Dr Thomas Owen-Smith



Tom helps leaders navigate complex environments at the intersection of strategy, sustainability, impact and value.

He has supported institutions across the higher education sector to develop organisation-wide strategies, robust plans and transformation agendas, integrating sustainability and societal impact goals with their strategic context. These include approaches enabling universities and the sector to:

  • Move towards becoming sustainable institutions, while navigating an operating environment of growing complexity and risk
  • Be leaders in the transition to a sustainable economy
  • Maximise, identify and communicate the positive impacts and value they create through their education, research and power to bring people together
  • Develop holistic, future-informed and grounded strategies and plans at the whole-organisation and local levels.

Tom joined SUMS in 2022 from King’s College London’s Directorate of Strategy, Planning & Analytics, where he developed high-value initiatives across the university including its corporate strategy, planning framework, and climate and sustainability action plan. Previously, Tom worked in academia, and the development and media sectors in the UK, India and Nepal. Speaking nine languages and with a GDip in International Relations, he is a strong believer in the international mission of universities and their critical role in sustainable development.

After completing his BA in Modern Languages at the University of Oxford, Tom took his postgraduate studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) and completed his PhD in Linguistics there in 2014. He is a qualified Practitioner in PRINCE2 (project management), MSP (programme management) and MoP (portfolio management); and has a mini-MBA from LSE with a focus on strategy and finance.

A lover of languages and mountains, he is passionate about a sustainable future and helping people to achieve their potential.

How has Tom recently supported universities and other organisations?

  • Strategy 2023-2027 – University of Northampton
  • Sustainability Strategy – University of London
  • Culture Change for a Sustainable University – University of Essex (delivered in partnership with EAUC)
  • Materiality Assessment – Ulster University
  • Environmental Sustainability: Benchmarking resources across UK universities – University of Oxford
  • Environmental Sustainability Baseline and Related Services (comprising environmental sustainability baseline and support with strategy, decarbonisation pathway, risk assessment and adaptation plan, training and engagement, monitoring framework) – The Royal Society (delivered in partnership with EAUC and Wild Business).

Tom’s latest publications on strategy, planning and sustainability in HE:

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