Appointment of the Director of Human Resources

University of Reading

Welcome from the VC

We are delighted that you are interested in exploring the opportunity to come and work with us as our new Director of Human Resources for the University of Reading.

The University of Reading has been at the forefront of UK higher education for nearly a century. Over the decades we have become innovators and pioneers, pushing academic boundaries and leading social change. In 2016, we celebrated the 90th anniversary of the grant of our Royal Charter by King George V. Our current University Strategy highlights the core values that characterise the University of Reading: a love of learning; creating and sharing new knowledge; embracing and celebrating diversity of people and ideas; and caring for our environment. We have maintained these values throughout our history, and they will continue to guide us in the future as we transform the way we work.

Our mission remains to transform people’s lives through the excellence of our education and research, and there has probably never been a more vital time for this, post-pandemic. Climate change and environmental sustainability remain arguably the most pressing issues facing humanity for generations to come. In these fields, the University of Reading is world-leading, and we continue to champion solutions through our research and our life on campus, evidenced by our #PlanetPartners and #LockdownClimateChange campaigns. We’ve led the way in seeking to improve climate education in UK schools with our multi-partner Climate Education Summit. And we are putting our weighty carbon reduction expertise behind ambitious plans to make the University net carbon zero by 2030. We continue to live in a volatile world, and we face many challenges.

Professor Robert Van De Noort
Vice Chancellor

Welcome from the CSO

The University is a diverse and inclusive community using its knowledge and skills to solve problems and create opportunities for the benefit of people and the planet. Colleagues and students work and study in a fulfilling setting that supports their development.  With over 4000 academic and support staff the University of Reading is one of Berkshire’s biggest employers. Many academic staff members are world-leading authorities, working at the cutting edge of their fields. Home to more than 23,000 students, the University of Reading is proud to welcome staff and students from all over the world and we have a truly global footprint with award-winning campuses in Reading, Henley-upon-Thames, Johannesburg, and Iskandar.

The Director of Human Resources, reports to Dr Richard Messer the Chief Strategy Officer and University Secretary and has an important role in leading the Human Resources function and providing a comprehensive range of people-related services across the Universitiy.

We would encourage you to seek an early conversation with our recruitment partner Anderson Quigley, and explore the additional information available here.

Dr Richard Messer
Chief Strategy Officer and University Secretary.

About us

In 2026 the University of Reading will celebrate the 100th anniversary of its university status. We have grown enormously during this time, in size and stature.

The University has approximately 4,000 staff from more than 90 nations, and is home to more than 23,000 students from around 160 countries.

We are characterised by the core values of a love of learning, creating and sharing new knowledge, embracing and celebrating diversity of people and ideas, and caring for our environment.

We offer a wide range of programmes from the pure and applied sciences to languages, humanities, social sciences, business and arts. New research and the latest thinking continually feed into our teaching, with academic staff working at the forefront of their fields of expertise.

We are a research-intensive university recognised for our expertise in areas such as climate science, business, agriculture, and food science. Our research is divided into four broad themes: Agriculture, Food and Health; Environment; Heritage and Creativity; and Prosperity and Resilience.

We have a global presence, with our Whiteknights and London Road campuses in Reading, Henley Business School (South Africa) in Johannesburg, and the University of Malaysia in Iskandar. The University also has a number of international partnerships and collaborations with institutions in China, USA, Canada, Malaysia, Russia, Italy, Philippines, France, Australia, Thailand, the Netherlands, Singapore, Japan, South Korea and Greece.

We are ranked 198th (and joint 26th in the UK) according to the THE World University Rankings 2020, 30th in the UK in the Times and Sunday Times Good University 2020, and 31st in the UK in the Complete University Guide 2021. You can learn more about the University’s history, community and future plans here.

You can view our organisational chart here.

Human Resources

The University’s Strategy describes an ambitious over-arching purpose to “act together, using our collective skills and diversity, to deliver a better world through the transformational power of quality education and research.”

