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Chief Executive | University of Southampton Students’ Union

The University of Southampton Students' Union require a new Chief Executive to help enrich the lives of 24,000 student members and guide their excellent team of staff and students through a period of change.

  • Location: Southampton
  • Salary: Up to £90,000 + great pension and benefits (including support with relocation)

About the role

We’re SUSU, the University of Southampton Students’ Union. We are a registered charity with £7m income. We exist to provide representation, support and a comprehensive range of opportunities for students to enhance their experience whilst at the University.

It’s no secret that COVID-19 has had a huge impact on both the education and charity sectors, however our determination to secure the best possible outcomes for our students will never change.

We have been working hard to ensure that students are able to progress in their studies in an appropriate way, exit expensive rental contracts, build online communities and address the complex life issues that can arise during a time of crisis.

It is essential that we find a Chief Executive who can thrive in a challenging and fast evolving environment where change is constant.

We are in a healthy financial position, although you will need to help us maximise opportunities to ensure that we have a sustainable future. You will also help us ensure that we modify our services, digitise and allocate our resources to have the most effect in meeting today’s needs.

We are developing an interim strategy to focus us through the challenges of the next 12-18 months. Beyond that you will lead and develop our next multi-year strategic plan.

Who we are looking for

We are proud of our Investors in People Silver accreditation, demonstrating our strong commitment to our people. Our next Chief Executive needs to be a master communicator with experience leading other leaders and with a strong commitment to developing people. Leading change in a way that continues to support, empower and develop the amazing staff, volunteers and Sabbatical Officers is critical.

You are likely to have senior leadership experience in complex, dynamic and socially focused organisation and a track record of successfully leading change.

This is a fantastic opportunity to work in a progressive, vibrant and ever-changing environment, alongside a team of superb people who are motivated to do everything within their power to support students.

We are unapologetically proud to be inclusive, diverse and brave in tackling discrimination. It is essential that you are committed to reducing inequality, driving inclusion and removing the systemic barriers that face underrepresented and marginalised groups.

If you are inspired by the job, we highly recommend you contact Peridot for an informal discussion and background on the role:

Bill Yuksel | 07801 897063 | bill@peridotpartners.co.uk

Benefits of Working at SUSU

We recognise our people are our greatest assets and offer a number of benefits as part of our package:

  • Annual leave of 44 days, including a week at Christmas and Easter (including public holidays)
  • Generous contributory pension scheme, with 10% employer contribution
  • A relocation expenses package of up to £2,000 for essential expenditure, subject to criteria
  • Attractive contractual family leave options after six-months service for new parents

If you would like to know more about this role please contact Bill Yuksel

View profile

Dear Candidate,

As President of the University of Southampton Students’ Union I would like to thank you for your interest in the Chief Executive role and introduce you to who we are!

As a Students’ Union, our role is to work in partnership with the University to ensure that students are getting the best possible experience at University.  We do this on behalf of around 24,000 students spread out across all 7 campuses, who are automatically members of our Students’ Union when they come to the University to study.

This work is supported by our 80 permanent staff, 5 elected sabbatical officers, and over 300 student support staff. On top of this, we have hundreds of fantastic student part-time officers who volunteer their time to making the student experience better.

In a nutshell, our mission is ‘To unlock the potential and enrich the life of every student’.

Our work is split into four key areas: Representation, Opportunities, Support and Places


Our primary purpose as a Students’ Union is to represent the diverse needs of our student body. This work is led by our Sabbatical Officers, a team of 5 elected students who work full time to improve student experience. As well as me, this includes Vice President Education and Democracy, Vice President Welfare and Community, Vice President Sports and Vice President Activities.

However, we can’t represent all students alone! We work with hundreds of student officers who volunteer part time alongside their degree. This includes course reps, club and society committees, halls reps and many more! You can find out more information about who we all are and what we do here: Your officers.


We also have over 300 clubs and societies. These include everything from Human Powered Submarine, Quidditch (If you’re not sure what that is, look it up muggle!). We have over 11,000 of our students involved in clubs and societies and last year were ranked 9th in the WhatUni Student Choice Awards for our activity!


We offer a number of vital support services to help get students through even the most challenging times at University.

The Advice Centre: This compromises of 5 fully trained advisors who provide free, confidential and practical advice on academic, financial and housing issues which is independent from the University.

Nightline: A free, confidential and independent listening service which operates 8pm-8am.

SUSU Lettings: We operate our own lettings agency which aims to provide students with an easy way to get high quality housing by working with reputable landlords in the city of Southampton.


We also have a number of commercial outlets for people to eat, drink, relax and socialise in. This includes The Stags (our Union pub), The Bridge (our bistro restaurant), The Shop.

