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Durham University

Organisation Development

The Team

Sophie Sowerby, Head of Organisation Development

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

Sophie has worked at the University since 2008 within the staff development team and now Heads up the Organisation 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 and the Job Families and DU leadership attributes framework.

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 has spoken at national conferences on a range of OD interventions developed at Durham including the Arts and Humanities Research Council Leadership Fellows Forum, The SDF, AUA, Advance HE and HEOD conferences in the UK and in Australia. She has initiated developed and hosted conferences for colleagues across the sector eg Women in Academia conference 2014 and Professional Services Career Pathways Conference 2018I. Sophie is one of the University's 'Aurora' Champions' supporting leadership development for academic women.

Sophie is the strategic lead on the OD interventions within the institution responding to the Respect Commission recommendations, Wellbeing Strategy and People Strategy. She holds a Masters' degree in Leading Innovation and Change, CIPD membership, ILM 5 in Leadership and Coaching and Mentoring, PGCE post 16, is a Fellow of the AUA, a member of the Association for Coaching and is an MBTI practitioner.

Deborah Beel, Senior Organisation Development Manager

Areas of Activity: Wellbeing, Engagement and Supporting the Embedding of Transformational Change

Deborah joined Durham University in August 2019, as a Senior Organisation Development Manager. Previously Deborah has gained a wealth of experience in Higher Education, Local Authority, Housing Sector and Commercial Banking.

Her portfolio includes responsibility for Wellbeing, Engagement and the design and delivery of transformational change initiatives. Deborah led on the launch of the Wellbeing Hub providing a one stop shop for colleagues across Durham to help and support colleagues to improve their wellbeing. In additions Deborah works exclusively with teams on a tailored approach to specifically support any change programs or initiatives they face.

Deborah is a Chartered Member of the CIPD and holds a Masters in Human Resource Management, is an MBTI practitioner, and TMSDI Accredited.

June Hedley, Senior Organisation Development Manager

Areas of Activity: Leadership and Management, Inclusive Culture, Aurora, Women in Higher Education Network

As Senior Organisation Development Manager June’s portfolio includes responsibility for working with various stakeholders to support the work of Leadership and Management, Inclusive Culture and Durham University's ‘Aurora' programme for women in leadership and management as well as other network groups.

June joined the University in April 1999 and has worked for the Faculty of Arts & Humanities, Faculty of Science, Bill Bryson Library, and previously worked in Further Education, Local Government and the Industry Sector.

June demonstrates a commitment to leadership, management and education with a people centred approach. In 2017, June won the University Realising Your Potential Approach Award and in 2019 completed Durham University’s Future Leaders Programme.

Member of the AUA, University Coach and Mentor with a BA (Hons) Education, City & Guilds Certificate in Education and Training, OCR Assessing Vocational Achievement, RYPA Leadership Programme and ILM Leadership and Management.


Claire Hunter, Senior Organisation Development Manager

Areas of Activity: Coaching, Open Course Training Programme and Supporting Leadership

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 led on the project to implement career pathways 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.

Michelle Taylor, Senior Organisation Development Manager

Area of Activity: Implementing Oracle Learning

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 an Organisation Development Adviser.

Amy Cutts, Organisation Development Administrator

Amy is the Organisation Development Administrator and is responsible for the administration of in-house development workshops, management of the HR OD budget and day to day support of the HR OD team.

Amy joined the University in March as part of the new Temporary Staffing Service team, more recently joining the HR OD team in September 2020 having previously worked for large private sector companies in various HR functions. She has experience working within a HR Service Centre environment as well as high volume in-house recruitment campaigns. Amy is currently studying towards a Level 3 Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).