on-year waiting times fell by 9 per cent, despite a 25 per cent increase in students registering for support via a new online process.

Waits for counselling were reduced from 16 to nine days, with all enquiries receiving a response within one working day and priority cases fast-tracked for immediate action. Students are now also directed to a range of services, such as exam stress advice and sports services, which freed up time for extra face-to-face counselling when required.

A new university-wide process to reduce student dropout rates was also lauded by judges, who were impressed by the one-to-one support for students considering changing course or leaving.

Nearly 1,500 students were helped in the scheme’s first eight months, with 93 per cent of students who were unsure about their course staying at the university, saving around £740,000 in tuition fee income for Northumbria. In addition, a revamped welcome event for new students was also a hit with the judging panel. “It is great to see this strong commitment to quality in the heartland of student services and support,” the judges said.



Outstanding International Strategy
Harper Adams University
Judges' comments:

The world’s food security challenges demand global solutions and the impressive contribution of Harper Adams University is recognised with victory in this category.

During 2013-14, Harper Adams built on its 10-year partnership with Beijing University of Agriculture to establish links with three more leading Chinese agricultural institutions: it launched a joint undergraduate programme with Huazhong Agricultural University; ran an agri-engineering summer school for Northwest Agriculture and Forestry University; and developed a joint master’s degree in precision farming with China Agricultural University. The latter course was awarded 15 postgraduate scholarships by the government in its first year.

Harper Adams also secured 25 postgraduate scholarships from the government of the Dominican Republic, and launched a Centre for Integrated Pest Management, which will work with universities from across the European Union, to explore this important component of the new Common Agricultural Policy.

The judges described Harper Adams’ international strategy as being “innovative and impressive”. “It has demonstrated how, over time, this small specialist university has incorporated an international ethos into its core activity, and targeted partners and regions where it can grow its own research excellence and impact,” the panel said.



Knowledge Exchange/Transfer Initiative of the Year
University of Derby
Judges' comments:

A new institute that makes the University of Derby’s engineering expertise accessible to small businesses has won this year’s award. The Institute for Innovation in Sustainable Engineering has redirected the university’s knowledge exchange strategy towards the sectors important in local economic growth and employment.

Rail, aerospace and automotive businesses account for 65 per cent of the city’s economic output and 36 per cent of local employment. But small and medium-sized enterprises felt they could not access Derby’s knowledge exchange programmes, which focused on high-level skills.

In response to calls from local industry for access to research and development facilities with the latest technologies, a vision for the new institute was outlined in 2012-13. The university appointed a director and acquired a former mill to house the institute, which provides laboratories and workshops. In its first year, SMEs and original equipment manufacturers joined the institute’s board and pledged £6.3 million in support and equipment. Derby has since increased its knowledge transfer partnerships from one to 10 and appointed its first SME-sponsored professorial position in 2013-14.

The judges said that among a strong field, Derby’s “institutional commitment” to the project was “notable, as was the response from local industry”. The “aptness” of the knowledge exchange strategy given the city of Derby’s economy also helped to convince judges that the entry “edged out” the other candidates.

Outstanding Student Admissions Team
University of Warwick
Judges' comments:

A root-and-branch review of recruitment and admissions processes by the University of Warwick led to soaring application numbers. Having identified several ways to smooth the transition from sixth-former to undergraduate, Warwick’s academics, central service teams and students worked together to deliver a radical overhaul of all stages of admissions.

School visits more than doubled to 63 and student blogging was expanded, leading to a 10-fold rise in applicants accessing Warwick’s web pages. An extra open day was scheduled, which resulted in visits more than doubling to 49,000 in 2013-14, with 34 open days for offer-holders welcoming 3,800 people.

Warwick kept in touch with potential applicants via a monthly newsletter sent to 45,000 subscribers, with applications increasing by 18 per cent in a single year. The speed of offer-making increased dramatically and a new paperless confirmation and clearing process helped to secure students quickly and efficiently. In addition, Warwick held an internal recruitment, admissions and outreach conference to share what the staff had learned from the process and foster greater collaboration between academic and professional service staff.

Judges said they were “impressed by the scale of change and the significance of the impact over a relatively short space of time”. “Dramatic improvement in the speed of decisions plus changes in open-day management saw bookings more than double in one year.”



