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Guest provocateurs joining the Festival of Ideas

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Professor Susan Lea, Professor Charlotte Clarke and Professor Michael Harkin will join the Invisible Grail team to talk about strategy, leadership and problem-solving at the Festival of Ideas in April.

This April, three senior leaders will be taking part in our new Festival of Ideas; a series of free, short, online sessions to spark a different way to think about what it means to lead now, for everyone working in higher education.

In Conversation with… Professor Susan Lea

To start the Festival off, Professor Susan Lea, Vice-Chancellor at the University of Hull will join Dr Paul Gentle and Louise Clifton for a cup of coffee for our ‘In Conversation with…’ session.

Together with attendees we’ll talk about the things that matter now and how, what we do and the choices we make in our roles can, and is, making a difference.

Hot-seating: problem solving techniques in real-time with Professor Charlotte Clarke

Professor Charlotte Clarke, Executive Dean (Social Sciences and Health) at Durham University will join us for our ‘Hot seating’ session on Tuesday 20 April to offer a sticky, real-life leadership challenge.

With guidance from the Invisible Grail team, attendees will navigate through 5-layers of techniques to unlock potential solutions to the challenge at hand. This is an experiential session to model ways into difficult and complex issues, using creative and imaginative approaches that can be adapted for use in colleagues’ everyday work.

What’s on the Strategy agenda for ’21? With Professor Michael Harkin

Offering his expertise on strategy, Professor Michael Harkin, Vice-Chancellor at University College Birmingham will join us to talk about ‘What’s on the Strategy agenda for ’21?’ on the morning of Wednesday 21 April.

This session will focus on the big-ticket items shaping the horizon for higher education, such as social justice, the role of universities in our communities, new challengers and political relations. We’ll talk about what’s on your ‘to do’ list, and how plans can be turned into action.

Every session at the Festival is designed to inspire and provoke new ideas and ways of doing things. The sessions are both reflective and practical, and are open to everyone working in higher education.

The core principles of the Festival are equality, openness, feedback and confidentiality. This is a place to talk about and celebrate successes, and talk through failures in equal measure. By bringing people together across the sector, we hope to facilitate new relationships, and reignite creativity and inspiration you can use in your everyday.


About our guest provocateurs

Professor Susan Lea, Vice-Chancellor at the University of Hull

Professor Susan Lea brings extensive leadership experience, from a broad range of universities. Her career spans research and teaching intensive universities, as well as those that play a key role in the region.  She began her career as a lecturer in psychology at the University of Cape Town before moving to the University of Plymouth where she held a number of senior positions at both faculty and University level. Having moved to King’s College London, she held simultaneously a number of senior management roles, including Dean of Education and Professor within the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience.  She was appointed King’s Interim Vice-Principal (Education) and went on to hold a number of senior, cross institutional roles. 

Professor Lea joined Hull in August 2017, from her position as DVC (Academic) at the University of Greenwich where her responsibilities including paying a key role in developing the strategic vision for the University.  She brought that vision and experience to Hull, with a commitment to realising the full potential of the University, and contributes significantly to the city and region.

Professor Charlotte Clarke, Executive Dean (Social Sciences and Health) at Durham University

As Executive Dean (Social Sciences & Health), Charlotte is responsible for the strategic development and financial performance of the Faculty of Social Sciences & Health. She is a key academic leader, supporting and enhancing research and teaching performance within her Faculty. As an integral member of the University Executive, she also plays an important ambassadorial role for her Faculty and the University as a whole.

Charlotte came to Durham from the University of Edinburgh where she was Head of the School of Health in Social Science and Dean International for the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.

She has been a (sub-)panel member for RAE2008, REF2014 and REF2021.

Through her research, Charlotte has worked to address health inequalities and stigma and has influenced international health and social care policy and practice in relation to dementia. Charlotte graduated in Nursing Studies from Glasgow College of Technology and holds an MSc in Health and Social Research, a PGCE, a PhD in Dementia and Higher Doctorate in Social Science from Northumbria University.

Professor Michael Harkin, Vice-Chancellor at University College Birmingham

Michael became Vice-Chancellor and Principal from 1 August 2019, having previously served for eleven years at the University as Deputy Vice-Chancellor. Michael holds an ex-officio post on the Corporation and serves as the University’s Chief Executive Officer, with specific responsibilities for making proposals to the Corporation on the educational character and mission of the University and for the management of budget and resources. In his previous role, Michael was responsible for Corporate Services and the development of the University’s estate. This followed an earlier career in both the FE and HE sectors and a commercial stint in the aviation industry.