The Appointment of the Vice President and Chief People Officer

Queen's University Belfast


Thank you for your interest in joining Queen’s University Belfast as our Vice President & Chief People Officer.

With roots dating back to 1810, Queen’s University Belfast has been making a positive difference to society and its own communities for more than two centuries. Today, employing over 4,500 staff and a member of the Russell Group, Universities UK and Universities Ireland, Queen’s is one of the leading research-focused universities in the UK and on the island of Ireland.  Our research and teaching are widely accredited internationally. 88% of our staff are engaged in world-leading or internationally excellent research with Queen’s ranked 198 in the 2023 Times Higher Education World University Rankings.

The University’s iconic and well-invested campus is primarily located in the south of the city where we have just opened our new £42m Student Centre. Our 25,000 student body includes 4,200 international students drawn from some 90 countries. When it comes to future graduate employment, Queens ranks 12th in the UK. Queen’s contribution to the local and regional economy of Northern Ireland is currently estimated at over £3 billion annually.

As we embark upon our exciting Strategy 2030, we are now seeking to appoint a Chief People Officer (CPO) to contribute to the University’s growth and cultural development at the heart of which will be our People Strategy. Reporting to me, the CPO will lead the creation of a vibrant and agile culture across Queens’ three faculties, fifteen schools, several centres and institutes and range of professional services.

Priorities are driving high individual and collective performance through staff engagement, enhancing service delivery, optimising business partnering and raising the bar when it comes to staff health and wellbeing.

Candidates will bring wide-ranging strategic people leadership experience and a strong track record of delivering service transformation. High level communication and relationship management skills will be essential, as will experience of supporting and developing high performing teams.

The Equality, Diversity and Inclusion agenda at Queen’s is ambitious and the CPO will need to demonstrate their own commitment, understanding and creativity, working collaboratively with the institution’s EDI Champion, operational EDI staff, students and the wider community.

You can find out more about the role on this website and our advising consultants at Anderson Quigley would be pleased to discuss the role with you – their details can also be found on this site.

If you have the skills, experience and passion we are looking for, then we look forward to hearing from you.

Yours faithfully

Professor Ian Greer
President and Vice-Chancellor

About us

Queen’s University Belfast is one of the leading universities in the UK and Ireland with a distinguished heritage and history.

Founded in 1845 as Queen’s College Belfast, we became an independent university in 1908. Today, we are ranked 198 in the world (Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2023), and are a member of the Russell Group of UK research intensive universities, combining excellence in research and education with a student-centred ethos.

You can read more about our ranking and reputation here.

Strategy 2030

Strategy 2030 sets out our ambition for the next ten years to Shape A Better World through life-changing education and research.

Our vision is to be a global research-intensive university, generating internationally leading research coupled with outstanding teaching and learning, focused on the needs of our society, locally and globally.

You can find out more about our vision for 2030 here.

Faculty structure

The University is organised into three Faculties, each led by a Pro Vice-Chancellor, and there are 15 Schools, each led by a Head of School. You can read more about our Faculties and School below:


School of Arts, English and Languages

School of History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics

School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work

School of Law

Queen’s University Management School


School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

School of Natural and Built Environment

School of Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences

School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering

School of Mathematics and Physics

School of Psychology


School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences

School of Biological Sciences

School of Pharmacy

School of Nursing and Midwifery

A world class education and student experience

At Queen’s we offer a world-class education that prepares our students for leadership and citizenship in a global society.

Our inspiring alumni comprises outstanding scholars, Nobel Prize winners – such as Seamus Heaney and David Trimble – and influential leaders who are making an impact in Northern Ireland and across the globe.

Our students enjoy being educated by world-leading academics working at the forefront of their disciplines and a significant investment in the student experience has resulted in high levels of student satisfaction.

Over 96% of Queen’s graduates are in employment or further study six months after graduation; our graduates are dominating senior leadership positions in 80 of Northern Ireland’s top 100 companies, and making a difference in over 120 countries.

Outstanding research

Our researchers are at the forefront of discovery and innovation, with ambitious projects to address global problems and make a difference to society worldwide.

We are renowned for our strengths in enterprise and innovation, and were ranked 1st in the UK as the most entrepreneurial university in 2019 and 2020 (Octopus Ventures Impact Rankings).

