Neil Smith

Associate Consultant

Neil has led complex digital, people and cultural change for nearly 20 years in a broad range of sectors, most recently for over three years within HE.

He uses a facilitative, consultative approach to change leadership to bring together professional services staff, academics, students and trade/student unions to solve fundamental organisational challenges. He leads multi-disciplined teams from across the university to combine widely varying skills, knowledge and viewpoints and deliver against ambitious visions for change.

Neil joined SUMS as an associate in 2024 after three years as Director of Professional Services Operations at the University of York where he reported to the Chief Operating Officer. Neil was Head of Department for Executive Operations, the directorate which supported the University’s senior leadership team.

He was the change lead for large University-wide change programmes including the move from a three-term academic year to two semesters and the introduction of a standard module size to increase academic partnership opportunities and interdisciplinary teaching. Neil also led the design and implementation of a shared service approach to administration activity to improve efficiency and effectiveness. He facilitated and coordinated the Professional Services approach to both Covid contingency planning and to addressing financial challenges in the five year professional services budget.

Prior to working in the HE sector, Neil worked in sectors including retail, financial services, travel, infrastructure, health, utilities and local government as a change management consultant for two of the Big 4 consulting firms. He led a variety of change for large organisations, ranging from digital transformation, financial transformation and culture change to performance assessment and improvement and development of change capabilities.

Neil is passionate about health and wellbeing, particularly positive mental health in the workplace. He is a Mental Health First Aider and an advocate for people-centric, empathic and supportive approaches to change leadership and management.

Neil is a trustee at his local Scout Group where he helps to raise funds and govern the group’s activities. He also enjoys keeping fit, DJing and learning new culinary skills then teaching them to his two young daughters.