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Meet the HESPA Executive

HESPA’s Executive is chaired by Lucy Hodson (Aberystwyth University) and comprises 16 active members from across the UK HE planning community, with support from our Executive Officer, Jennifer Summerton, and our Executive Secretary, Debbie Prysor (Aberystwyth University).

Giles Carden (University of Warwick) - With 18 years’ experience of working in the HE sector in both the UK and Germany, Giles has occupied a wide range of different roles at Warwick over the past 16 years, for example, in research services, the Vice Chancellor’s Office, strategic planning, space management and capital developments; he has also implemented major online registry systems. In 2006/7 he directed operations for the University’s RAE2008 return and has just fulfilled the same role in relation to the REF2014. When Giles became a Director 6 years ago he made it his priority to ensure that Warwick developed an advanced business analytics and performance management capability, his objective being to leverage competitive advantage and underpin strategy development and execution. Giles undertakes a number of national advisory roles, some as part of HESPA.

Steve Chadwick (University of Exeter)
- Graduating from the University of Exeter in 1979, Steve completed an MBA in 1989 and took up a post in the newly established Planning Support Office at Northumbria University, one of the first university planning offices in the country. In 1993 he moved to the University of Newcastle where he worked in the Planning and Resources Section of the Registrar’s Office, and established a new Management Information Unit in 2000. Steve took up post at Durham as Director of Strategic Planning and Change in June 2004 where he developed the University’s Strategic Plan, establishing its annual planning process, monitoring performance and heading up the Change Team which uses LEAN methodologies to drive efficiencies. Since April 2012 he has been Director of Strategic Planning and Change at the University of Exeter. At national level, Steve has been heavily involved in the development of HEIDI working closely with HESA and leading HEFCE and JISC funded projects. Steve is also a founder member of the HESPA Executive and has worked as a consultant in the UK and Middle East. Steve is married, speaks fluent Norwegian and is a frequent traveller to Scandinavia where he has a cabin on the Oslo fjord.

Christine Couper (University of Greenwich) - Christine is Director of Strategic Planning at the University of Greenwich. Christine has played an active role in HE Management at the sector level, participating in strategic reviews run by HEFCE and HESA. She is a member of the HEIDI Stakeholder Group and of the Times League Table Review Group. Christine has been on the HESPA Executive for three years and currently acts as liaison with HESA in relation to the development of educational activities for planners, and as the HESPA representative on the Advisory Panel for the Higher Education Data and Information Improvement Programme (HEDIIP).

Dr Helen Galbraith (University of Bristol) - Helen is Director of Planning and Deputy Secretary at the University of Bristol. She has worked at the University since 2000, previously holding roles in Research and Enterprise Development and in the University Registry. Her role encompasses strategic planning and business intelligence; governance and compliance, strategic projects and process improvement; and the provision of policy advice and executive support to the Vice-Chancellor and senior team. She completed a PhD in Russian Music in 2012.

Anna Grey (University of York) - Anna Grey began her career at the University of Bradford as the Examinations Officer and Faculty Secretary before joining the Planning Office. Since then she has worked at Durham, Hull and finally the University of York. She has undertaken various roles including teaching quality, HESA and HESES, examinations, admissions and benchmarking. For the last seven years she has been involved in research strategy and research performance but has a major interest in performance measurement.

Alison Hartrey (SOAS, University of London) - Ali has more than 20 years’ experience of working in higher education. She joined SOAS, University of London in 2001 as a member of the registry and became head of the newly formed Planning Department in 2008. The Department has responsibility for student numbers planning, faculty and professional services planning, strategic planning, key performance indicators, management information, HESES, a variety of HESA returns and the provision of marketing intelligence to underpin portfolio development.

Lucy Hodson (Aberystwyth University) - Lucy has been Director of Planning at Aberystwyth since November 2012, where she is a member of the University’s Executive and leads teams covering planning, governance and business information. From 2008 she was Director of Strategic Planning at De Montfort University. She was previously History Faculty Board Secretary at the University of Oxford, and Head of Administration at the Institute for Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine at Imperial College, London. Prior to that she worked in the charity and voluntary sectors in Inner City Birmingham and Liverpool. Lucy holds degrees from the Universities of Oxford and Birmingham. Alongside her role at Aberystwyth, she is currently working (intermittently) towards a PhD in International Relations at St Andrews University. Lucy has been Chair of the HESPA Executive since 2011. She is Chair of the Student Finance Wales Stakeholder Group. Her current favourite activity is watching 10,000 starlings flock to roost under Aber pier in the winter evenings.

Dr Craig Hutchinson-Howorth (Edgehill University) - Dr Craig Hutchinson-Howorth, Director of Strategic Planning at Edge Hill University is negotiating the rapidly changing sector that is Higher Education. Endeavouring to understand how Higher Education will develop over the next ten years and the impact this will have on the students, research and institutions. Hutchinson-Howorth has worked for over 20 years within the Higher Education sector, holding a number of managerial posts at Russell Group and Post 92 Universities. Previous experience was gained whilst working with the US Army and Department for Transport.