99% of our research environment is world-leading or internationally excellent (REF 2021).

Leaders in innovation and impact

Queen’s is a driver of innovation and talent based on excellence. We are globally connected and networked with strategic partnerships across the world, helping us to expand our impact on wider society locally, nationally and globally.

We are leaders in commercial impact and are in the top five UK universities for revenue generated from research commercialisation – £71m. Through QUBIS Ltd, our commercial arm, we have created over 80 spin-out companies. Three of these companies (Kainos, Andor Technology and Fusion Antibodies) have been publicly listed on the London Stock Exchange.

We are number one in the UK for our participation in Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP). A recent report by London Economics found that Queen’s contributes £1.9billion to the UK economy, employing 3,700 staff and supporting a further 2,750 jobs across the UK.

A global and inclusive university community

Queen’s is ranked 22nd in the world for international outlook and is attracting global talent to Belfast.*

We currently have staff and students from over 80 countries, helping to create a multicultural and vibrant campus. They are joining a university that is committed to attracting, retaining and developing the best global talent within an environment that enables them to realise their full potential.

An innovative, welcoming and inclusive place to work and study, Queen’s is a leader in gender equality and diversity. We are one of the UK’s most successful universities in the Athena SWAN initiative which promotes gender equality and career progression. We currently have three Gold, six Silver and six Bronze departmental awards, as well as an Institutional Silver award.

You can read more about our diversity and inclusion here.

*Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2019

Investing in the future

The UK’s ninth oldest university, Queen’s blends its proud heritage with cutting-edge facilities for the best experience of University life.

Our £700m investment in facilities is transforming the University campus, expanding an environment that stimulates, enables and supports world-class education and research.

This has included the development of a state-of-the-art Graduate School, which is home to a thriving postgraduate community; the award-winning McClay Library; a new Computer Science Building; a School of Law; and the Wellcome-Wolfson Institute for Experimental Medicine.

The University has also invested in sporting facilities, new purpose-built student accommodation in Belfast City Centre and a world-class Student Centre, including a new Students’ Union facility.

Our University commitment to sustainability

As a global institution, we have a major role to play in making a positive impact in our environment.

Our Strategy 2030 sets out how we will embed the UN Sustainable Development Goals across all our activities, from research and education to adopting a leadership role in the promotion of the SDGs, and leading by example in areas such as equality, diversity and inclusion, sustainable procurement and a commitment to disinvestment from fossil fuels.

We are a signatory to the UN Accord, which recognises the key role that global universities have in nurturing a culture of sustainability and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030 through research and education.

We are committed to reducing our environmental impact, having invested £10 million to date in over 80 energy efficiency projects and we are currently developing the next stage of our carbon strategy.

You can find out more about sustainability at Queen’s here.

Northern Ireland’s legendary beauty

Queen’s University is situated in Belfast, the capital city of Northern Ireland.

A city with innovation at its heart, technological advances infiltrate every sector helping to build our competitiveness on the global stage. There are almost 900 international companies located in Northern Ireland, making Belfast the second most successful city in the UK (after London) for attracting US trade.

There’s plenty happening outside the city, including the famous filming locations for the HBO series Game of Thrones, the awe-inspiring Giant’s Causeway, voted the UK’s best Heritage Attraction, and the Mourne Mountains, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty canonised as CS Lewis’ Narnia.

You can read more about living in Northern Ireland here.

Annual Report 2020-21

The report highlights many of our achievements as a University community and our impact across education, research and society, both locally and internationally, as well as our ambitious plans for the future.

You can read our 2020-21 report here.

About People and Culture

As part of our ongoing HR Transformation, we have renamed the Directorate People and Culture, reflecting the way in which this department – and the wider University – puts its people at the centre of everything we do. This is a milestone step that complements our revised structure and new service delivery model, both of which enable us to provide a consistent HR Service for managers that is quicker and easier to use.

Our People and Culture Strategy, People First, has three interconnected pillars: Employee Experience, Culture and Talent. These recognise that providing an attractive experience for our people, and developing them to their full potential in a culture which they enjoy, will allow us to become an Employer of Choice and attract the best world-class talent.

