4th April 2018

Bishop Grosseteste University (BGU) is delighted to announce that Umar Zamman, our Head of HR and Organisational Development, has been appointed to the National Executive Board of Universities Human Resources (UHR).

UHR is the professional organisation for Human Resources practitioners in the United Kingdom and Eire universities. It works with associated bodies such as Universities UK, UCEA and GuildHE to offer co-ordinated responses to consultations by bodies such as the Funding Councils and government, and to share information and best practice.

Our PR Team caught up with Umar to discuss his new role and how it would benefit both BGU and the wider Higher Education sector.

You’ve been appointed to the National Executive Board of UHR, what will be your role and responsibilities?

“The UHR is the primary body in the Higher Education sector that leads on HR organisational development. The role of the Executive Board is to provide strategic direction to UHR and help them to drive their policy and strategic plan. I am excited by the role and hoping to contribute on a number of different projects and working groups within it such as, for example, international development of the UHR network. I think it’s a great opportunity for BGU to be represented at a national level, especially in an area we’ve not had a major presence in previously.”

How did your appointment come about?

“To join the Executive Board candidates put their names forward for consideration, these are then sent on to HR directors from universities around the country who are asked to anonymously endorse their preferred representative. I put myself forward as it was something I was really interested in being a part of and it is immensely rewarding to see my fellow professionals supporting me. The best part is that BGU will now be sharing a stage with some of the most prestigious universities in the country, which is great for both our reputation as an institution and our strategic HR and organisational development. Much of the work of the UHR is leading on new and innovative best practice in HR in the UK and with partnerships abroad, so it’s a tremendous opportunity for us to be directly involved in this.”

What will your new role bring to BGU and how will it build into your ongoing work here?

“I’ve joined BGU from a very different background (I’ve never previously worked in Higher Education) and one of the things I’m keen to do is build BGU’s brand. By getting involved on this board I am hoping that I can contribute to this. It’s also really important for BGU to be seen leading on people and development issues. We’ve just launched our People and Organisational Development Strategy within the University and it’s based on valuing our people. This appointment is a great opportunity for us to demonstrate our commitment to that at a national and international level.

With regards my ongoing work there are two distinct elements where my role on the board will have an impact. The first will be making sure that the good practice I’m experiencing both nationally and internationally is brought back to BGU. It’s critical that the University benefits from the cutting edge and innovative practices that the UHR are developing around people and leadership development. The second is showing the wider university sector the insight and expertise that BGU can offer. I think it’s really important that we grasp this opportunity to be leading innovation and not relying on other institutions to show us good practice.

One of the first areas I’ll be driving is the Diversity and Inclusion Agenda as well as responding to the challenges and changes that are coming in from the Office for Students around widening participation. I am extremely passionate about the inclusion agenda and driving this in HR and organisational development is so important. The recent HESA figures showcased how much hard work BGU have put into widening participation in the Higher Education sector and it is credit to the BGU staff involved.”

Are there any other areas you’re excited to work on?

“What I’d like to be leading on, in addition to diversity and inclusion, is making BGU a driving force in inclusive leadership. I believe that’s really important and helping BGU become a recognised leader in that area will be one of my main focuses along with doing my best to contribute to working with UHR and some fantastic and talented colleagues from around the country.

I’ll be working closely with other departments within BGU to spread the impact of my involvement with the UHR as well as championing our new People and OD strategy. One of my ongoing goals is to help BGU get the most out of its internal talent, this appointment has the potential to really support that initiative so I’m keen it doesn’t simply get boxed away under ‘HR’. BGU is a fantastic place to work and full of skilled and committed people and we have a chance to not only show them how valued they are but also how their talents can benefit the university as a whole.”

It’s definitely an exciting time for the Higher Education sector with numerous potential changes on the horizon. To find yourself at the forefront of this must be an exciting prospect?

“I think it’s a great opportunity and it’s a credit to my colleagues who nominated me, considering I haven’t been in the sector very long, that they’ve put this trust in me and I’d certainly like to thank them. Over the last 7 months I’ve made a real effort to attend regional HR directors meetings and highlight BGU as a forward thinking university in the area of HR & OD. I’m a very strong believer that BGU have some fantastic things to offer the sector and I’m excited to have the opportunity to put us out there on that stage to demonstrate what we are about and gain the recognition we deserve.”


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