As I’m sure many of you will recognise from your own areas, my first few months as Chief Financial Officer have been something of a blur as we’ve continued to respond to the many challenges presented by the pandemic. Through my wide engagement across the professional service departments, it’s been humbling to see all of your immense work and dedication through such an especially difficult year.
Not least, this has included adapting to a number of structure and process changes. As Karen outlined in the recent staff webchat, getting this far hasn’t been easy and has seen a number of valued colleagues leaving through KVSS. However, we are also already seeing the benefits of our new model, and having taken over as Project Sponsor for Organising for Success last autumn, I wanted to take time to reflect on where we’ve got to and what we still have to address.
Our six new academic Divisions are now ‘live’, with their staff teams largely complete and work ongoing to fully support them operationally. Both Executive Group and our wider senior leadership team have been reshaped, while work previously delivered by the faculties has been mapped and reconfigured to the new structure. These are major achievements which will stand us in good stead for the future, and I am really pleased to see the new operational directorates in divisions taking shape. Later this year, the central Human Resources and Finance departments will also reshape to enable and support the devolution of key parts of these professional services.
At the same time, there is a lot to do to embed the agile, devolved structure we are working towards. While it can be hard while we are in ‘reactive’ mode, finalising the working frameworks between central Professional Services and Divisions is a priority in the weeks ahead and I strongly believe that in doing this, we will start to see the real benefits from devolution that Organising for Success aimed to achieve. This relies on having the right working relationships between different areas of the University, allowing departments and Divisions to support each other in delivering our wider ambitions in the years ahead.
We also maintain a major focus on how we work together more widely. The Project Management Office are coordinating work to map and improve our processes, supporting leads in different areas to take this forward. Many of you have already submitted suggestions to build on their initial mapping work, and the PMO will shortly be arranging engagement sessions to unpack this further. We will then work together to identify the issues we can fix quickly and others that will require a more thorough response – we are determined that ongoing improvement of our processes then becomes a standard approach at Kent rather than something we treat as a one-off.
To conclude, we are now a significant way through achieving our goals and ambitions, despite all the many obstacles and challenges we have faced over the last 12 months and I give full credit to all those involved. With your help, we have already identified a number of areas where process change could support better ways of working and help ensure our operating model is sustainable longer term. We now need to build on this momentum to ensure new structures and ways of working are fully embedded, and I look forward to working with all of your in this important work in the weeks and months ahead.
Jane Higham | Chief Financial Officer