Appointment of the Director of Human Resources


Thank you for your interest in joining St Mary’s University as our new Director of Human Resources.

At St Mary’s, we are dedicated to preparing our students for flourishing lives and successful careers within a community of mutual respect. We aspire to enable every student to achieve their full potential, through outstanding support for their learning and giving them a broad and rich experience.

We pride ourselves on being an academic community which values positive human relationships, promoting belonging and supporting individuals to be the best version of themselves.

In challenging times, we continue to thrive, achieving real progress and success in student satisfaction and community impact. We recently climbed to our highest ever position in the 2022 Good University Guide while ranking 18th nationally for overall satisfaction in the 2021 National Student Survey. Our community is characterised by trust among staff and students, and our core values of respect, inclusion, generosity of spirit and excellence.

We are now seeking to appoint a Director of Human Resources to continue the development and implementation of our people strategy, ensuring that the University’s strategic aims are supported and enabled through the provision and application of innovative HR and OD services. Reporting to me, the Director will lead our HR and OD teams, working in partnership with departments across the University, championing a culture of positivity and inclusivity and supporting a wide range of activity, from staff engagement to change management.

You will be CIPD-qualified with experience of leading an HR function. You will be able to evidence a track record of implementing successful HR and OD strategies that have led to a measurable improvement in performance and engagement. You will thrive in an environment that is characterised by complexity and change. Whilst prior higher education sector experience is not essential, you will ideally bring experience of leading employee relations in a unionised environment.

If you are excited about the prospect of joining St Mary’s, then we do hope you will express an interest in the Director of Human  Resources role.

You can find out more about the University and the Director of Human Resources role on this site and our advising consultants at Anderson Quigley would be pleased to discuss the role with you.

Jo Blunden
Chief Operating Officer

About us

Established in 1850 and with a deep heritage in education, St Mary’s University, Twickenham has a strong reputation for teaching excellence and a student-centred approach. Our aim is to prepare students for flourishing lives, successful careers and social commitment through excellent, research-enriched teaching in a community of mutual respect based on our Catholic ethos and values.

Developing and enhancing partnerships is important and we work with other universities at home and abroad, dioceses and institutions, local FE colleges and many schools across the UK. With nearly 5,000 students, 700 staff, and a turnover of £52 million, the University makes significant contributions to our local community and wider society, empowering our community to have a positive impact on the world.

Key Achievements and highlights

  • Top Ten in UK for Teaching Quality 2022 Good University Guide
  • Top 5 in UK for Student Experience 2022 Good University Guide
  • 2nd in London for student satisfaction 2021 NSS
  • Highest ever position in the Good University Guide, sitting in top half for first time
  • 98% of graduates are in employment, vocation or further study within 15 months (HESA 2020)
  • 6% ahead of sector average for student experience 2021 NSS
  • Ofsted Outstanding assessment of our Primary and Secondary ITE provision for over ten years

We are an inclusive Catholic university seeking to develop the whole person and empower our community to have a positive impact on the world.

Our students and staff are at the heart of everything we do. We are an inclusive university, open to those of all faiths and none, and a local institution in a global city, serving a growing and richly diverse student community in locations both real and virtual.

Rooted in our Catholic Foundation, with the value of the human person at its heart, our values set us apart, shape our behaviour and inform all our decisions in a university that responds to the demands of today.

We celebrate differences and welcome diversity, recognising that everyone is born with a unique identity. St Mary’s is a place where all students and staff can reach their full potential and make a positive contribution to society.

Generosity of Spirit
Across the University there’s a strong sense of encouragement, collegiality, empathy, helpfulness, and service to others.

We respect all and treat everyone as we ourselves would want to be treated.

We strive to be the best at everything we do. We set high standards and seek continuous improvement in all our practices and work.

Please see the following link for the University management structure.

Vision 2030: The Future of St Mary’s

St Mary’s is committed to providing our students with a transformational experience. Offering strong support and challenging goals whilst they study with us and opportunities to be part of the wider St Mary’s community beyond their time here, we want our students to be highly skilled, informed and civically engaged. Vision 2030 sets out how we will do this, building on the successes of the past and setting our direction for the coming years.