The Human Resources function exists primarily to partner with the leaders of the University to enable the University in delivering this core purpose.

It is one of the major professional services functions within the University, providing a comprehensive range of people-related services.

In our interactions with the University community we aim always to be resourceful, responsible and respectful, mirroring the University’s leadership principles as set out in our 3Rs model: Resourceful, Responsible and Respectful.

Our services and our people reflect the University’s Professional Behaviours at all times.

The Director of Human Resources, provides leadership to a team of over 70 colleagues comprising of the following core teams.

Professional & Advisory – operating on a business partnering model the Advisory Team provides advice and guidance to managers and staff on recruitment, performance management, dispute resolution, change management and all relevant people-related issues.

People Development – providing staff learning and development activity (excluding teaching and learning development), leadership and management development, apprenticeships, rewards and benefits, and advice and support on all issues relating to equality and diversity. PD is also home for the HR Systems Team, with responsibility for the maintenance and development of the University’s current integrated personnel and payroll system iTrent.

  • System Change Project – we are changing our HR system to SAP with a dedicated team in place. The implementation of this change is scheduled for the Autumn, so this will be an important early priority for the incoming HRD.

Operations – responsible for the delivery of effective transactional services across the employee life cycle, including recruitment, right to work checks, visa applications, contract generation and amendments, and the delivery of monthly and ad hoc payrolls.

Pensions – the Pensions Team provide administrative and advisory services for the University’s three pension schemes (the USS, UREPF and URPS), and support the Trustee Boards for the UREPF and URPS.

Occupational Health – a small team of health professionals providing the University and its staff with advice and guidance to ensure a safe and healthy working life.

Campus Jobs – an in-house service facilitating part-time and temporary work opportunities on campus, primarily aimed at students.

The role

Director of Human Resources (AQ1735)

Apply now


Post title: Director of Human Resources
Grade: 9 £99k – £122k per annum
Function: Human Resources
Reports to: University Secretary & Chief Strategy Officer
Responsible for: Advisory Services, People Development, HR Operations, Pensions, Payroll, HR Systems, Occupational Health, Campus Jobs.


The Director of Human Resources will be a visible and highly credible colleague who contributes to the leadership and strategic direction of the University, is a champion for effective transformational change, and is an active member of the wider University community.

The role is responsible for the delivery and refreshing of the HR Strategic Framework, for helping to deliver the University’s strategic ambitions through the recruitment, development and nurturing of its people, and for high quality strategic, professional and transactional HR services.

The post-holder will operate as a senior leader within the wider University including membership of the Leadership Group.

Main duties and responsibilities:

  • To implement and from time to time refresh the HR strategic framework that contributes to and supports the delivery of the University’s key strategic ambitions. To be a strategic partner to the university management in defining and delivering relevant parts of the University strategy and in driving forward their implementation.
  • To be a trusted advisor to the University’s senior leaders, including the Vice-Chancellor, members of the University Executive Board and key members of the University Council via the Remuneration Committee and other committees and working groups as appropriate.
  • To define and deliver core Human Resources services, systems and processes operating at a consistently high level, providing colleagues across the University community with the best possible employee experience, delivering against the University’s employee engagement KPI.
  • To foster a culture of openness and honest communication, with particular responsibility for maintaining an effective relationship with the University’s recognised trade union UCU and its Staff Forum.
  • To drive and lead robust and effective change and transformation processes, both within HR and the wider university, ensuring that change has the effect upon people at its heart, is manageable, properly resourced and implemented effectively.
  • To be a visible and active member of the University community, supporting the University’s diversity and inclusion activities by enabling HR support for the Dean for Diversity and Inclusion, network groups and other colleagues as appropriate.
  • To be responsible for advising the University in matters of compliance with employment policy, practice and law, liaising as appropriate with the University’s in-house Legal Services team and external advisors as and when necessary.
  • To be accountable for the development and operation of reward and remuneration systems that recognise excellence and performance driven contributions to the University across the whole community, ensuring that suitable opportunities exist for all colleagues and being mindful of the scrutiny of senior staff pay and benefits.
  • To act as an ambassador for the University through regular and active engagement in national professional networks, particularly as a member of the S10 Group HRD network, the UHR community and with UCEA and the UUK as appropriate.
  • To be a champion for the University’s values and behaviours, and in particular be seen to be resourceful, responsible and respectful at all times and in everything you do on behalf of the University and its staff.
  • To recruit, develop and retain a strong team of HR professionals who deliver best in class process and procedures.
  • To review constantly processes and procedures so as to simplify and ensure that all are fit for purpose and efficient in their operation.

