Outside In: Leveraging External Perspectives in Higher Education

CANVAS Higher Education Edition 2023

We are delighted to share the latest Higher Education edition of our leadership insights publication – CANVAS.

The years since the pandemic began in 2020 have seen universities innovate, take risks and embrace new modes of working, as they respond to major and shifting challenges within an ever constrained funding and regulatory environment.  This trend is only partially true when it comes to the selection of leaders for senior roles.  Some university panels have – perhaps understandably – taken a more cautious approach to selection, whereas others have embraced a level of risk and made out-of-sector appointments or backed potential over experience.  It has been fascinating to observe this trend through our work.

There is perhaps more of an appetite now to test other talent pools for senior roles in higher education than ever before.  Shortlists for senior roles are becoming more sector-diverse, and, encouragingly, more diverse in general.  These trends will lead us as a sector to richer senior teams with more leadership breadth, and a wealth of experience to call upon.  Adjacent sectors will also benefit from the cross-pollination of talent, and it is possible that higher education and its myriad external partners, stakeholders and collaborators will benefit enormously in the long run.  This could add resilience in the face of the increasing headwinds in our sector.

In this edition of CANVAS, we are delighted to welcome two senior leaders, appointed by Saxton Bampfylde, who have stepped outside their sectors to take on strategic leadership roles: in one case from the private sector into higher education, and in another, from higher education into government. Both highlight how the diversity of thought and approach to leadership, organisation, governance and people can enhance and reap positive rewards.

We were delighted firstly to speak to Grainne Brankin, College Secretary and General Counsel at Imperial College London, as she approaches the end of her two years in the role in December 2023. Grainne’s stellar career has been predominantly within the private sector working for global law firms, plc and private equity businesses. Her move to Higher Education in early 2022 encouraged her to review and reset some expectations, as she transferred into a sector within its own unique model. She welcomes the collegiality from her peers across her institution and beyond.  Her ‘outside’ voice has been sought on an increasing basis and is now being embraced throughout the organisation.

We are also delighted to talk to Professor Jas Pal Badyal, who was appointed Chief Scientific Advisor to the Welsh Government in January 2023.  A Professor of Chemistry at Durham University Jas Pal has driven much collaboration between science, academia and business, resulting in significant patent applications from his department. Further to his academic work his passion for self-development and a desire to help others took Jas Pal to work in refugee camps where he used his scientific approach and planning to address a number of humanitarian challenges. He tells us how this wide-ranging experience, deep belief in science as a route to change society’s future for the better, and a commitment to engendering wide-ranging views all influenced his decision to take on this new role.

In this addition of CANVAS we are also very happy to introduce our colleague Dr Eugenia Gonzalez as she shares some personal snippets, as well as professional experience and snapshot insights into the sector. Eugenia joined the team as a consultant in 2022 and brings a wealth of experience in higher education executive search.



Read CANVAS – Higher Education 2023 


General Dental Council announces new Chief Executive and Registrar

Andrew Comben appointed new CEO of Britten Pears Arts

Dr Nicholas Cullinan OBE appointed as new Director of the British Museum

Saxton Bampfylde partners with Family Business UK

Professor Robert Mokaya appointed Provost and DVC at University of Sheffield

Celebrating International Women’s Day 2024

Steering the family business forward: Interview with Emma Fox, CEO of Berry Bros & Rudd

Leadership in the age of AI: CEO Breakfast with Doug Gurr, Director of the National History Museum

Sustainability Dinner with speaker James Cameron, Chair of Crown Agents

What will healthcare look like over the coming decade? Interview with Nigel Edwards

Middlesex University announces its new Vice-Chancellor

SafeLives appoints new CEO

Do the right thing: ESG in 2024 – Interview with Lisa Hart Shepherd, CEO of Lamp House Strategy

A Healthy Perspective Podcast – Helen Buckingham, Nuffield Trust

New GPhC Council members appointed for 2024 and 2025

RICS senior governance appointments

An Independent Mind: Sharpening the role of a law firm NED

CLCH appoints new Director of Strategy, Partnerships and Integration

Into Film appoints Fiona Evans as new CEO

An evening for current and aspiring non-executives with Kenny Imafidon

V&A announces Director of Collections and Chief Curator

RNLI appoints new leader to take charity into third century of lifesaving

Erika Lewis appointed CEO at Connected Places Catapult

Alex Frazer Announced as the New Head of Bancroft’s

Sue Baillie appointed as Woldingham’s new Head

Royal Hospital School appoints new Head

The University of Manchester appoints Professor Duncan Ivison as next President & Vice-Chancellor

