Culture Change – Is it all at Sea?

by Rossana Espinoza 0

Keynote 3 Culture Change – Is it all at Sea?



Culture as part of the DNA of an organisation, is often said to be the key factor in determining “how things are done around here”.  As such an organisation’s culture is unique, often hard to define and evolves slowly over time.   It’s not a process, there is no quick fix to making changes to culture. Within the Higher Education sector we can often believe changing culture is even more challenging than it is within other sectors, this can be a misconception. Change and particularly culture change is never easy and there is much we can learn from outside of the sector and in turn lots that we in the sector can share too.


Susanne and Heather will present a lively overview of what is different across our sectors and what is very similar.  Heather has worked across many industries and has led change effectively and in very challenging environments.  Susanne has headed many change programmes and led on culture change initiatives to embed excellence within Higher Education.  We will compare, contrast and offer what we have seen working across both sectors to support culture change.


Ms Susanne Clarke is Head of Service Excellence and Organisational Change Lead at Bournemouth University. Susanne has a track record in leading transformational change programmes and has expertise in the development of organisational performance frameworks. A Chartered Global Management Accountant and Chartered Fellow of the CMI, Susanne’s key research interests are in strength-based approaches to change such as appreciative inquiry and improvement methodologies.
Susanne joined the Higher Education Sector in 2001 and has worked in senior roles including Deputy Director of Finance and more recently Head of Service Excellence. In 2014 Susanne completed an MSc at Cranfield University in Organizational Performance Management which supported her in the new direction for her career to focus on embedding excellence within organizations. Susanne has now led and worked with others on many activities to embed service excellence and customer service to create cultures where customer service becomes the ‘way things are done around here’.
Susanne has always been passionate about building teams, and using strengths-based approaches to developing staff and teams. Susanne has qualified as an internal coach and takes a particular interest in supporting women in leadership roles. During her career as a finance professional, Susanne embedded sector leading approaches to business partnership and ensuring that finance teams were focused on really getting to know the business and in adding value. Anything that focuses on culture change and what at times is known as the “fluffy stuff”, is what Susanne lives for and she is currently leading approaches to embed kindness and respect for people into organizational cultures.


Heather Dobby is an experienced continuous improvement professional who has extensive experience of implementing culture change in a number of diverse organisations which include a local authority, insurance company and an engineering company.
She advocates building improvement programmes where those doing the work are taught to improve the work they do; utilising tools and frameworks from Lean Six Sigma and blending these with people change management thinking.
She has complemented her work experience by undertaking an MSC Six Sigma Quality and is an active member of the “Improvement Community of Practice” hosted by University of Winchester