View our organisational structure here.

The role

Vice President and Chief People Officer (AQ1633)


Job title: Vice President and Chief People Officer
Department/School/Unit: People and Culture
Report to: The President and Vice-Chancellor


The Vice President and Chief People Officer (hereafter referred to as the CPO) reports to the President and Vice-Chancellor (hereafter referred to as the VC) and, as a collegiate member of the University Management Board, will play a leading role in the development and delivery of the University’s vision and strategic corporate plan.

The CPO has prime responsibility for the development and delivery of a People Strategy integral to the corporate plan and for delivering a People Plan consistent with those priorities. The People Strategy will create a vibrant organisational culture based on our core values and enable all our people to thrive. There should be a continued focus on high performance, staff health and wellbeing, individual and collective development and staff engagement. The University will play a sector-leading role in promoting and securing the opportunities and benefits presented by a positive Equality, Diversity and Inclusion agenda. The CPO will work closely with the institution’s EDI Champion, overseeing the staff EDI operational team within People and Culture.

The CPO will work in tandem with the Vice President for Strategic Engagement and External Affairs to develop and embed a comprehensive Communications Strategy and effective operational structure, focusing particularly on internal staff communications.

Major duties:

  • Reporting to the President and Vice-Chancellor and working in close collaboration with colleagues on University Management Board, play a leading role in the delivery of Strategy 2030.
  • Working with and coaching the executive leadership team to lead the University through transformational change in support of growth ambitions and Strategy 2030 priorities.
  • Lead, develop and coach the People and Culture leadership team.
  • Direct and deliver a People Strategy and Plan which provide strong organisation development support to the University as a whole, drives staff engagement, enhances staff performance and development, infuses ever improving ways of working and strengthens the University’s reputation and attractiveness as an employer of choice.
  • Develop and implement creative and innovative policies and procedures which are legislatively sound, reflect best practice and provide a basis for positive employee relations. Oversee employee relations practices and trade union relationships, playing a leading role in trade union engagement at a local and regional level.
  • Play a leading role in the development of an effective internal staff communication model and maintain close engagement with the Corporate Communications team and its activities.
  • Through continuous improvement, optimise service delivery and specialist People administrative processes and procedures in support of both the academic community and other professional services. In so doing, the People and Culture Department will adopt a client-led approach which features empowerment and devolved responsibility.
  • Provide an enhanced recruitment and resourcing service to the University which balances quality, reliability, speed and cost, and eliminates unnecessary administrative burden on both People and Culture and client groups. This should embrace digitalisation where possible. The University should aim to put in place competitive resourcing practices which enhance its reputation.
  • Embed and enhance a strategic and customer-focused Business Partner approach within People and Culture and with the support and engagement of client groups.
  • Develop, manage and maintain appropriate management information systems which consistently provide reliable and timely workforce analytics, contribute to planning and facilitate the self-service access to and use of data and processes. Optimise the potential of the HR system.
  • Develop a Reward and Recognition Strategy and Plan which enhances competitiveness in the University’s various employment markets, attracting and retaining staff and contributing to staff performance and career growth.
  • Contribute to the development of a proactive Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy and policies which reflect developing EDI best practice, engaging and working closely with staff and the student body/ services on areas of mutual interest and synergy. Manage the University’s staff EDI team.
  • The CPO will work closely with the institution’s EDI Champion who will be responsible for legal compliance with all aspects of the University’s statutory equality reporting responsibilities in respect of Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998, and all related equality legislation, mandatory EDI training for all staff and the operational management of the EDI team.
  • Promote the University’s commitment to staff health and wellbeing, optimising the delivery of the Occupational Health Service and developing a new, innovative Staff Health and Wellbeing Strategy and associated policies and practices through the engagement of University management, staff and their representatives.
  • Obtain approval for and manage the annual People and Culture budget. Ensure the function’s risk profile is well monitored, risks identified and efficiently addressed.
  • Develop and promote effective working relationships with a wide range of key stakeholders, both internal and external. This will include members of staff, members of the Governing Body and trade union representatives, along with high level officials from a range of government, statutory and academic bodies.
  • Provide strategic and professional advice to the University’s Remuneration Committee and Standing Committee.Participate fully as a member of the Planning and Finance Committee.
  • Represent the University externally and foster network relationships with external bodies such as UCEA, the Russell Group and Universities HR.



