Project Description


UPP is the UK’s leading provider of on-campus residential and academic accommodation infrastructure, providing homes to students and helping them make the most of university life. The company develops long-term, bespoke partnerships with world-leading universities.  With approximately 1,000 employees, since 1998 they have provided homes to over 400,000 students. Elaine Hewitt joined UPP as CEO in April 2020, with an aim to build on UPP’s success and drive a commercial culture for exceptional performance.

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How People Business assisted the client

People Business partnered with UPP to deliver a ‘Transformational Leadership Programme’ to enable the newly established Senior Leadership Team (SLT) of 30 to lead the changes required. From October 2021 to April 2022, the programme involved a series of ‘home team’ meetings – engaging participants in small groups for open and honest discussions – and three energising and interactive one-day events for the full cohort.

The relationship between the SLT and the Executive team is crucial – if the SLT are to be fully empowered to lead change, their line managers need to step back and take a more strategic focus. The programme prompted the SLT to have regular discussions with the Executive team to build trust and an understanding of how they needed to work together for transformation to be achieved.

The content of the programme included:

  • the mindset needed to give people the confidence to embrace change
  • engaging people with a vision for the future
  • establishing an open feedback culture
  • delegation to promote ownership and innovation
  • managing the conflicts that inevitably arise in times of transformation.

Hogan assessments allowed each participant to gain individual insights to support their personal development focus.

In the final one-day event, CEO Elaine Hewitt reflected upon how noticeable it was that the SLT had become one team. People were collaborating, supporting and challenging each other across the network – and the connection between the Executive team and the SLT was stronger too.

What the client said – feedback from the SLT

“There was a good blend of discussion and activity-based learning … it was established really early on that we could be open and honest and really move things forward together.”

“The programme has left me thoughtful about how I can be a business leader and not just a functional subject matter expert.”

“I want to use conflict as a positive force to encourage innovation, improve productivity and results.”

“I am thoughtful about how I role model leadership and be the change we want to effect.”

“This was a great opportunity to build relationships across the SLT group and network away from the office environment.”