The higher education sector is unlike any other.
Training and consultancy that does not take account of the unique working relationship between a university and its students, or the specific regulatory regime that governs the sector, can fall wide of the mark.
All our trainers at Plinth House have significant experience as managers in higher education.
We understand the pressures involved in working in higher education today - including rising demand for support from students, students presenting at higher levels of risk, and colleagues' increasingly complex interactions with other stakeholders, such as students' parents.
We draw upon our practical experience of working in the sector ourselves, as well as our trainers' extensive experience in other sectors - including the NHS, local government and equality/inclusion.
Levi Pay FCMI FIC MAUA
Director & Principal Consultant
An experienced director of student support services, Levi has led service portfolios at King’s College London, Northumbria University, and the University of Leeds. Levi also worked as the Scottish Parliament's lead on equality and diversity issues and as the Equality Challenge Unit's Director of Policy.
Levi delivers training on managing serious welfare incidents, safeguarding, mental health support, and equality issues, and delivers coaching to service managers. Levi's projects involve working with teams across the UK to carry out service reviews and enhance their efficiency and effectiveness. He has delivered projects with universities to ensure all their staff know when and how to refer a student to support services.
Levi has experience of sitting on the boards and advisory groups of a number of higher education organisations. Levi is a Fellow of both the Institute of Consulting and the Chartered Management Institute. He has written and edited articles and publications relating to student support, most recently for the national higher education policy organisation, Wonkhe.
Julie Rea RNMH
Specialist Consultant & Trainer
With twenty-four years' experience in delivering and managing mental health support services in higher education and the NHS, Julie provides training and workshops for staff in universities, schools, customer service, corporate and healthcare settings. The focus of Julie’s work is on promoting mental health awareness, helping people to maintain appropriate boundaries and feel confident in responding to the distress of others.
Julie was head of counselling and mental health support at Northumbria University and now works with the managers of counselling and mental health support services to review and enhance service provision. Julie also offers peer group facilitation for practitioners and clinical supervision.
Prior to working in higher education, Julie worked in the NHS in acute admission inpatient services and as ward manager at a Regional Young People’s Unit. In these roles, Julie routinely carried out mental health assessments, participated in Mental Health Act appeals at tribunal, and mentored student nurses. Julie is a Registered Mental Health Nurse, accredited by the Nursing and Midwifery Council.
Susan O'Donnell BA PGCert
Specialist Consultant & Trainer
Susan has worked in risk management and corporate governance for over 30 years and has particular expertise in safeguarding and Prevent arrangements in higher education.
Prior to joining Plinth House, Susan was Secretary to the Board and Head of Governance at Northumbria University, joining originally as Risk Manager in 2010. Susan led a range of risk-led approaches to wider policy and procedure development for whistleblowing, geopolitical risk management and anti-corruption measures such as fraud, anti-money laundering and international sanctions. Susan was the University’s Executive Lead on Prevent.
After graduating with a degree in Risk Management in 1991, Susan’s early career was spent in risk management consultancy, working with a range of private and public sector bodies, with risk and insurance advisers, Sedgwick (now Marsh plc), after which she moved into local government where her Risk Manager roles increasingly saw her involved in wider corporate governance projects and initiatives.
Susan has held a number of non-executive board positions, including with South Tyneside Homes and, most recently, as Company Secretary of the Newcastle Meditation and Mindfulness Centre.
William Brown BSc (Hons)
Digital and Development Coordinator
William has worked extensively in the areas of organisational development, content production, project management and engagement over the past twenty years, within both the creative industries and higher education sector.
Between 2002 and 2015, William worked in video games development for leading global publisher, Ubisoft, as part of art, design and production teams. Initially a content creator, his role expanded into project management, recruitment and organisational development. In his most recent role at the Ubisoft Reflections studio, William delivered and coordinated initiatives to support learning, training and career development needs with managers and discipline leads across the organisation.
Taking his career in a new direction, William graduated with first class honours in Geography and Environmental Management in 2018, after which he joined Newcastle University’s Sustainability team in 2018. As Sustainability Officer in the Estates & Facilities service, William worked with colleagues and students through engagement and participation programmes, policy development, sustainability auditing and project delivery, and supported the University in its continued achievement of First Class Honours in the People and Planet University League.
William joined Plinth House in 2023, applying his technical, artistic and organisational development experience to produce digital training and learning for teams, services and institutions, working closely with colleagues from our client organisations and our team of specialist consultants and trainers.