Session Abstracts


Tuesday 29th March

The Power of IT

Our opening session sees Laura Dawson , CIO at London Business School in conversation with Andy Cook, VC at Ravensbourne University and Karen Stanton, VC at Solent University. Laura will explore Andy and Karen’s career journeys, both having held CIO positions earlier in their careers, exploring what this experience brings to their role as Vice- Chancellor, the key skills digital leaders need in order to transform businesses and what it takes for a university to achieve digital transformation.


Destination Digital. The ups and downs of UCL’s transformation journey
Andy Smith, CIO, University College London

Who would join a university as CIO during a pandemic? Having joined UCL in May 2020 this has been the experience for Andy Smith and he lives to tell you the tale. Andy has set out to help this large and comprehensive university to harness modern digital methods and technologies to enable education, research, and to digitise how the university works. It has not all been smooth sailing and the transformation is far from complete. Andy will discuss the bumps along the road and what he has learned about trying to deliver transformational change in a university, including a shift to cloud and an ‘AGILE’ transformation. The drama has included a new Provost, the development of a new strategy for UCL, as well as all the challenges of university life, IT, and COVID that we share. Should that water really be coming through the floor of the datacentre?


Partner Showcase - Drive your digital vision and build the future of higher education
Tony Pauley, Chief Information & Digital Officer, Warwick University; and Joe Wolski, CTO, ANS

The University experience has rapidly evolved over the past 18 months and in response, the University of Warwick is embarking on a comprehensive cloud-based transformation programme. Tony Pauley, CIDO at University of Warwick, will discuss the need for universities to innovate to safeguard the Higher Education Sector.

In Exchange 1


Partner Showcase - Cyber nightmare to data dreams: Improving student experience, research outcomes and business activities
Nathalie Czechowski, CIO, University of South Wales and Alan Hill, Public Sector Strategic Solutions Director, Splunk

Dealing with the real threat of a cyber nightmare, and achieving tangible business outcomes from your data, is a journey that needs technical aptitude and Board level engagement. The CIO of University of South Wales will discuss the reality of delivering a data platform that supports the essentials of cyber security and more, with important insights into the change management required for people, processes and technology. We will discuss how to get beyond operational resilience and continually drive value from your data at Board level, which is entirely deliverable with modern data technologies.

In Exchange 2&3


Partner showcase - Getting Ready for Clearing: Is your institution doing all they can to maximise the opportunity offered by Clearing?
Rupa Dey, Assistant Director, Change Delivery, Queen Mary University of London and Nalin Parbhu, CTO, Infuse

Clearing is an intense business period where huge loads are placed on the telephony network, internal infrastructure, clearing agents and social media platforms for UK Universities. Over the last 2-years, clearing agents have been distributed and working from home due to the pandemic. Queen Mary, University of London like many universities have migrated their telephony to softphone run by Britannic. Clearing 2022 offers different challenges in that agents will potentially work in a hybrid model with on-campus and remote agents. Nonetheless it is imperative that call handling, communication as well as messaging between call handler and the student is flawless thus ensuring the business opportunity in Clearing is realised for maximum benefit for all parties.

In this session you will learn about how

  • How QMUL setup its softphone systems for Clearing in 2020 and how it will adapt it in 2022?
  • How QMUL baselined the benefits case for the investment to verify and validate their Clearing systems are fit for purpose?
  • How QMUL setup the systems to mitigate and automated the test process?
  • The outcomes from the validation process and risks mitigated in 2020 and 2021
  • The business benefits from the investments made and the lessons learnt to date

in Charter Suite


Partner showcase - The University of Derby Deploys Future-Facing SOC to Manage Cyber Threats
James Eaglesfield, Head of IT Governance & Portfolio, Derby University and Nana-Ampofo Ampofo-Anti, Enterprise Security Architect - Cortex, Palo Alto Networks

2020 NEON Higher Education Institution of the Year, the University of Derby provides industry-relevant, expert teaching, from undergraduate through to postgraduate. U.K. higher education is at a tipping point. According to the Jisc ‘Cyber Impact’ report, it’s no longer a case of ‘if’ a security incident will hit – it’s ‘when’. Universities have unique challenges: both the size of their networks and the way they are accessed, and the wealth of data they hold are attractive to attackers. Attacks are becoming more sophisticated so Security Operations must adapt to thwart modern threats.