To achieve our Vision, we have identified five Pillars that will support our strategy.

  1. Achieving Student Success: With a rich history in education, St Mary’s is committed to high quality delivery in education, research and the wider student experience. We will continue to provide an outstanding academic, sporting and social experience, to ensure our students flourish while they are with us, and beyond.
  2. Developing our People: We seek to empower our staff to reach their full potential by developing a supportive, inclusive, collaborative and inspiring working environment. We want our staff and leadership to reflect and encompass the diversity of our student body and the wider community.
  3. Driving Growth: Through growth we can reach more students, employers and communities, and ensure the University’s sustainable future. We will expand our applied and professional programmes and offer more flexible ways to learn.
  4. Developing Partnerships: We will identify organisations with whom we can work with to deliver shared goals. We will share our knowledge and expertise with other universities, further education colleges, and civic and sporting organisations at home and abroad.
  5. Enhancing our sense of Place: We treasure our historic campus and will continue to develop it as a safe space and to guard it for future generations. We will open up our work to the public and strive to have a positive impact in our local community. We will play a dynamic role in the educational, cultural, sporting, and economic life of south-west London.

Foundations to success

In order to achieve our Vision, we need to ensure that we adopt key strategies and develop new processes to provide the essential foundations for our success.

We will continuously improve our operations to ensure a sustainable future by:

Financial Sustainability: Our long-term financial plan has created, and will continue to provide, a stable foundation for our strategic objectives. In order to release funds for investment we will continue to pursue this plan.

Integrated Strategic Planning: an evidence-based planning process will bring together strategic aims, staffing plans and budget needs, in the context of a medium-term planning horizon.

We will enhance the staff and student experience through digital transformation:

Better Systems and Processes: building on investment in technology we need to ensure that our data is joined up, and that we streamline processes for staff to free up time for delivering core teaching activities.

Digital Teaching and Learning: We will continue to develop our capacity and approach, ensuring that our offer is driven by student need and preference.

We will improve efficiency across the University:

Bureaucracy is frustrating for everyone. We’ve made some useful changes to internal governance, but we will work with staff to identify more opportunities. We will also improve communication and collaboration to enhance the staff and student experience. We’ll turn to our Board of Governors, Development Board and advisory boards for insights into best practice.

You can read more about our Vision 2030 here.

The role

Director of Human Resources

Job reference:

Job title: Director of Human Resources
Department: Human Resources 
Reports to: Chief Operating Officer
Salary: Dependent on experience
Hours: Full time – At this level the post holder will be expected to work flexibly, including evening and weekends as necessary.
Term: Permanent

Since 1850, St Mary’s mission has been to provide a high-quality professional environment, inspired by its distinctive ethos and values. The University is an inclusive academic community, where everybody is welcomed.

As the University builds on its proud heritage, it will be looking for exceptional people to help shape its progressive future.

The Human Resources team works in partnership with departments and individuals across the University. Drawing on our professionalism, expertise and knowledge, our responsibilities range from staff empowerment to change facilitation. In everything we do, we champion a culture of positivity and inclusivity.

To view the current HR Organisational chart, please click here.

Job purpose

  • Provide leadership, motivation and effective management of the HR & OD Department.
  • Support the achievement of the University’s Vision 2030 through the provision of efficient, high-quality, proactive services which meet the needs of the University and its staff.
  • Provide strategic leadership and expertise with the aim of developing employee engagement and creating a high-performing leadership culture.
  • Provide strategic and operational leadership of the staff equality, diversity and inclusion agenda, including supporting the University EDI Charters.
  • Provide leadership in staffing impact as part of business continuity planning and crisis management.
  • Lead the drive to actively identify and manage talent through the University People Strategy.

