Helen Baird

Managing Consultant


Helen specialises in strategy development and review at sector, organisation, functional and departmental levels.  Her expertise spans applied research and evaluation of national policy and of institutional programmes and projects, as well as business change management and target operating model design.

Helen combines her expertise in research and consultancy with deep knowledge and experience of the HE sector landscape, including, the cross-UK policy environment and how universities operate within this. Helen is adept at designing and delivering strategic and organisational reviews for higher education institutions across the UK in areas such as governance, leadership and management, and organisational development.  She is proficient in analysing and synthesising the results to determine critical factors and formulate clear recommendations for clients in well-written and argued reports and presentations.

Helen’s evidence-informed recommendations and advice have helped define and secure strategic and organisational change required for many clients. For example, designing a new operating model for research and innovation management across a large research-intensive university; advising how to improve governance effectiveness at several institutions at quite different stages of governance maturity; reviewing internationalisation for an overseas university and recommending a programme of changes to improve the existing strategy and underpinning operating model; and advising on improvements to the leadership, governance, structure, culture and/or communications within multiple academic schools and departments across various universities.

Helen joined SUMS Consulting in mid-2019 following a 20-year period working for four very different consultancy organisations, predominantly within the higher education sector. In her most recent role as a managing consultant with Advance HE, Helen led the Evaluation of Safeguarding Students Catalyst Projects for the Office for Students.  This evaluation examined the critical success factors, outcomes and lessons learned from the projects, and advised on next steps required at sector and institutional level. She also led a related study for Universities UK, which assessed the sector’s progress on driving cultural change in student safeguarding to brief ministers and sector leaders.

Helen is a PRINCE II Practitioner and has qualifications in applied social research. She lives in Glasgow with her family.

Connect with Helen on social media:
Skype: helenbaird77