Ellie Highwood

Associate Consultant


Ellie is an expert in Diversity and Inclusion, including HR and leadership.  She specialises in strategy development and review, action plan implementation, and support for diversity and inclusion leaders.

Ellie uses a combination of diversity and inclusion expertise and academic leadership experience to help clients within HE develop meaningful Diversity and Inclusion strategies and action plans. An accredited facilitator and professionally certified coach, she can provide both desk-based research (quantitative and qualitative based) and more interactive strategy development sessions.

Ellie joined SUMS consulting in January 2020 having established her own Diversity and Inclusion consultancy in August 2019 following taking voluntary redundancy from the University of Reading. In over 20 years at the University of Reading, Ellie went from being a postdoctoral researcher to Professor of Climate Physics and Head of Department of the world-renowned Department of Meteorology. Her background in quantitative analysis, research funding and project management, teaching and staff development all contribute to the rounded view she can give SUMS clients.

Ellie’s last four years at Reading from 2015-2019 were as Dean for Diversity and Inclusion – a University leadership team position that she held as a job share. During that time, the University successfully renewed its Bronze level institutional Athena SWAN recognition which had been under threat.  Broader diversity and inclusion activities included the introduction of aspiration targets for gender balance, and a full analysis of the extent to which race and ethnicity impacted on staff and student experience and attainment at Reading.  Awareness of and involvement in diversity and inclusion activities expanded greatly across the University during her time in post.

Ellie has worked extensively with the Athena SWAN charter run by Advance-HE both as an applicant but also being a member of the charter advisory group and now a charters associate. Her particular interests like in gender, race and religion – she successfully secured permission for the first Muslim chaplain position at the University of Reading.

Ellie is a STEM Ambassador, volunteering to bring practical science opportunities to primary schools. She has a long association with the Royal Meteorological Society, having served on Council for a total of 10 years, and been President from 2016-2018.

Ellie is a Member of the Association of Coaching and holds Accreditation Level 1 from the Association of Facilitation.