The way we work

Friday 24-10-2014 - 10:23

You will be aware that we have been reviewing our structure for a while now and planning to make some changes - starting with the leadership group - to ensure our structures can best support the aims of the organisation. 

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By Peter Robertson, Acting Chief Executive and Deputy Chief Executive (Business and Resources)

The main drivers for this have been in these four areas:

a)   Responding to a number of senior staff leaving across the Group;

b)   A desire to improve our ability to be agile and collaborative;

c)   More emphasis on the NUS Group and less on individual legal entities to deliver more effectively for our members;

d)   A need for more focused and effective officer support.

I am pleased to confirm that we have now made the following changes to the way our work is structured and the leadership group:

To bring together five areas of work (directorates) as set out in the attached chart:

  • People, Governance and Performance
  • Influence, Insight and Student Voice
  • Devolved Nations and Internationalism
  • Resources and Business Development
  • Finance and Infrastructure

There are a number of roles that have changed slightly, where specific roles are taking on or amending responsibilities 

These are summarised as:

  • NUSSL Managing Director (me) becomes Deputy Chief Executive (Resources and Business Development);
  • NUS Charity Director (Alison Chappell) becomes Deputy Chief Executive (Influence, Insight and Student Voice) and takes on oversight of Devolved Nations and Internationalism directorate and ‘The Student Engagement Partnership’ and ‘Policy’ Departments;
  • Group Director of Finance (Dave Farbrother) becomes Director of Finance and Infrastructure and takes on oversight of the IT Team.  This role reports to the Chief Executive;
  • Director of Nations (Mike Day) becomes Director of Devolved Nations and Internationalism and takes on oversight of our developing work around internationalism.  The role reports to the Deputy Chief Executive (Influence, Insight and Student Voice);
  • Director of IT and New Media (Doug Tomlinson) becomes Director of New Media and focuses on the development of our digital assets and data;
  • Director of Marketing and Communications (Simon Rayner) becomes Communications Director and focuses on the development of our strategic communications, developing our membership/customer services and leading on group-wide research strategy;
  • Assistant Director Policy (Graeme Wise) becomes a general Assistant Director and takes on oversight of our cross-cutting strategic work, leading on key Group-wide projects.  The role reports to the Director of People, Governance and Performance;
  • Head of Students’ Union Quality (Ben Ward) becomes Head of Students’ Union Development;
  • Ethical and Environmental Manager (Jamie Agombar) becomes Head of Environmental Sustainability.  The role will largely operate as currently, although may be required to take on slightly enhanced work around externally funded projects;
  • Head of Political Strategy Unit (Alex Jones) becomes Head of Advocacy, Campaigns and Political Affairs.  The role reports to the Director of People, Governance and Performance.

There are a number of new roles required in this structure that are significantly different from existing jobs carried out by colleagues within the leadership group

Therefore we have undertaken a process, in line with our agreements with the trade unions, to assess ‘at risk’ individuals.  That process is now completed and colleagues have been assessed and placed into the following roles:

  • Director of People, Governance and Performance (Graham Atkinson, formerly Group Head of People)
  • Head of Policy (Debbie McVitty, formerly Head of High Education)
  • NUS Scotland Director (Russell Gunson, formerly Depute Director / Head of Policy and Delivery NUS Scotland)
  • Assistant Director (Marketing and Research) (Lizzie Bone, formerly Head of Group Research)
  • An additional general Assistant Director with a particular remit for supporting co-ordination across departments, supporting elected officers, and high level policy work (David Malcolm, formerly Head of Social Policy)

Until the appointment of a new Chief Executive in the new year, we still require some interim management arrangements

I will continue to act as Interim Chief Executive until that appointment is made

In summary, as a result of recent departures at senior level, we have reallocated responsibilities to ensure that key areas of work are effectively managed. 

This provides an opportunity to work towards some longer-term strategic goals regarding our staffing structure, including organisational flexibility, and improved focus on member engagement. 

We think that the changes set out above improve our ability to deliver our mission effectively and will help our talented people to fulfil their potential to deliver outstanding work for students’ unions and, through them, students.


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