Main duties and responsibilities

Leadership and strategic responsibilities

  • Ensure the University’s Vision 2030 is supported and enabled across the University through the continued development and implementation of the five-year People Strategy.
  • Provide a solution-based approach to the senior leadership team by the application of appropriate interventions.
  • Act as a strategic HR Partner to the Senior Leadership Team and Board of Governors as appropriate.
  • In line with the five-year People strategy, lead the approach to the promotion of equality, diversity and inclusion of staff and the promotion of a diverse and inclusive culture.
  • Further develop a culture of positive leadership behaviours, ownership and engagement where all staff feel empowered, supported and trusted to perform to the best of their ability.
  • Role model and lead by example in respect of University values, anticipate and act as the facilitator to uncover areas requiring improvement and identify both short-term benefits and longer-term change solutions.
  • Develop and implement high quality policies, procedures and practices that are simple, fair and transparent while ensuring they are accessible and fully compliant.
  • Lead the drive for all people processes to continue the drive for full automation, with the aim of reducing the bureaucratic burden for both HR and staff.
  • Ensure that the HR Team is led by example, motivated and developed to continue its aspiration to operate as a high-performing team.

Operational responsibilities

  • Ensure a high-quality employee life-cycle experience by the delivery of a seamless, customer-focused, valuable, efficient and professional service to the University at all times.
  • Keep abreast of external developments within the government, the higher education sector and wider employment legislation and emerging best practice, assess their implications, and evaluate the impact and make recommendations for potential change or enhancement within the University, as appropriate.
  • Support and encourage an environment of positive leadership with underpinning proactive OD interventions.
  • Ensure the that staff data is accurately captured, maintained and stored in line with GDPR legislation.
  • Support the University and Department heads through the production of People Packs, wider analytics and reporting to enable data-driven decision making.
  • Be accountable for meeting all statutory obligations arising from the management of Human Resources on behalf of the University, including gender and ethnicity pay gap reporting and the HESA staff return.
  • Plan, coordinate and lead on the people aspect of projects across the University to ensure optimal success.
  • Work closely with senior leaders to proactively plan, advise and support change, ensuring that people and financial impact is fully considered and communicated throughout the process.
  • Develop effective working relationships with a wide variety of stakeholders, both internal and external, including further developing and maintaining relationships with the recognised Unions.
  • Ensure that all external providers and services used by the department are managed appropriately, ensuring service level agreements are met and that they provide value for money for the University.
  • Plan and manage the HR Department resources and budget in accordance with the University priorities and financial regulations, and ensure that procurement procedures are followed at all times.
  • Provide support and oversee the process of the annual University Promotions Committee.
  • Attend and Chair internal and external working groups or Committees as required by the Chief Operating Officer.
  • Undertake any other activities, as reasonably requested, by the Chief Operating Officer.


Knowledge and qualifications                                                                               

  1. CIPD qualified with up to date knowledge of human resource management .
  2. Experience of leading a successful HR service.
  3. Experience of developing and implementing a successful HR/People strategy that delivered a measurable improvement through key performance indicators and wider organisational performance.
  4. Experience in leading, developing and delivering significant projects successfully, delivering measurable benefits to the organisation.
  5. A track record of advising on contentious and complex ER issues up to and including at Board level.
  6. Evidence of successfully leading and managing complex change programmes.
  7. Extensive employment law knowledge and understanding of best practice.
  8. A track record of bringing improvements to systems and practices within an HR department with the result of a better customer experience.
  9. Experience of working within a Unionised environment.
  10. Experience of managing overseas employees (desirable).
  11. Experience of working within the Higher Education sector (desirable).

Skills and competencies

  1. The ability to create a positive team environment where staff at all levels are encouraged to develop and excel.
  2. Excellent verbal and written communication with the ability to tailor communication to different audiences.
  3. Highly developed stakeholder management skills with the ability to facilitate change and resolve conflict.
  4. Outstanding organisational skills and flexibility with an ability to work to deadlines.
  5. Personal resilience and emotional intelligence.
  6. Ability to work under pressure and manage a large, complex workload.

University policies and procedures

All staff are expected to undertake their work in an inclusive, fair, safe and respectful manner, particular consideration should be given to the University values.

St Mary’s University reserves the right to change and amend this job description/person specification in accordance with the changing requirements of the organisation.

You can download a copy of this Job Description and Person Specification by clicking here.


St Mary’s University is located in Twickenham, which is just half an hour by train from the heart of London. This gives both staff and students access to the best of both worlds: a dynamic, bustling city and a tranquil, riverside suburb, with excellent schools and facilities. Many staff and students choose to work and study at St Mary’s because of its prime location.

