Stef Hartley CEO, placed by Peridot, on how they supported UCLan SU to deliver financial support, student empowerment and diversity and representation to  students.

Students’ unions are here to add value to students’ lives throughout their time studying and beyond. They work with and challenge universities to do better, offering opportunities to add a rich texture to the student experience and giving students the platform and tools to campaign for wider societal change within a microcosm of the bigger world. A particular students’ union that exemplifies the work of the wider student movement is the University of Central Lancashire Students’ Union (UCLan SU).

At the start of 2022, Peridot was proud to place Stef Hartley as the new CEO at UCLan SU. Since their appointment, Stef has worked to deliver for the Union and its students in many different aspects of university life.

Financial support

Stef played a crucial role in helping UCLan SU collaborate with its partner university to assist students during financially challenging periods, encouraging those with complicated lives to access education and stay once they get there. In partnership with sabbatical officers, Stef has continued this mission, providing targeted support, advocating for a student-led community fridge scheme, lobbying the local MP on transport costs and expanding access to hardship funds – vital support for UCLan students amidst a cost-of-living crisis.

Student empowerment

Stef has also maintained a focus on student empowerment at the heart of UCLan SU. They have strived to provide the SU’s officer team with more opportunities to lobby the University’s senior management. The Union has facilitated debates and policy discussions via the Students’ Council, resulting in sharing regular information about the teaching strikes to ensure students’ education was protected but solidarity could also be shown.

Diversity and representation

Engaging minority and unreached student groups has been a priority for Stef and their team, who have worked to amplify diverse student voices. The Union’s new ’get together’ scheme has enabled under-represented groups such as black and LGBTQIA+ students to form their own spaces to connect, share and build collective action. A particularly proud moment of minority community solidarity was empowering the Trans Students Representative to hold an on-campus vigil to honour the memory of murdered trans teenager Brianna Ghey.

Stef’s example demonstrates that finding the right leader aligning with the organisation’s values and mission can benefit thousands of people. At Peridot, we are proud of our track record of appointing exceptional individuals who can transform leadership and inspire change in the Students’ Union and the wider not for profit sector.

As a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, Stef has praised the culture at UCLAN. They felt that Peridot effectively highlighted UCLan SU’s vibrancy and diversity during their application process and now they have found a supportive workplace where they can be true to themselves, free from the imposter syndrome that other organisational cultures might induce.


Jonah Graham is a Recruitment Consultant in our Not for Profit Practice. During his time at university, Jonah worked as a campaigner, a Sabbatical Officer and a Trustee. These experiences gave him a deep understanding of the critical role staff and trustees play in investing in student leaders to ensure SUs can continue to do great work, represent students and change society. Committed to empowering diverse talent to join the student movement and the wider third sector, why not connect with Jonah on Linkedin or send him an email.