Katherine Powlesland

Associate Consultant


Katherine brings expertise in consumer and business insight methods to her work in strategy and transformation for Higher Education institutions. These methods range from segmentation, brand health and concept development to meta-analyses and future forecasting.

Katherine joins SUMS from the University of Cambridge where she created and implemented the University’s first Postgraduate Widening Participation strategy. By developing and sharing compelling evidence of barriers to access and participation and delivering nuanced solutions, she secured a pan-institutional commitment to a set of initiatives and processes and a culture that is transforming postgraduate admissions practices.

She has worked extensively to support coordinated EDI planning in the highly devolved postgraduate research space, including across doctoral training partnerships. She is also equally at home with strategy development and bespoke problem-solving in the taught postgraduate and undergraduate spaces, including student recruitment and widening participation, the student journey, teaching and learning, portfolio review, competitive positioning, and institutional strategic vision and planning.

Her 20 years of experience in consumer and business-to-business research was gained both on agency- and client-side, working principally with Unilever, Dulux Paint, Nectar, and BP. She returned to academia as a mature student to undertake a PhD in Italian and the Digital Humanities at Cambridge, going on to teach undergraduates in the Italian Section and the Faculty of English.

She continues to write and publish on her principal academic interest – reading the medieval poet Dante through a lens of video game critical theory – including, most recently this article and a monograph. In her spare time, she is a dedicated yogi and ice skater.