Executive Management Team

Professor Michael Harkin, Vice-Chancellor and Principal

Michael became Vice-Chancellor and Principal on 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 further and higher education sectors and a commercial stint in the aviation industry.

The Vice-Chancellor and Principal is supported by the Executive Management Team.

The Executive Management Team (EMT) is the executive decision-making body for University College Birmingham. It supports the Vice-Chancellor and Principal in ensuring that:

  • The University’s strategies, structures, systems and procedures provide academic programmes, support mechanisms and facilities that underpin a high quality, cost effective learning experience for students.
  • Resources are properly managed to meet current requirements and to generate sufficient reserves to meet future needs.

Joseph Young, University Secretary and Registrar

Joseph joined the University in 2008. As University Secretary and Registrar, Joseph reports directly to the Corporation and provides professional advice on the role, function and constitution of the Corporation and its sub-committees in line with the:

  • Instrument and Articles of Government
  • Conditions of Funding
  • Audit Code of Practice
  • Standing Orders of the Corporation
  • Terms of Reference

Joseph line manages the Academic Registry function, encompassing Examinations, Timetabling and Attendance. He also has institutional responsibility for licensing and insurance arrangements, and acts as an Executive link between the independent Guild of Students and the University.

Professor Helen Poole, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Teaching, Learning and Digital)

Helen oversees our higher education portfolio’s design, performance and quality standards. Following jobs across the criminal justice sector, including prison and probation services, she became a lecturer in criminology at Coventry University and was then Head of the School of Psychological, Social and Behavioural Sciences.

In 2016, Helen joined the University of Northampton as Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences before joining Staffordshire University as Dean for the School of Law, Policing and Forensics, then becoming Executive Dean of Justice, Security and Sustainability. As a result of her roles, she has managed a wide range of discipline portfolios and led on cross-institutional developments.

Helen remains an active researcher in criminology and completed a project on the use of digital forensics in child sexual exploitation cases. In relation to firearms, she co-led a large EU project, acted as consultant to the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime Firearms Directive and has been published in international journals, as well as co-penning textbook Firearms: Crime, Consequences and Control.

Helen has an LLB Law degree from the University of Wolverhampton, an MA in International Criminology from Sheffield University and an EdD from University of the Birmingham. She also holds fellowship of the HEA and the National Council for Entrepreneurship Education and is a governor for a secondary school in Coventry.

José Lopes, Pro Vice-Chancellor (External Affairs)

José has responsibility for building relationships in both the public and commercial sectors, promoting the full breadth of the University’s work and activities to external stakeholders, businesses and employers.

Employers’ skills priorities and performance expectations heavily inform our current and future curriculum development. This equips our students with the best quality and range of skills and talents, to benefit them and wider society. Employers also inform the quality and range of our employment support and apprenticeship services, delivered by José’s team of dedicated specialists to students and alumni.

In his previous role with the West Midlands Combined Authority, José was responsible for strengthening collaboration with the regional business community. He aligned and drove enthusiasm and effort around meeting regional skills priorities to enable participants to achieve more collectively. An engineer by background, José spent 30 years in the automotive sector, taking the lead on programmes to develop the technical skills and competencies of staff, including new graduates, and also on the creation of degree apprenticeship routes.

José is a Chartered Manager and Companion of the Chartered Management Institute, as well as a Chartered Engineer, with fellowships of both the Institution of Engineering and Technology, and the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

Rosa Wells - FE Principal and Dean of STEM

Rosa Wells is the Executive Dean of the School of Engineering, Digital and Sustainable Construction. Rosa is a highly experienced engineer who has dedicated her career to education and training. She is passionate about providing students with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in STEM sectors. 

In her previous role, Rosa was leading the Greater Birmingham & Solihull Institute of Technology, working closely with engineering employers and education partners to establish a state-of-the-art learning factory in the city centre accessible to all engineering learners across the region.

Rosa is deeply committed to making a positive impact on the lives of her students and is constantly seeking new and innovative ways to improve their learning experience. Her impact and expertise have been recognised in the award of a Technical Teaching Fellowship in 2021. 

Rosa works closely with leading sector bodies such as Women into Science and Engineering, STEM Learning and the Royal Academy of Engineering to ensure best practice is embedded within our work with learners, schools and employers.

Prof. Dr. Anne Coufopoulos, Executive Dean - School of Health, Sport and Food

Anne is currently Executive Dean at University College Birmingham, leading the School of Health, Sport and Food. She has held a number of academic roles over the past 23 years within higher education, with the past seven years being in senior leadership roles, and is also a Registered Dietitian.

Previously Anne was Associate Dean (Enterprise and Innovation) in the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences at Coventry University. Externally Anne is a Trustee of the charity HENRY, which supports the whole family to make positive lifestyle changes to ensure babies and young children get the best start in life. She is also a trustee of the Institute of Health Promotion and Education.

Much of Anne's academic and research work over the years has focused extensively on vulnerable and hard-to-reach groups of society, reflected in her publications, consultancy and advisory work in these areas. She continues to engage in research through the supervision of a number of PhD students working within food, nutrition and poverty/homelessness.

Anne is also very much engaged in the health and wellbeing of the workplace and led the health and wellbeing theme of the Coventry and Warwickshire Business Festival between 2017-19. She also has a keen interest in coaching and mentoring and holds a Level 7 CMI Coaching and Mentoring qualification.