Supervision received

The post-holder will report to the University Secretary & Chief Strategy Officer (one post).

Supervision given

In line with current structures the post-holder will have line management responsibilities for key members of the senior HR Team.


External Contacts

The post-holder will be a member of appropriate external bodies and will be expected to engage in national policy and operational debates.

Internal Contacts

The post-holder will liaise regularly with the Vice-Chancellor, members of the University Executive Board, members of the University Council, Heads of Functions, Heads of School, other senior staff as appropriate, trade union representatives (locally, regionally and nationally as appropriate), and co-Chairs of the Staff Forum.

Terms and Conditions

This is a full-time, permanent position.

The post is at Grade 9 and as such there are no specified hours of work, but rather a requirement to work such hours as are necessary and reasonable to carry out the duties associated with the post. Overtime is not payable.

This document outlines the duties required of the post for the time being as an indicator of the level of responsibility. It is not an exhaustive list and the line manager may vary duties from time to time reasonably and which do not change the general character of the job or the overall level of responsibility entailed.


Skills/Experience required


  • Evidence of successful leadership of a Human Resources team within a complex, unionised organisation.
  • Experience of managing challenging employment issues with demonstrable knowledge of current employment legislation.
  • The ability to assess complex issues, understand and evaluate risk and advise the University Executive Board and other colleagues as appropriate on solutions in the best interests of the organisation.
  • Evidence of strong influencing and negotiation skills.
  • The ability to remain calm, prioritise, and make effective decisions under pressure.
  • A demonstrable commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion, coupled with a pragmatic but determined approach to achieving change.
  • Change and transformation experience.


  • Experience of providing a Human Resources service within the Higher Education sector.
  • An understanding of the challenges facing the wider Higher Education environment and their implications for human resources strategy, policy and practice.



  • A degree or equivalent professional qualification or experience.
  • Chartered Member of the CIPD.



  • Aligning human resources strategies with wider organisational objectives.
  • An understanding of the core transactional human resources deliverables, from recruitment and appointment, right to work and visa requirements, and payroll and pension processing.
  • Effective budgetary management.
  • Advising on and managing change and transformation.
  • Managing, advising and taking difficult decisions.

Terms of appointment


Members of staff have the opportunity to join a pension scheme sponsored by the University. The schemes are funded by contributions made by both members and the University with the University paying the majority of the cost. Under current HM Revenue and Customs rules, pension scheme members receive tax relief on their contributions to a registered pension scheme and this has the effect of reducing the cost of joining a scheme to members. In addition, the University operates a salary exchange scheme called Pensions+ which is a more effective way of paying into your pension scheme.

Employees on grade 6 and above can join USS (the Universities Superannuation Scheme). USS is a hybrid scheme with benefits built up on both a defined benefit and a defined contribution basis (if pay exceeds a certain level). Contribution rates to USS are 9.8% of salary for employees and 21.6% for the University. Also included is Life Cover of 3 times your annualised salary.

Annual leave

Annual leave entitlement for this role is 26 days per year, plus 6 Closure Days (which are scheduled around Christmas and Easter) plus public holidays. The leave year runs from 1 October to 30 September each year. In the first and last years of service, and for those on fixed-term contracts which end during a leave year, leave entitlement will be calculated in proportion to completed service.

