SUMS' network of expert consultants thrives on complex problem-solving that supports university improvement. We regularly add to our associate pool. If you would like to join our team, please read more about our approach below.
How the SUMS Associate Model Works
Associate Consultants who join our team are a key component of our business model. They are typically experts in their own field; experienced specialists with in-depth experience of both Higher Education and the commercial world. Our Associates are not direct employees of SUMS, but they are a hugely valued part of our community. Each engagement our Associate Consultants undertake is delivered on behalf of SUMS, under the SUMS brand, as a SUMS ambassador.
SUMS Consulting delivers hundreds of assignments each year to its members and clients. Some of those assignments are relatively contained, requiring only a small team to deliver them. Others constitute major transformation and demand a large team ‘on the ground’ to ensure they are delivered to the required levels of excellence. As a SUMS Associate Consultant, you could be invited to be involved in any of these assignments if your skills and experience are a good match for them.
Our SUMS Associate pool work to zero-hours contracts. Although our associates can receive a substantial volume of work each year, there is no guarantee of this because it is dependent on both the assignment pipeline and the areas of specialism in which universities require support. As such, our Associates often have a range of interests outside of SUMS too. Some undertake interim management work. Some are involved in delivering consultancy to other sectors as part of their broader business interests. We actively encourage this on the basis that wider experience can only be good for both SUMS and our clients.
Who Are We Looking For?
We want to speak with people who are interested in delivering consulting work for SUMS on the Associate Consultant basis outlined above.
We are looking for genuine expertise in any and all areas of professional service provision. All our Consultants need to understand the nuances and complexities inherent within the HE sector. They need to be comfortable facilitating sessions and building positive relationships with stakeholders from boards of governors, vice-chancellors, executive teams, professional service functions and academic departments.
Your specialist knowledge is just one part of the picture. To join our team as a SUMS Associate you will need to exhibit the highest levels of professionalism at all times. You’ll need to be energetic, but cool under pressure; innovative, but able to translate that into the politically complex work of HE; a people-person, but comfortable with data and detail. We are looking for creative, dynamic thinkers with excellent interpersonal skills, an appetite for hard work and a commitment to excellence. Ultimately, if you are values-driven and thrive on complex problem-solving, if you share our passion for the sector and if you have outstanding people skills then we want to hear from you!
You might think we’re asking a lot – and we are. That’s why our expectations are balanced with rewards. We pay our Associates a highly competitive day rate which comfortably equates to a high six-figure salary and we keep this under continuous review. As an Associate, you will be a full member of the SUMS community, with access to our Microsoft Teams sites, our IP and our community of practice groups. You’ll receive a SUMS email address and you’ll be profiled through our web and social media channels. We keep day rates under constant review and, as a minimum, we ensure all our Associates receive an annual uplift to their day rate equivalent to the rise in inflation.
So, what does your success look like? Essentially, we expect all clients who work with us to look back on their engagements and feel confident that the extent of progress would not have been possible without us. We want them to regard SUMS as the gold standard in consultancy for the education sector.
What Essential Competences and Behaviours Do You Need to Join Our Team?
There are some things that are non-negotiable. We hold our Associates to the same high standards as we hold our permanent staff. The following competences and behaviours underpin our, and your, success. We’ve listed them here with examples of how we expect you to demonstrate them:
- A relentless focus on delivering excellence on behalf of the education clients we work with
You consistently bring higher levels of insight, a greater degree of responsiveness and a level of customer service to senior clients that is better than anything they experience in-house.
- The highest standards of verbal and written communication
Your emails and reports are fluent, well-crafted and accessible, free of grammatical errors.
You have a personable and socially competent style that puts clients at ease and leads to meaningful and long-lasting relationships.
- An articulate and reliable ambassador for the SUMS Group
You actively showcase the wider work and capabilities of the SUMS Group to your own networks.
You willingly promote SUMS Group events and insight through social media channels.
You consistently work to defined SUMS standards ranging from our document branding through to our values and behaviours.
- Absolute discretion and trustworthiness
Clients can rely on you to safeguard confidential data, opinions and objectives.
SUMS can rely on you to use our IP only on SUMS assignments and not for interests external to SUMS.
- A commitment to continuous improvement in all that you do
No matter your years of experience, or the extent of your seniority in previous roles, you have a voracious appetite for receiving and taking on board ongoing feedback about your performance.
- At ease with the need for flexibility and adaptability
You are able to accommodate last-minute changes of plan and/or requests for an alternative approach without feeling pressurised or ruffled.
You work just as comfortably as part of a large team as you do when delivering an assignment by yourself.
- Low management and quality assurance overhead
You are proactive and confident in your approach, comfortable in proposing a way forward and enabling your assignment manager to influence it rather than expecting the approach to be provided for you.
Your outputs are of sufficiently high calibre to reduce the burden on your assignment manager and prevent them from needing to make significant interventions in pursuit of higher quality.
How Do You Join Our Team and Become a SUMS Associate?
If you would like to join our team and are confident that you can demonstrate these behaviours and competences, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your CV or complete the form below.
The next stage in the process will be an informal conversation with one of our managing or principal consultants for both parties to get to know each other a little, to talk about the type of work that we’ve got on and to answer any initial questions you might have.
If both parties are happy to move forward, we will arrange a formal interview. Two members of the permanent team will be present, one of which will be the leader of the service area which best represents your experiences and skills. The first part of this interview will be a pseudo client interaction for which you’ll be asked to prepare a two-page briefing paper on a relevant sector issue. You will be asked to talk to this paper for 10 minutes before taking questions. The rest of the interview will explore your experiences and skills in the context of the HE sector and its current challenges, and SUMS as a membership organisation, as well as specific consulting competencies and behaviours as outlined above.