Dr David Paulson, Executive Dean - Business School 

As Executive Dean of the Business School, Dr David Paulson oversees the departments of Business and Enterprise, Hospitality and Tourism, and Creative Industries. Previously, David was Professor of Practice in Leadership and Management at Queen’s University Belfast, following an earlier career serving in international management roles with the US multinational General Electric and as managing director of SMEs supplying international commercial customers.

His PhD at Cambridge University was published in 2023 as Family Firms in Postwar Britain and Germany: Competing Approaches to Business. It compares the historic performance of West Midlands SMEs and their German Mittelstand counterparts and argues for the importance of supportive ecosystems, particularly in relation to skills and leadership development – all areas in which University College Birmingham makes a significant regional contribution.  

David was previously a member of the Northern Ireland Productivity Forum and now serves on the Advisory Panel for the Business Commission West Midlands. He is committed to further developing the University's range of courses for UK and international students, including business professionals who want to enhance their personal effectiveness, and working closely with the region’s business community.

Professor Gill Brown - Executive Dean School of Psychology

Gill is the Executive Dean of the School of Psychology, which offers a strong suite of applied programmes at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels and supports the employability skills of future psychology graduates. She previously worked as Head of the School of Psychology at the University of Bolton and has worked in higher education for over 15 years in both psychology teaching and leadership roles.

Prior to her academic career, Gill worked within the prison service providing psychological services to offenders and held the position of treatment manager of an offending behaviour treatment programme. She also has experience working within youth offending services and alongside forensic community mental health teams.

Her particular research interest is disparities in health service needs and treatment provision for ethnic minority groups, and her leadership of academic, research and treatment teams has allowed for the practical application of psychology, winning her the British Psychological Society (BPS) national award for innovation.

She also sits on the education and training board within the BPS and holds external roles relevant to curriculum development and quality enhancement and assurance.

Mark Payne, Executive Director of Finance and Corporate Services

Mark was appointed in February 2021 and is the Executive Director of Finance and Corporate Services. He leads the support services of Finance, MIS, Estates & Facilities, DICE and IT, and the development and implementation of the University's accommodation strategy on behalf of the Vice Chancellor. As well as advising the EMT and Governors on strategic finance and resources matters, Mark also has oversight of the University's strategic risk register.

Mark started out in local authority finance in 1983, obtaining the ONC and HNC (in Business and Finance) and AAT in 1988, before qualifying as a chartered accountant in 1992. He spent a number of years in the private sector with KPMG before becoming a regional director at the Learning and Skills Council. He held senior leadership roles in two FE Colleges in Nottingham and Coventry for over 20 years before joining the University. As well as being a Chartered Accountant, he has obtained a MA and a MPhil from University of Warwick.

Emma Smith - Executive Director - Further Education Quality Enhancement

Emma joined the University in November 2022, having already spent more than 20 years working in further education colleges and sixth form education across the region. As Executive Director – FE Quality Enhancement and Sixth Form Lead, Emma’s role at the University is to ensure that the quality of education for all students within the FE provision is outstanding. This includes our vocational programmes of study, apprenticeship programmes, access courses and T Level Qualifications.

Her career started in 1998 at North Warwickshire & South Leicestershire College where she spent a decade working with disadvantaged and disengaged young people who she supported into positive and worthwhile careers. In 2012 Emma moved to Birmingham and joined Birmingham Metropolitan College as Assistant Director, where she was responsible for improving the maths and English skills of young people and adults across the college. She later joined Cadbury Sixth Form College as Quality Director and Head of Curriculum in 2016.

In her strategic role within the University, Emma will also be leading the sixth form provision project as it moves towards a September 2024 launch, supporting students along a pathway of learning into the most up to date and interesting areas of study.

Jo Oguzie - Executive Director of Human Resources

Jo is responsible for ensuring that our organisation’s culture, policies and procedures support our people to achieve the aims outlined in the University strategy, delivering transformational change through employee engagement, organisational development and organisational design. She leads the HR Team in delivering expert advice on all aspects of Human Resources, including recruitment, reward and benefits, equality, diversity and inclusion, employee engagement and health and wellbeing.

Jo was previously Director of Partnering at Coventry University Group, where she was responsible for providing strategic HR leadership and guidance to a range of academic and professional service areas, and had a group-wide responsibility for performance management.

Jo is a chartered member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development and holds an MA in Human Resources Development from the University of Warwick, along with qualifications in Coaching & Mentoring and Mediation in the Workplace.

Bec Tigue - Sixth Form Centre Principal

Bec is Principal at the Sixth Form Centre at University College Birmingham. She has been in leadership roles in education for over 25 years, working in inner city schools in Liverpool, London and most recently as Head of School and then Director at the University of Birmingham School.

She is passionate about equity, diversity and inclusion and the power of education and opportunity to transform lives. She is an advocate for Character Education and was the first Character Ambassador of the Jubilee Centre for Research in Character and Virtues, is an honorary research fellow of the Centre, and completed her Masters in Education with a dissertation on Ethical leadership.

Bec hopes to combine her expertise in school leadership and character, with the wider learning and experiential opportunities available at UCB, to ensure sixth form students develop a life long love of learning, widen their horizons about what’s possible, and live purposeful and flourishing lives.

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