Reward and Recognition

The University encourages, recognises and values the hard work, commitment and achievements of all staff and has a suite of arrangements for rewarding staff which include:

  • National salary % increases (negotiated in conjunction with UCU).
  • Celebrating Success Vouchers – an on-line scheme to provide immediate recognition for a job well done or for demonstrating positive professional behaviours.
  • Lump Sum Awards – provide recognition to any member of staff whose exceptional contribution on a one-off or short-term basis has been outstanding and is worthy of particular note.
  • Additional pay awards – to reward staff who have consistently performed well, over a significant period of time, in all areas of their jobs and who have demonstrated exceptional performance considerably above what may be reasonably expected for their grade, and where there is a reasonable expectation to believe that it will continue to be so.

Campus Locations
Our Green Flag Award winning Whiteknights campus is not far from Reading town centre. It has it’s own bus stop, serving Reading Buses, a free park and ride from Mereoak and Thames Valley Park and with on-site permit parking available. It is set in 130 hectares of beautiful parkland, so you’ll find plenty of places to relax during your breaks.

Our London Road campus is one of the University’s original campuses and is home to the Great Hall, which is used for concerts and graduation ceremonies, the Museum of English Rural Life and a bar/cafe that serves hot and cold food. This campus is within walking distance of Reading town centre and Reading mainline and Elizabeth line train stations, but also has on-site permit parking available if required.

Home to one of Europe’s top business schools, our stunning Greenlands campus is situated on the banks of the River Thames near Henley and boasts wonderful views, offices and on-site permit parking for staff.

Employee benefits

Salary exchange schemes such as Cycle2Work, travel loans and discounts are just some of the package’s staff can benefit from. Read more about Benefits+

Development opportunities are an important aspect for the university, and mentoring staff to attend targeted opportunities is encouraged. Extensive training opportunities in person and online, UoRLearn.


Staff can take advantage of the on-site sports facilities at the SportsPark, with a wide range of classes to choose from and use of the gym. More information on membership can be found on the SportsPark website.

There are several eateries and cafés on all our campuses, where staff can enjoy food and drinks, boasting a variety of fresh ingredients. The Whiteknights campus benefits from an onsite Co-Op store, cashpoint, a hairdressers, book shop and pub and bar.

Staff networks

The university has various staff networks, including the BAME network, LGBT+, Parent and Family network, Staff Disability network, women@reading and Women’s Springboard network.

Health and Wellbeing at Work

The University has a strong commitment to employee health and wellbeing. With the picturesque lake, Harris Gardens and walking routes, staff are encouraged to enjoy the green university campus and what it has to offer.

Employees also have access to the Employee Assistance Programme, including the Well Online and app as well as the Wellbeing Peer Support network.

SMART Working

Being on our campuses is a fundamental part of our culture and identity as a university community, for both students and colleagues, and something of which we are very proud. As a research intensive and student-focused campus university, on-campus delivery and support is central to many academic and professional colleagues’ roles. Colleagues who are less involved in face-to-face delivery or research that requires infrastructure on campus also benefit from being regularly on campus to experience campus life and develop and strengthen informal networks and collaboration.

However, for many colleagues working remotely has been a positive experience. We support colleagues having opportunities to create a balance of when and where to work within the working week, where this is possible. Read more about SMART working.

How to apply

Anderson Quigley is acting as an advisor to the University, an executive search process is being carried out by Anderson Quigley in addition to the public advertisement.

The closing date for applications is noon on 13 April 2023.

Final Panel interviews will take place on May 31st. 

Applications should consist of:

  • Applications should consist of a CV and covering statement (of no more than 1,000 words) outlining key matching experience and rationale for applying for the post.
  • Please include details of two referees in either your CV or covering letter, though please note that we will not approach your referees without your prior consent and only should you be shortlisted.

Should you wish to discuss the role(s) in strict confidence, please contact Kiersten Avery on, or +44 (0)7510 384 735.

The University is committed to having a diverse and inclusive workforce, supporting the gender equality Athena SWAN Charter and the Race Equality Charter. Applications for job-share, part-time and flexible working arrangements are welcomed and will be considered in line with business needs.