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Durham University

Organisation Development

The Team

Team Members

Sophie Sowerby

Head of Organisation Development

Areas of Activity: Support Leadership, Coaching and Mentoring and RYPA Programme

Sophie Sowerby

Sophie has worked at the University since 2008 within the staff development team. She has had over 30 years' experience working within HR, OD and staff development roles within a variety of blue chip private and public sector organisations within the UK, Australia and North America.

Since joining the University she has developed a portfolio of management and leadership development programmes; established various cross institution coaching and mentoring schemes; and led on the development, roll out and embedding of the Realising Your Potential approach.

Sophie chaired, and is an active member of the HE Staff Development Network, working collaboratively with institutions across the sector, developing the Women in Academia Mentoring programme with Newcastle University whilst also introducing the Inspiring Women's network at Durham. Sophie provides supervision for 'in-house' coaches and 1:1 support through the 'in-house' 'Coaching and Mentoring Network' which she set up in 2010. She was asked to speak about this approach at the Arts and Humanities Research Council Leadership Fellows event 2015, and the Women in Academia Conference 2014. In addition she designs and delivers bespoke team development days for teams across the institution. Sophie is one of the University's 'Aurora' Champions' supporting leadership development for academic women.

Sophie manages the day to day operations of the staff development team, responding to training requests and ensuring that the open course programme supports the needs of the institution. She holds a Masters' degree in Leading Innovation and Change, CIPD membership, ILM 5 in Leadership and Coaching and Mentoring, PGCE post 16 and is an MBTI practitioner.

  • Email:
  • Phone: extension 41640

Michelle Taylor

Organisation Development Adviser

Areas of Activity: Supporting Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

Michelle Taylor

Michelle studied Business Management at Newcastle University and obtained a BA (hons) in 1997. She then worked for a large retailer in the private sector for over 8 years in a range of management roles including as HR Manager and Divisional Training Manager. The latter role involved delivering management and leadership training and undertaking management and graduate recruitment and selection.

Following completion of a Post Graduate Certificate in Education, Michelle took up the position of Lecturer in Management in the HE faculty of a local mixed economy college. Her main responsibilities included delivering bespoke management and leadership training for external organisations, and delivery on professional programmes and the undergraduate degree programme.

Michelle then completed her MSc in Human Resource Management in 2009 and became course leader for Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) professional qualifications. Her final position with the college was as Curriculum Manager for professional programmes. Michelle is also a Chartered Member of the CIPD.

Michelle joined Durham University in October 2013 and is currently the Equality and Diversity Trainer. This role includes identifying equality and diversity training requirements, and designing and implementing a range of training and development events with an equality and diversity focus. Both core and bespoke training is available to all staff.

  • Email:
  • Phone: extension 46494

Claire Hunter

Senior Organisation Development Manager

Areas of Activity: Supporting Leadership

Claire Tindale

Claire is a Senior Organisation Development Manager and is responsible for the design and delivery of a range of in-house development workshops and leadership and management programmes across the University. Claire has recently led on a project to implement personal development workbooks to encourage career progression amongst professional services staff.

Claire is also a qualified coach and a member of the University’s in-house Coaching and Mentoring Network.

Claire joined the University in January 2000, having previously worked for Durham County Council. Claire is a Chartered Member of the Institute of Personnel Development and holds a Masters in Human Resource Management, BA (Hons) in Business and Administration and Post Graduate Certificate in Education.

Claire Warren

HR Administrator (Learning & Organisation Development)

Areas of Activity: Supporting Staff Development Programme

Claire Warren

Claire joined the HR Training and Development team at the university in August 2012 after working with Business and Enterprise North East and the North East Chamber of Commerce supporting small businesses.

Claire has a largely marketing and administrational background and is responsible for all aspects of administration in the HR-OD team. She organises the annual ‘Open Programme’ of training workshops from booking rooms, organising internal and external Trainers, liaison with Event Durham to producing materials, promotion and conducting and reviewing evaluation responses.

Claire also manages the Training Course Booking System for each individual course ensuring appropriate information is available for Trainers plus updates the system so that individuals’ training records are up to date. All enquiries regarding training and development are directed to, and for the most part responded to, by Claire. She also administrates the leadership development programmes such as ILM. A large proportion of Claire’s time is devoted to arranging the Vice Chancellor’s Welcome events and ‘Senior Leaders’ Induction events. She organises the necessary Speakers’ involvement and contribution to the event. She also supports the team wherever needed and coordinates the financial activities for the team.

  • Email:
  • Phone: extension 41647