Championing the Mission – Interview with Jonathan Morgan

Quadrant Chambers appoints Sarah Longden as new COO

New Oasis Community Learning Chief Executive Announced

Rachel Kent made Financial Regulators Complaints Commissioner

Steering the family business forward: Interview with Paul Drechsler CBE

Indhu Rubasingham appointed as Director of the National Theatre

Northumbria University, Newcastle appoints new members to Board of Governors

Professor Tom Crick joins DCMS as Chief Scientific Adviser

Norwich Theatre appoints Tom Sleigh as new Chair

MOSL announces Cliff Kamara as new Board member

Saxton Bampfylde welcomes Partner Hannah Scarisbrick back to the firm

Saxton Bampfylde ranked in Financial Times UK’s Leading Recruiters 2024

The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Foundation and Association Welcomes Martin Houghton-Brown as Secretary General

Royal British Legion Announces New Director General

English Heritage announces New Blue Plaques Panel Members

Paul Ridd named Director of Edinburgh International Film Festival

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra announces Lord Tony Hall as new Chair

Team Consulting appoints new CEO

UK Civil Aviation Authority Appoints Rob Bishton as the new Chief Executive

The Box appoints Rebecca Bridgman as Head of Collections and Programme

English Heritage appoints Dr Nick Merriman as its new Chief Executive

Breadth and depth: leading across the regulatory landscape

Who’s Moving in Healthcare – August-September 2023

Wise counsel: bringing an external perspective to Higher Education

Looking through a different lens: a scientific scope from academia to government

Samori Gambrah announced as Chair for New Art Exchange

Chris Auty appointed as new Director at London Film School

Cherian Mathews appointed as new Chief Executive of HelpAge International

Dr Dave Smith takes helm as UK’s National Technology Adviser

Now Teach appoints new CEO

A Healthy Perspective Podcast – David Hare MBE, CEO of Independent Healthcare Providers Network

Dr Paul Thompson appointed as British Council Chair

Appointment of new CEO for GLF Schools

Bas Javid appointed new Director General of Immigration Enforcement

New CEO appointed for the UK’s national synchrotron, Diamond Light Source

University of Nottingham appoints new Pro-Vice-Chancellor for its Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences

Béatrice Butsana-Sita appointed new CEO of the British Red Cross

Michael Plaut OBE announced as new Chair of Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama

Will Gompertz announced as the Soane’s new Director

Who’s Moving in Healthcare – June-July 2023

Dr Ghazwa Alwani-Starr appointed as new COO at University of Bath

PA Housing announces five new non-executive members to join board

Storyhouse appoints new CEO: Annabel Turpin

Claire Wood Hill announced as new CEO of The National Brain Appeal

OnBoard Programme broadens the horizon for board membership

James Williams announced as the next Director of the Royal College of Music

A Healthy Perspective Podcast – Sam Jones

#7 Road to Recovery: Integration, inclusion and innovation in the Healthcare sector

Who’s Moving in Healthcare – April-May 2023

SCIS appoints new Chief Executive

Talk with Sir Stephen Wall to celebrate Pride 2023

Celebrating Volunteers’ Week 2023

Celebrating the Contribution of Trustees from Underrepresented Backgrounds to the Arts: Launch Event

A Healthy Perspective Podcast – Nick Costa, UK CEO at Ramsay Healthcare

Challenging Crisis: Learning lessons in Leadership – Charlotte Hill OBE, CEO at The Felix Project

#6 Road to Recovery: Integration, inclusion and innovation in the Healthcare sector

The Air Ambulance Service appoints new Chief Executive

New Director of Tate Modern appointed

BBC News announces new senior appointments

Hosting Panorama’s Global Researcher Conference 2023

A Healthy Perspective Podcast – James Tugendhat, CEO at HC-One

George Watson’s College announces New Principal for August 2024

Iain Conn to chair EngineeringUK

Eunomia appoints sustainability change-maker as inaugural CEO

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra appoints new CEO

Build better places with people at the core: Interview with Neil Sachdev

New Director appointed at The Foundling Museum

Jesse Jones announced as new Artistic Director at Northampton’s Royal & Derngate

New Headteacher announced for Aylesbury High School

St Aloysius’ College appoints Patrick Doyle as Head of the College

Celebrating International Women’s Day 2023

Our future in our hands: creating lasting and shared prosperity for the nation

The anatomy of effective regulation leadership – Jonathan Morgan on The Regulation Podcast