Hackers are also targeting universities because of the amount of intellectual property which held. “If you can steal ideas at the beginning before their true worth has been identified and they’ve been put under appropriate protection, then you might be able to walk away with something of value and sell it on.” says Alan Woodward, computer scientist at University of Surrey. The University of Derby is not standing still. A recent security audit identified shortcomings in security, including endpoints and areas of the network, so they took decisive action to reimagine and bolster their cybersecurity ecosystem. Join University of Derby to learn how they have built a world class SOC.

in Exchange 4&5


Partner showcase - Transforming the student experience; the digital journey
Caitroina McCusker, Education Leader, PwC UK

We are seeing a number of institutions embark on a digital transformation journey with the ambition to enhance the student experience. Recognising the challenges in the market, changing student expectations, and an ever increasing need for digital solutions to support the mental health needs of the students, they are redesigning their student experience, enabled by the implementation of CRM, while driving change to ways of working and their operating model.

Innovation around automation, improved self service and data efficiencies are achieving millions of pounds in cost savings, while improving the prospective, new, current and alumni experience has seen revenue grow in both acquisition and retention.

Embracing the challenge of delivering the programmes remotely due to the impacts of COVID-19, and a recognition of the need to move at pace to realise rapid benefits, has seen delivery of successful digital transformation with a CRM system implemented over a period of 12 - 18 months.

in Exchange 6&7


Solving the Talent Challenge panel session.

Join UCISA Chair Adrian Ellison as he leads a fireside chat with Nick Leake, CIO at Kings College London and Chris Dixon, Head of Digital Change and Innovation, at Lancaster University as they explore the current challenges facing the sector and some of the innovative solutions being employed around Talent development, recruitment and retention. This interactive session will aim to identify changes to policy, practice and processes which may be needed to ensure that digital services are empowered to recruit and retain the talent needed to meet institutions’ ambitious digital strategic ambitions


Wednesday 30th March


Breakfast briefing - It’s a People Problem” – How to steer HR and Finance to the Cloud within Higher Education
Steven Leggetter, Programme Director, Durham University

Digital transformation means delivering on a strategy that covers all parts of the ecosystem including infrastructure, tools, process, data and, most importantly, people. Join us to hear from Steven Leggetter from Durham University who will discuss his experiences of the Oracle HCM and Finance Cloud journey and plans for the future.

In Exchange 1


From The Workshop to The Disruptor: Strategic Online Planning During the Pandemic
Adam Shoemaker, Vice-Chancellor & President, Victoria University

In 2021, enduring significant lockdowns meant we had to be creative and authentic in the way we engaged with staff. This became especially significant during our new strategic plan development - as we wanted our staff to be involved in the process in a way that had never been done before. Utilising a crowd-sourcing platform that we named The Workshop, we harnessed people power and digital enablement to create something truly unique. This has led to a new way of imagining our senior leadership and designing our teaching, research and partnering future.


Changing culture – No going back – what do universities need to do to achieve digital transformation

In this session current CIO’s David Telford ( University of Sterling) and Emma Woodcock ( University of York, St, Johns) discuss how universities can capitalise on the momentum achieved during the Covid 19 pandemic and the attitudinal shift that this brought, with recently retired CIO’s John Cartwright and Drew Cook. Together they will bring their considerable combined experience to explore emerging trends, the challenges they believe we will face and their hopes for the sector’s future.


Influential leadership in a post-pandemic world
Leo Hanna, Executive Vice President, TechnologyOne

Lessons and observations on the next chapter of IT leadership; focused on managing cyber risk, flexible delivery, financial sustainability, and the wellbeing of staff and students.


Global transformation trends in higher education

Tony Sheehan, Senior Director Analyst - Gartner Research and Advisory

The global higher education sector is in the middle of unprecedented evolution. Institutions have responded commendably to the pandemic, but must now optimize processes and practices at the same time as cultivating innovation to craft a distinctive market position. To do this, universities must review current capabilities, and evaluate market trends to inform future direction. It is vital to:

  • Reflect - on the impact and enduring challenges to higher education from COVID-19
  • Predict – significant near term trends and drivers of higher education change
  • Accelerate – to new competitive positions over the next five years

In this session, Tony Sheehan will explore these three areas and encourage participants to reflect on their position, priorities and key actions to support future success.


Reflections on a lifetime of leadership
Reflections on a lifetime of leadership Professor Robert Allison, Former Vice-Chancellor of Loughborough University

Thirty-five years ago I wrote the acknowledgements to accompany my doctoral thesis as my career was opening up in front of me. Nine months ago, I was preparing an aid-memoir reminding me who to thank as I finally left higher education, departing Loughborough University as the Vice-Chancellor. The two narratives are surprisingly similar, as are many of the skills needed to complete a doctorate and navigate nine years leading a university as a Vice-Chancellor. Central to any personal success has been the benefit of working with and learning from other talented leaders. There has also been the challenge of working with and learning (albeit for different reason) from individuals that have been out of their depth. Throughout all, there has been one constant: inspirational colleagues and students, who have made it all tremendously enjoyable.


