People Strategy project

Page updated: 23 April 2024

Staff focus groups: help shape the employee experience at Oxford

The University strives to create a culture where every employee feels valued and motivated. Focus groups will be held in May to give all University staff the opportunity to contribute ideas to help shape the University's People Strategy. Complete this form to nominate yourself to take part in a focus group. 

Nomination deadline extended to: Friday 3 May 2024.


A People Strategy project group has been established to use data and feedback from the recent CIPD People Impact Survey, the Staff Experience Survey and HR professionals across the University to produce a 12-month action plan on key central and divisional HR deliverables.

The group will also identify the key themes of a new People Strategy which will be developed in Michaelmas Term as one of the pillars of the new University strategy. 

Key information

The project will:

  1. Identify key themes; 
  2. Prioritise actions to address in the first 12 months; 
  3. Agree what should be included in the three year People Plan; 
  4. Communicate progress to central and divisional HR colleagues; and 
  5. Identify and communicate with key stakeholders both centrally and divisionally. 

The Steering Group and Project team will deliver a paper to People Committee in June 2024, which will outline the final draft of the People Strategy and the 12 month plan. Delivery on those priorities and the three year People Plan will begin in the 2024-25 academic year.

The following enablers (and corresponding deliverables) have been identified as the key themes of the People Plan and Strategy:

Enabler 1: An Ethical and Sustainable Culture

  • Inclusive and equitable leadership and governance 
  • Shared Oxford values to articulate our aspirations, beliefs and priorities
  • Inclusivity and equity embedded into our working lives to foster a fair environment
  • Change conversation on performance and behaviour

Enabler 2: World Class People Services

  • Digital transformation – streamline processes and enhance operational efficiency, fostering a simplified and agile work environment
  • Deliver precise and reliable people data as part of our commitment to world-class People services 
  • Embed professional bodies’ standards as a benchmark for our Professional Services 
  • Champion Professional Services together as a framework for continuous improvement 

Enabler 3: Nurturing Talent

  • Attract and retain world-class talent
  • Academic and professional services strategic workforce development and succession planning
  • Academic and professional services career pathways
  • Line manager development, support and insight     

Enabler 4: A Great and Trusted Place to Work 

  • Champion Pay and Conditions review recommendations
  • Promote a healthy, safe and supportive work environment 
  • Foster a culture of fairness and transparency in rewards and benefits, sustaining our competitive and world-class reputation 

The project team has identified a list of actions for both central and divisional HR teams, against the four enablers agreed as part of the People Strategy. This will be developed further following consultation over the coming months.

Working groups are being defined to work on these actions. These groups will identify key projects and groups they need to align with, set timelines and also define key objectives and definitions of success.


Enabler Actions
Enabler 1: An ethical and sustainable culture
  1. Maintain and support academic freedom as part of our core values
  2. Support the creation of a collegiate Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy
  3. High-level review of our end to end recruitment processes and onboarding through inclusion lenses
  4. Implement the recommendations of the task and finish group on the Gender Pay Gap
  5. Advance the aims of the Research Concordat
Enabler 2: World-class People services​
  1. Enhance University services by sharing resources to improve learning development and wellbeing
  2. Pilot our new employee relations approach to reduce workload, enhance support and address cultural issues
  3. Collaborate with the Automation Competency Centre to streamline workflows, saving time and minimising errors (e.g. casual workers)
  4. Deliver and support initiatives on the People strand of Professional Services Together (PST): developing Leaders, enabling Oxford-wide careers and supporting Professional Communities 
Enabler 3: Nurturing talent​
  1. Establish strategic workforce planning to the organisation
  2. Deliver a talent management lifecycle strategy
  3. Achieve significant progress on the Academic Career and Reward Framework
  4. Line Manager development – toolkits for induction support, masterclasses and clinics
  5. PDR and CDR reviews for Professional Services and Research Staff
  6. Design, develop and implement Academic and Professional Services Career Pathways
Enabler 4: A great and trusted place to work
  1. Implement the recommendations of the Pay and Conditions review
  2. Develop a multi-year strategic partnership with professional bodies for upskilling all professionals across the University
  3. Put wellbeing and Everyday Safe at the centre of the employee experience


Membership includes:

  • Isobel Stokoe, HR Project Officer, UAS
  • Jo Mason, Head Partnerships - HR, UAS
  • Jonathan Roger, Departmental Administrator - HR, UAS
  • Rachel Wilcock, HR Manager - Estates Services, UAS
  • Sarah Willcox-Jones, Head of HR Shared Services, Humanities

The People Strategy Plan Steering Group (PSPSG) are responsible to the People Committee, for producing a 12-month action plan on key central and divisional HR responsibilities, in addition to reviewing the three year People Plan and refreshing the plan as appropriate. It will identify challenges, problems and immediate opportunities and take steps to prepare both divisional and central HR teams for ambitious changes to working practices. 


  • Professor Diego Sánchez-Ancochea, Associate Head for People, SSD (Project Sponsor)
  • Gwen Booth, Academic HR Team Leader, MPLS  
  • Renu Gupta, Director of Talent, UAS
  • Katharine Herdt, SocSci HR Team Leader, UAS  
  • Abigail Hipkin, Organisational Development Manager, GLAM
  • Cathy King, Professional Services Together Lead, UAS
  • Dr Markos Koumaditis, HR Director, UAS 
  • Meghan Lawson, Head of Academic HR, SSD
  • Jo Mason, Head of Partnerships, UAS  
  • Elena McPhilbin, Head of HR - NDM, MSD
  • Gillian Morris, Assistant Registrar, MSD 
  • Frances Parkes, Wellbeing Programme Manager, UAS
  • Linda Pope, Head of HR, GLAM  
  • Julie Rees, Interim Head of People & Organisational Development, UAS
  • Nichola Selby, Everyday Safe Programme Manager, UAS
  • Vernal Scott, Head of the Equality and Diversity Unit, UAS
  • Isobel Stokoe, HR Project Officer, UAS
  • Rachel Wilcock, HR Manager, Estates Services, UAS
  • Sarah Willcox-Jones, Head of HR Shared Services, Humanities

The People Strategy project team is partnering with a broad group of stakeholders across the University to deliver on its objectives. These include the following project groups, programmes and functions:

  • Academic Career and Reward Framework 
  • Automation Competency Centre
  • Digital Transformation Programme
  • Equality and Diversity Unit
  • Gender Pay Gap task and finish group 
  • Health and Safety Office
  • Pay and Conditions review
  • People and Organisational Development
  • Professional Services Review
  • Professional Services Together
  • Recruitment Team
  • Researcher Hub


Date Update
April 2024
  • The draft People Plan and Strategy has developed following consultation with a range of staff groups across the University. This will develop further following staff focus groups planned for May 2024
  • A final draft will be submitted to People Committee in June 2024
December 2023
  • A 12-month action plan has been agreed, with 14 actions mapped against the enablers set out in the People Plan and Strategy
October 2023
  • Draft People Plan and Strategy presented to People Committee
  • Enablers (with corresponding deliverables) have been identified as key themes
  • The project team will now identify a list of actions for central and divisional HR
August 2023
  • Project webpage live
  • Terms of reference drafted
July 2023
  • Project Team and Steering Group established


Contact us

Jo Mason, Project Lead: