Paula Sanderson


Paula has recently joined the senior team at Agar. She has held Chief Operating Officer roles at Middlesex University, Queen Mary University of London, SOAS University of London, and the University of Reading Malaysia, as well as senior operations roles at the Universities of Sydney and Exeter.

A positive change agent, Paula has led several complex and challenging transformational change programmes, always incorporating effective programmes of leadership and team development which she considers the key to successful transitions. She is passionate about inclusion and creating psychologically safe cultures to develop and nurture high-performing and accountable teams.

Paula’s doctoral research considered cultural complexity, governance and ethical decision making. With a background in internal and performance audit, she champions data-led strategy. Paula holds a Masters of Tertiary Education Management from the University of Melbourne, a sustainability based MBA and is a Fellow of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants. Paula is undertaking her executive education at the Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) and is a member of the HKS Women and Power network.

Working with Paula Sanderson

“Paula is one of the UK’s leading hands- on experts of university change management, having used her extensive knowledge of HE to conceive, run and deliver several major institutional change projects.

Unrivalled in her knowledge of running professional services across the HE sector, Paula has delivered a series of major university change projects and should be the go to person for any administration considering substantial change.

Having worked across Russell Group and post – 1992 institutions for two decades, Paula combines extensive knowledge of the HE sector from all angles with a proven track record of delivering major change projects.

Having led major change projects at several UK universities, Paula has unrivalled expertise and hands on experience that will be invaluable for teaching, developing, and inspiring the next generation of senior leaders in university professional services management.

Paula has worked in university senior management for nearly two decades. Having led from the front through several major institutional change projects, she has unrivalled experience of finding and nurturing future professional service leaders in all aspects of what is a demanding career in a demanding environment.”

Professor Steve Hopgood, former Provost at SOAS University of London.

“In my 20+ year career I would rate Paula in the top echelon of individuals I have ever had the pleasure to work with. Paula is a great visionary and a person of the highest credibility and ethical standards.

Paula is a true People Leader with a focus on business outcomes with a collaborative approach. With strong people leadership capability and strong analytical and planning skills, Paula was able to successfully deliver a complex business transformation change that involved significant organisational improvement. Given her broad experience, agility and ability to lead large teams Paula is someone I could always turn to as a trusted advisor and mentor.

Paula establishes and maintains trusted relationships accessing her skills at working collaboratively to ensure mutually beneficial outcomes. Her ability to not only understand key and complex issues but to both interpret and convey issues, both up and downstream within organisations, is a major strength and instils respect from peers, colleagues and business professionals alike.”

Nicola Cowley, Leadership Development Program Lead at Lee Hecht Harrison

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