Outstanding Administrative Services Team
University of Sheffield
Judges' comments:

The University of Sheffield’s administration team introduced three improvement projects that made it stand out in this field. First, as a response to the switch to individual voter registration for elections, it worked with the students’ union and local authorities to implement a system for getting students on the electoral register that was embedded within its online university registration process. The initiative resulted in Sheffield achieving the highest proportion of registered student voters nationally and the university has already provided guidance to other institutions looking to introduce the model.

It also introduced higher education achievement reports (HEAR) for all its undergraduate students, providing a comprehensive record of their university achievements, including academic and extracurricular learning and experience.

Last year also saw the roll-out of the university’s peer conciliation service for students, which began as a trial in 2012-13. The scheme, which provides front-line informal support to students, has had a 100 per cent success rate; since its launch none of the cases has resulted in a formal complaint.

Judges said that Sheffield’s “collaborative approach to all the team’s activities focus on results that matter to students” and its “ethos of collegiality” with regard to sharing best practice and expertise with other universities and organisations made it “a deserving winner”.

Outstanding Departmental Administration Team
University of Birmingham
Judges' comments:

Judges in this category sought evidence of excellent communication and balanced delivery based on the needs of students, academics and the institution’s central administration. It also asked entrants to describe the challenges met and how the team dealt with them.

In the “virtual team of professional staff” in the University of Birmingham’s department of history, the judges found a departmental administration model that had significant involvement with the university’s recent successes. Working in close partnership with academics, professional services staff achieved, among other things, a 34 per cent increase in admissions and grant capture of £1.37 million.

Most impressive of all, the department gained first place in the history grade point average table in the 2014 research excellence framework thanks, in part, to a senior research facilitator who is part of the wider College of Arts and Law’s research support team.

The judges said the “creation of a virtual team of professional staff has clearly had a big impact” on the department, “helping it to deliver impressive results in the REF, improving student experience, and sustaining improvements in student recruitment”.

“The virtual team, a mixture of dedicated resource in the department and specialist resource shared across the College [of Arts and Law], is central to the exceptional partnership working and effective communication between academic and professional staff that impressed the judges,” said the panel.

Outstanding Procurement Team
Newcastle University
Judges' comments:

The winner of this year’s award is Newcastle University for an initiative to reduce delivery vehicles on campus and cut its carbon footprint. The Smartfusion project sees deliveries redirected to an off-site consolidation centre and then distributed throughout the university using an all-electric vehicle.

Research conducted as part of the project, which began in May 2013, revealed that deliveries comprised about 20 per cent of traffic entering the campus with almost 1,300 vehicles a week. After identifying the suppliers that made the most deliveries to the university using purchasing data, the procurement team met with departments to discuss the project and rule out deliveries that would be unsuitable for the scheme, such as food.

Further meetings helped to trim the list of top suppliers to 35 and the university approved the business case for the project in June 2014. Consolidated deliveries for four suppliers began in August 2014 using a 7.5t electric vehicle. More than 30 of the top suppliers are now involved in the project, which ultimately aims to reduce the number of delivery vehicles visiting the campus each week by 300 and save 90 tonnes of carbon a year.

The judges were impressed with the collaborative work that involved many parties to stop direct delivery to the campus site. “The benefits include cost savings to the university along with improvements to health and safety around the campus while protecting the environment using electric vehicles,” they said./p>



Outstanding Strategic Planning Team
Loughborough University
Judges' comments:

Loughborough University’s winning entry was centred on a change management programme that was launched in 2013. Its aims were to embed a common methodology and approach to change within its services and departments; improve the experience of the processes by end-users; and avoid a “top-down disempowering approach” that results in “defensive disengagement” and hence the failure to change.

To tackle these issues, Loughborough identified eight processes for the first wave of projects. They included providing support for a range of people including bought-in teachers, staff looking to organise an academic conference, and students who wished to go on an overseas exchange. The university established teams for each process, using a “walking in the shoes of the customer” approach to gather data on the performance of the processes and identify new principles.

The results have been significant. Each review has led to a better process from the end-user’s perspective when compared with the objective measures established at the start, and staff have become more empowered. The processes are also less wasteful, which has enabled a saving of £3.5 million in the 2015-16 budget.

Judges praised the “walking in the shoes of the customer” approach as a means to articulate and motivate process change improvements as well as engage with those involved in a meaningful way.