What’s your narrative? Building a compelling vision and dancing in the field
Mark Simpson, Pro Vice-Chancellor, Learning & Teaching, Teesside University and Vipin Ahlawat, Director of IT Services, Loughborough University

This session will provide a brief overview of Teesside University’s digital journey, including some thoughts about the future direction of the sector. Against this backdrop, the main focus of the session will draw on experiences of developing both a digital strategy and the required support. I will talk through some practical steps that can be taken to develop followers by building a compelling narrative. Following this, I will be joined by a panel of experts to explore their thoughts on the future of the digital landscape in HE and reflect on their experiences of developing and implementing digital strategies.


Sustainability and the climate emergency: how can IT be part of the solution and not part of the problem? A conversation with Mike Berners-Lee
Andrew Meikle, Head of Corporate Information Systems, Lancaster University, Henrik Brogger, Head of IT Service Delivery, Queen Mary University of London and Mike Berners Lee

As we launch a Sustainability group in UCISA, take this opportunity to listen in and participate in a discussion with Mike Berners-Lee. Mike is a leading expert in carbon metrics for organisation, Mike is also author of two books, “There is no Planet B: A Handbook For The Make Or Break Years; How Bad are Bananas? The Carbon Footprint of Everything and co-author of The Burning Question. He is a professor at Lancaster University’s Environment Centre, where his research includes carbon metrics and sustainable food systems.


Bouncing Back
John Doe

We are living in uncertain times with increasing pressures to perform. Out guest speaker is no stranger to uncertainty and adversity. He was brought up in poverty, on the at-risk register before spending time with fosters families. At the age of 5 tragedy struck which sent him on a downward spiral. Growing up he experienced violence, substance abuse and domestic violence. He had thoughts of suicide as young as ten years old, left school with no qualification and ended up on a psychiatric ward aged 20. Soon after he was involved in criminality and the future looked bleak. But after a failed suicide pact he decided there had to be another way. He decided to turn his life around. He then wrote a No1 Bestselling book about his journey which sold close to 1/2 million copies. He’s now shared his story of transformation around the globe as far and wide as Iran, Germany, Canada, South Africa and few more in between. In this presentation he will share how we can all deal with the challenges we get in life but also how instrumental certain leaders have been in that process. We guarantee you will remember this presentation for years to come.


Thursday 31st March

Jisc: past, present and future
Heidi Fraser- Krauss, CEO, Jisc

Heidi Fraser- Krauss Jisc CEO will give a talk outlining what Jisc does now and what it plans to focus on over the next few years.


What can your organisation learn from Formula 1?
Adrian Stalham, Chief Change Officer, Sullivan and Stanley

Business models break, new ones develop, technology evolves, regulations are revised and customers alter buying habits. Every industry is witnessing change, and Formula 1 is no different; as a multi-billion dollar sport it has seen unprecedented change in the last 20 years. Above all, Formula One’s leadership teams have had to communicate, manage and implement transformation strategies, bringing their teams with them, ensuring that they make the most from embracing change.

Adrian is co-authoring a book with former Formula 1 executive Mark Gallgaher (to be released in 2022) and will present some of the key principles from Formula 1 that can be implemented into your teams to drive high performance.


Protecting University Data: Building Cyber Resilience in an age of Ransomware
Aman Chandhok, Cyber Resilience Lead, Dell Technologies UK

The expanse of sensitive data continues to grow, while attacks are increasing in volume and sophistication. A cybersecurity plan is vital for educational institutions of all sizes and capabilities.

In the session, we will discuss the importance of building a holistic cyber resiliency practice within your university, why air-gapping data is important but may not be enough, how to leverage Dell’s methodology of Isolation, Immutability and Intelligence to give you the best chance to recover from a catastrophic attack. We will discuss the steps you can take to build cyber resiliency with Dell Technologies.


Academia and cyber threat
Paul A, NCSC

In an ever changing world of technology and geo-political events, the UK is facing an increasing and unprecedented number of cyber-attacks. This session aims to explain the current threats, explore the things you can do to protect yourself from these attacks, and look at some of the products and services that the NCSC offer, to help you and your institutions stay safe.


Cyber Security – An Insider’s View

In a world where cyber attack is an ever- present risk, four CIO’s who have guided organisations through an attack share their experiences, observations and the lessons they and their institutions learned, alongside Jisc CISO Steve Kennett whose role gives him an almost unique ‘ birds eye view’ of the incidents the sector faces and the responses made.