Our newest addition is The Plant Pot- our vegan and vegetarian café and zero waste shop! We opened in September 2019 as a response to the huge student push for increased action on sustainability. We believe businesses and organisations, like us, should be taking the responsibility to reduce their carbon footprint and make a positive contribution to the planet and this is our first step towards that.

So, what are we looking for in a Chief Executive?

With all that to consider, you are probably wondering who the “right person” to lead our SU might look like. We are looking for someone who:

  • Can lead the development of our next strategic plan and ensure it is implemented effectively.
  • Can inspire our various teams to deliver excellent services despite any challenges we face.
  • Has the skills to work with various stakeholders and be heavily engaged with the University community as well as the wider Higher Education sector.
  • Can consider the needs of a changing student demographic, including postgraduate and international students.
  • Will embed sustainability, equality and diversity in their work and leadership.
  • Most importantly, cares deeply about supporting students and student officers to help make the student experience at the University of Southampton the best it can be.

We believe our Students’ Union is a great place for our new Chief Executive to develop and flourish, whilst building on our strong foundations to take our organisation to the next level. If you want to work in an impactful and fun organisation that makes a difference, then this is the place for you!

If you think the above sounds like you or would like further information about the role and our organisation, please contact Peridot! Thank you for taking the time to read this and I wish you all the best of luck.

Emily Harrison
SUSU President and Chair of the Board of Trustees

Who we are

Our Mission

To unlock the potential and enrich the life of every student.

Our Values

Student Led

  • We are student led, democratic, inclusive, and unified
  • We actively and professionally represent our members


  • We are brave, innovative, and committed
  • We are ready to meet future challenges


  • We respect our members, staff and partners
  • We will deliver and be respected by all


  • We appreciate, understand, serve and empower our members

Our Vision

Our Vision 2020 identified the key areas of work that the Students’ Union needed to focus on to continue to deliver improvements in quality of life for all students, with the ambition of being ranked as a top five students’ union in the UK.

We aspired to:

  • Be student led, inclusive, committed and fully engaged with all of our members and key stakeholders
  • Be a brave organisation that encourages and cultivates innovative ideas and activities
  • Be the informed and legitimate voice of our members
  • Be adaptable, proactive, relevant and an essential part of each student’s experience, empowering each one to be an exceptional member of society
  • Create a fun, safe and supportive environment with a strong sense of community
  • Help our members gain lasting friendships, have great experiences and create memories for life
  • Exceed the expectations of our members
  • Have a great reputation for our achievements and ambition

Our Strategic Priorities

Our overarching strategic priorities are:

Representation: Representing students’ academic and non-academic interests in the Students’ Union and the university and actively encouraging student feedback to inform the development of our offer and to lobby the University for change.

Opportunities to engage: Ensuring our offer, services and activities reach students of various cohorts at all campuses, and barriers to engagement are actively reduced.

Member satisfaction: Designing everything we do with the student experience in mind, maximising and measuring the positive impact and development in every interaction with students, whilst also being transparent about our limitations.

To access a full job description and application details,
please fill out the form below.


If you would like an informal conversation around the role, please contact our advising consultants at Peridot Partners:

Bill Yuksel, Business Manager, on 07801 897063 or bill@peridotpartners.co.uk.

To apply, please submit a CV and supporting statement (the supporting statement should be a maximum of two sides of A4) that clearly outlines your suitability for the role against the criteria provided in the person specification. It would also be helpful to provide an explanation of your interest and motivation in applying for this position within your supporting statement.

Please ensure that your application is emailed to response@peridotpartners.co.uk inserting “Chief Executive, SUSU” into the subject field.

We wish to encourage applications regardless of race, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origins, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender reassignment, marital or civil partner status, pregnancy or maternity, age or religion or belief. All applications will be considered solely on merit.

Disabled applicants are invited to contact us in confidence at any point during the recruitment process to discuss steps that could be taken to overcome operational difficulties presented by the job, or if any adjustments or support are required regarding the recruitment process.


Closing date: 9am, Wednesday 20th May 2020
Longlisting: by Wednesday 27th May
Interviews: Monday 1st, Tuesday 2nd & Wednesday 3rd June
Shortlisting: 11am, Friday 12th June
Final interviews: Friday 19th June

Equal Opportunities Monitoring

Peridot and SUSU are committed to promoting equality and diversity. To help us raise awareness and support a culture that is diverse and recognises and develops the potential of all, we need to appreciate the profile of candidates who apply for positions. We would therefore be most grateful if you would complete this equality monitoring form.

The information will be treated confidentially and anonymously and will help us to support our commitment to fair recruitment practice. All information provided will be held in the strictest confidence and will not be shared with anyone, in line with the new Data Protection Act 2018 launched on 25 May 2018. The information provided does not form part of the decision-making process and will not affect your application.

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