Chief People Officer

Ref: 6344

The Open University

Milton Keynes

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Role Managed by:

Emma Cowan

Senior Research Associate

t: 020 7340 6289


Primary Practice Group: Higher Education and Research

Salary & Benefits: Competitive Executive salary and benefits package

Closing Date: 20/02/2023

Formal Interview Date: First-stage interview - Tuesday 28th March 2023; Final-stage Interview - Friday 14th April 2023

It is anticipated that a hybrid working pattern can be adopted for this role, where the successful candidate can work from home and the office. However, as this role is aligned to our Milton Keynes office it is expected that weekly in the office will be required when necessary and in response to business needs.

Change your career, change lives

The Open University is the UK’s largest university, a world leader in flexible part-time education combining a mission to widen access to higher education with research excellence, transforming lives through education.

The Unit

People Services is the central HR function of The Open University, and forms part of the University’s Professional Services portfolio under the University Secretary. Its mission is to inspire the OU’s people to reach their potential so that our students can reach theirs. Over 200 staff in the function provide a professional service to all Academic and Professional Services units, delivering support to colleagues via our core HR operating system SAP Success Factors.

The Role

The Open University is recruiting for a values led, dedicated and inspiring Chief People Officer to join our executive team. You’ll be enabling our strategic mission by taking the lead in defining the future of work at the Open University and helping lead us through a period of profound change and development. As the Chief People Officer you’ll be accountable for providing vital leadership to the People Services function by delivering sustainable, long-term improvement whilst developing a strategic people agenda to meet this objective.

Skills and experience

  • Do you possess previous Executive level of experience, effective in influencing Executive level stakeholders to meet strategic objectives? 
  • Are you experienced in successfully leading cultural and behavioural change in a complex environment? Can you articulate complex ideas clearly to a diverse audience?
  • Are you innovative and change focussed with a proven track record of successfully embedding continuous improvement?
  • Are you a strategic thinker who can confidentially challenge? Do you enjoy devising, developing and implementing new, innovative people agendas and organisational operating models?

If you can answer yes to these questions, then we would love to hear from you.

The fully summary of duties and person specification can be found within the Job Description.

What you get in return

We have a strong commitment to providing training and development in and beyond your current role. This includes thorough induction into the organisation and regular reviews of your training and development needs.

We also offer a great range of benefits that support our employees and their families for the long term. Staff Benefits include an attractive pension proposition and 33 days holiday per annum pro rata, plus Bank Holidays and Christmas closure days.

Email :

How to apply

For further information and instructions on how to apply, please visit, quoting reference 6344.

The closing date for applications is midnight (GMT) on Monday 20th February 2023.

Informal enquiries regarding this opportunity are welcome, and should be made to Research Associate, Emma Cowan on or +44 (0)20 7340 6289.

Longlisted candidates will be invited to interview with Perrett Laver during w/c 27th February and w/c 6th March 2023 via MS Teams, following which, first stage interviews with the Selection Panel will take place on Teams during w/c 20th March. Following this, a select number of final shortlisted candidates will be invited to meet some key stakeholders and attend a final panel interview in person w/c 10th April.

Find out more about The Open University and our mission by watching this short video (you will be taken to YouTube by clicking this link).

The Open University is committed to equality, diversity and inclusion, which is reflected in our mission to be open to people, places, methods and ideas. We aim to foster a diverse and inclusive environment so that all our staff can reach their potential and attract diverse candidates.  We recognise that different people bring different perspectives, ideas, knowledge, and culture, and that this difference brings great strength. 

We offer a range of inclusive employment policies which include family and carer friendly flexible working arrangements and have many supportive staff networks and wellbeing services. We also endorse the principles of Athena SWAN, with commitment from all levels of the organisation in promoting gender equity.

Click here to download the Job Description (please note that you can download the full Candidate Brochure by clicking on the 'Download Further Details' button).

Click here to download the Terms and Conditions.