  1. First degree together with full membership of the CIPD and strong evidence of continuing professional development.
  2. Significant experience in HR leadership, gained at a senior level within a large HR function in a large and complex organisation.
  3. Experience of developing and delivering a successful People/HR strategy.
  4. Comprehensive experience of all HR disciplines: employee relations; equality, diversity and inclusion; organisational development; reward; resourcing; performance management; policy development and service delivery.
  5. Strong and inclusive leadership skills with the proven ability to work cross-functionally at senior management level.
  6. Track record of developing and leading a high performance HR team.
  7. Excellent grasp of effective organisational and culture change; able to demonstrate significant impact and achievement.
  8. An innovator who can show a good understanding of developing and best HR practice.
  9. Outstanding communication and relationship management skills, and high emotional intelligence.


  1. Working knowledge of the higher education sector. Candidates may have experience as head of function in a smaller institution or as a direct report or number two in a larger university. Well networked within higher education.
  2. Commercially adept and financially literate. One who contributes across the broad responsibilities and activities of a University leadership team.
  3. Fully conversant with the Ulrich model of business partnering with demonstrable record of delivering a highly effective HRBP team.
  4. Preference will be given to applicants who can demonstrate a high level of commitment to, and working knowledge of, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion and familiarity with equality and employment legislation specific to Northern Ireland.

Terms of appointment


Base salaries are market related, currently benchmarked against the Russell Group and wider market practices are considered to ensure competitiveness.

Salaries are reviewed annually and a market-related cost of living adjustment usually implemented in August.


Senior staff are eligible to participate in a bonus scheme which is based on corporate and individual performance standards.


Membership of the Universities Superannuation Scheme (known as USS) is available.  Individual contribution is 9.8% of base salary and the university contributes 21.6%.


The University provides assistance to new employees who relocate to Northern Ireland to take up a role at Queen’s.

A relocation allowance of £1,000 plus 20% of the basic annual starting salary is payable.

Costs relating to disposal and acquisition of accommodation, transport of household and personal effects as well as travel and subsistence costs are generally covered by the relocation allowance.

Annual leave

The University’s annual leave year runs from 1 January – 31 December:

All staff are entitled to 23 days’ annual leave and in addition 9 University recognised/public holidays which normally are:  New Year’s Day; St Patrick’s Day; Good Friday; Easter Monday; 1st Monday in May; 12 and 13 July; Christmas Day; Boxing Day.

In addition there are 10 closure days (based on 5 days at Easter and 5 days at Christmas).

Special leave 

The University provides leave in the following instances:

  • Maternity leave
  • Work life balance policies e.g. Adoption leave; Career break; Dependant leave Flexible working; Parental leave; Paternity leave
  • Jury service
  • Auxiliary forces
  • Sabbatical leave (academic staff)
  • Study leave
  • Time off for trade union activities

Sickness absence 

Staff absent due to sickness are entitled to paid sick leave, ranging from 2 weeks full and 2 weeks half pay during the first 3 months of employment, increasing up to 6 months full and 6 months half pay after 5 years’ service.

Other benefits 

QUB offers a range of other benefits, including child care, travel to work cycle scheme, discount offers through Edenred and wellness opportunities across a range of options.

Flexible / agile work arrangements can be agreed to allow for hybrid working on and off site.

You can read more about pay, reward and benefits here and more about learning and development here.

How to apply

Anderson Quigley is acting as an employment advisor to Queen’s University Belfast. 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: Elliott Rae on +44 (0)7584 078 534, or Elyse Turner-Pearce on +44 (0)7808 648 559,

The closing date is noon on Friday 13th January 2023.

AQ Reference: AQ1633

Applications should consist of:

  • A full CV.
  • A covering letter (maximum of two pages) setting out your interest in the role and details of how you meet 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 follow the link to complete an Equal Opportunities Monitoring Form.


Closing date: noon on Friday 13th January 2023
Longlisting: w/c 16th January 2023
Preliminary interviews with AQ: mid-late January 2023
Shortlisting: early February 2023
Final Panel Interviews: mid-late February 2023