 A snapshot of the local area

A leafy, suburban neighbourhood, Twickenham is a mixture of period houses, formal gardens and parks surrounding King Street, the town’s centre. Twickenham offers many traditional pubs and restaurants, with many diverse cuisines. Church Street runs adjacent to the river and comprises cafés, boutiques, small bookshops, and a church.

The lively riverside towns of Kingston and Richmond are a short bus ride away from the University. Throughout the day, the towns attract visitors who come to enjoy the shopping centres, cinemas, restaurants, live music venues, bars, and theatres. Teddington, just along the road from the University, was recently named “the best place to live in London” by the Sunday Times.

Outdoor spaces

Marble Hill Park in East Twickenham is a charming local park and the setting of Marble Hill House, a Venetian villa built for a mistress of George II and now a local landmark. Just a short stroll along a peaceful riverside road into secluded woodland gardens is Orleans House Gallery, a stunning 18th century house and gardens which now serves as an art gallery, hosting regular exhibitions and workshops.

St Mary’s is close to two of London’s eight royal parks. Both Richmond Park and Bushy Park, where Parkrun started, offer staff and students hundreds of acres of beautiful, secluded woodland for get-away-from-it-all walks, as well as space for cycling and running.

Twickenham and the adjacent River Thames also provide lots of opportunities for outdoor activities.

Culture, history and heritage

Flood Lane and Church Lane lead down to the river where you can enjoy a drink in one of the riverside pubs or cross the bridge on to Eel Pie Island. Many musicians began their careers or played sets at the Eel Pie Island Hotel and recorded material at Eel Pie Studios.

In 2017, St Mary’s became the proud operator of The Exchange in Twickenham – a newly built community venue that boasts a 300-seat theatre, six studio rooms, a café and a bar. St Mary’s students benefit from teaching and training at the site, with drama students staging performances in the theatre.

The Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew, Henry VIII’s Hampton Court Palace, museums, galleries and other historic houses open to the public are also among unique features of the local area. On St Mary’s campus itself is Strawberry Hill House, Horace Walpole’s Gothic Revival villa.


The rugby capital of the world, Twickenham Stadium is the home of the Rugby Football Union. Seating 82,000, it is the 5th largest stadium in Europe and hosts the Six Nations matches and the Rugby World Cup, as well as the annual varsity match between rival universities Oxford and Cambridge. The prestigious matches attract fans from around the globe who celebrate in Twickenham’s pubs and bars, creating an unrivalled atmosphere. The area is also home to Harlequins and London Irish rugby clubs.

The stadium has a state-of-the-art fitness centre attached, as well as a world-renowned rugby museum. The stadium is also regularly used as a venue for concerts.

Find out more at

Terms of appointment

The salary is dependent on experience and will be negotiated with the preferred candidate.

Holiday entitlement is 30 days annual leave, with the option to purchase an additional five days per annum, plus public holidays and University closure days between Christmas and New Year.

The successful candidate will be eligible to join the St Mary’s University Pension Plan and Group Life Assurance with Aviva.

St Mary’s offer a range of additional benefits including the Cycle2Work scheme, season ticket loan and on-site gym and sports facilities at a discounted rate.

More information on employee benefits can be found at

We promote applications from all sections of the community, irrespective of background, belief or identity, recognising the benefits that a diverse organisation can bring and particularly encourage applications from groups which are underrepresented in the University workforce.

We recognise the benefits and importance of an environment that supports flexible working and are open to conversations about this throughout the application process.

How to apply

Anderson Quigley is acting as an advisor to St Mary’s University. An executive search process is being carried out by Anderson Quigley in addition to the public advertisement.

Should you wish to discuss the role in strict confidence, please contact our advising consultants at Anderson Quigley:

The closing date for applications is noon on Friday 2 September 2022.

Applications should consist of:

  • A full CV.
  • A covering letter (maximum of 2 pages) setting out your interest in the role and details of how you match the knowledge and qualifications criteria of the person specification.
  • Please include current salary details and the names and addresses of two referees. Referees will not be approached until the final stages and not without prior permission from candidates.
  • Please complete the following online Equal Opportunities Monitoring Form.

Completed applications should be uploaded at using the reference AQ1541.