Alison Jones (University of Bradford) - Alison Jones is the Director of Planning and Governance at the University of Bradford, having previously been the Head of Strategic Planning at Leeds Metropolitan University. Alison has twenty years’ experience of working in higher education, ranging across strategic and operational planning, policy advice and guidance, corporate governance and project management and process improvement. Along with being a member of the HESPA Exec, Alison sits on the HESA Third Party Data Working Group and was a member of the HESA Longitudinal DLHE Steering Group. Alison is also a Trustee of a charity providing respite care for families with children with disabilities.

Jackie Njoroge (Manchester Metropolitan University) - Jackie has been leading the Strategic Planning and Management Information team within MMU for the last year, with a mandate to help change the strategic planning direction of the University. A qualified management accountant, Jackie had a career in financial planning and management within the steel industry, before moving into Higher Education in 2003, where she eventually moved into Strategic Planning and Performance, successfully leading the team to an industry award for the implementation of Northumbria’s business intelligence solution.

Rona Smith (University of Strathclyde) - Rona Smith joined the University of Strathclyde in January 2013 as Deputy Director of Strategy & Policy. Prior to that she worked for 9 years in different roles as part of the Governance and Strategic Planning team at the University of Edinburgh, following a number of years working in the NHS and in scientific publishing.

Gary Sprules (University of the Arts London) - Gary Sprules is Director of Planning at the University of the Arts, London (UAL) and prior to joining UAL in 2007 was Head of Management Information and Planning at the University of West London for over 8 years. A graduate of the University of Warwick, Gary has worked in the areas of planning and management information for over twenty years starting out in the NHS prior to joining the University sector in 1998. As part of his role on the HESPA Executive Gary was on the recent HESA review of Estates Management Statistics and represents HESPA on the IPSOS Mori NSS User Group.

Jennifer Summerton (HESPA Executive Officer) - Jen joins HESPA as its Executive Officer and Membership Development Manager following a post at Leicester University as Marketing and Communications Manager for their Residential and Commercial Services. She has worked in the HE sector since 2009 when she started at the University of Nottingham working as an International Officer. During this post she travelled extensively, recruiting world class students and assisting in the development of transnational academic partnerships and scholarships. Having started her career as a London-based journalist, she then moved to Islamabad, Pakistan to take up a voluntary position, via VSO, as an advocate for a local Human Rights NGO. Here she focused on Freedom of Information, religious tolerance and women’s rights. With two young daughters Jen is now UK-based, but continues to enjoy reading and learning about other cultures and belief systems, particularly Islam.

Sally Turnbull (University of Central Lancashire) - Sally is Corporate Strategy Manager at UCLan, leading a team which covers the full breadth of strategic and operational planning activities, including policy and data analysis, business intelligence, data assurance and market research. Sally also plays a coordinating role in relation to the University’s strategies and the KPIs used to assess progress. She is extremely partial to cherries and loves to dance the tango.

Dr Sonia Virdee (University of Essex) - Sonia is Director of Strategic Planning and Change at the University of Essex, and through this role she is also Deputy Secretary of the University supporting the work of Council. The Section oversees corporate governance, planning, and strategic projects and change. She has extensive experience in managing change at the strategic level with a track record in the wider HE sector and in international projects. Sonia sits on the executive of the Higher Education Strategic Planners Association and is a Fellow of the Association of University Administrators. Sonia started her career in research as a NERC fellow in the Department of Biological Sciences at UEA. She has published various research papers, undertaken PhD supervision and co-authored an undergraduate textbook. Her first taste of HE management was at Suffolk College where she worked first as part of a small team leading the growth in undergraduate students and laying the foundations for what is now University Campus Suffolk, and later as Head of Science.

Helen Watson (University of Oxford) - Helen joined the University of Oxford as Director of Planning and Resource Allocation in January 2011.  Previously, she worked for nine years at City University London in a variety of roles including Head of Administration for the School of Allied Health Sciences and Deputy Academic Registrar, before setting up and leading the new Strategy and Planning Unit.  Helen’s team at Oxford have a wide range of responsibilities including policy analysis, HEFCE liaison, capital planning, strategic and operational planning, resource allocation and co-ordinating Oxford’s REF submission.

Mike Wilson (Glyndwr University) - Mike has worked in Higher Education for 13 years, at Bangor University, and Glyndwr University, Wrexham. His current focus is development of management information to support strategic planning, development of KPIs, student number and tuition fee planning, and advising on the production of statutory data returns and onward use by third parties. Previous experiences include development of resource allocation models, and budget planning models. Mike is a member of the HESPA/HESA Use of HESA Data by Third Parties Working Group, and the HESA HEIDI Stakeholder Group. Mike has previously chaired the Higher Education Wales Student Returns Group. In his spare time Mike writes reviews and articles for music-related web sites and magazines.