Global Steering Group
Lean HE is run by three Continental Divisions, linked together through a global steering group. Current members of this committee include:


Post holders

Stephen Yorkstone, Chairperson

Senior Consultant, Edinburgh Napier University

Current Role:

Steve currently works in Edinburgh Napier University's lean-type initiative. There he supports staff through rapid improvement events, process reviews, as well as providing consultancy, coaching and training. He is a regular conference speaker on Lean for Higher Education.

Employment History:

Alongside his current role Steve supports a small number of coaching and mentoring clients. in 2006 Steve was one of the first members of then ground breaking University of St Andrews' Lean Team, and he has worked to support other Universities in setting up their Lean initiatives. He is on the editorial board of the Lean Management Journal.

Ask me about:

  • Lean HE 
  • setting up lean
  • lean mentoring for HE

Susanne Clarke, Secretary

Head of Service Excellence and Organisational Change Lead at Bournemouth University (BU)

Current Role:

I provide a strategic focus to developing excellent services and leading change across BU.  I am strongly influenced by the lean ethos of respect for people in building a culture of co-operation and collaboration between staff.  When we get this right and embrace continuous improvement we can’t help but deliver a great service to all in our community. 

Employment History:

As a qualified accountant and organisational performance specialist - implementing lean has played a key role in leading teams that add real value. I first joined BU from the private sector in 2001 as Director of Operations within Faculty and later as Head of Finance and Performance and Deputy Director of Finance for BU. 

Ask me about:

  • Aligned to my passion for lean is an interest in Appreciative Inquiry - contact me to find out more

Telephone: (44) 01202 966101

Continental Division Chairs

Mrs Rachel McAssey, Chairperson Lean HE Europe Continental Division

Head of Process Improvement, The University of Sheffield

Current Role:

  • Help staff improve their business processes
  • Facilitate process improvement projects
  • Deliver lean awareness training

Employment History:

I've worked in Higher Education since 1996, I've held various posts: including allocation and review of European funding for vocational training (Leonardo Da Vinci programme); administrator in an academic department with particular interest in non-standard and flexible programmes; a one year secondment preparing for a Subject Review quality audit and most recently in Registry Services with responsibility for student registration. I joined the Process Improvement Unit in December 2013.

Ask me about:

  • Anything related to process improvement in the HE sector
  • Lean training games

Dr Marilyn Thompson, Chairperson Lean HE Americas Continental Division

Associate Provost Human Resources, University of Waterloo

Current Role:

As a senior executive officer of the University, Marilyn plays a key role in actualizing the University’s strategic plan. She provides vision and HR leadership, acting as the steward of Human Resources to the University’s mission. She leads the HR Departments through policy development and leadership of service delivery portfolios; ensures compliance with legislation; provides guidance and counsel to University management regarding a wide range of HR and employee relations issues; and nurtures a healthy, learning-enriched, and high-performance work culture.

Employment History

Having started her career as a nurse, Marilyn has worked in many executive and senior leadership positions within health care, government and education in both the public and private sectors. Before joining the university, she held executive and senior leadership positions with Eastern Regional Health Authority and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. She has held numerous board appointments representing healthcare, education and the business community. 

Ask Me About

  • Building lean capacity
  • Facilitating process improvement projects
  • Linking lean with service excellence

Valerie Runyan, Conference Host 2017 & Chairperson Lean HE Australasia Continental Division

Director, Business Process Improvement Initiative, Macquarie University
Current Role:
Valerie is the Director of the Business Process Improvement Initiative, a strategic priority in response to the feedback given for the Our University: A Framing of Futures consultation process. The Initiative was developed to deliver on strategic priority seven, " Improving on those aspects of our support services to realise this aspiration and vision." 
Employment History:
Her role is to lead, manage and develop the Business Process Improvement Initiative across the Macquarie university community. Valerie has worked in the Australian HIgher Education Sector for the past 18 years in Victoria, Queensland and NSW. Her previous roles have included the oversight of the divisions and the development of strategy in the areas of student administration, student support, student recruitment, marketing and communications. 

Conference hosts

Lorna Prince, Conference Host 2016

Organisation Development Partner, University of Stirling

Current Role:

Leading organisational development, projects, programmes and initiatives; activities that takes forward the people and teams in the University of Stirling.

Ask me about:

  • Supporting staff to become lean
  • Rolling out lean training
  • Enabling lean leaders
Conference website:

Svein Are Tjeldnes, Conference Host 2018

Project manager/Senior adviser, UiT The Arctic University of Norway

Current role

As project manager of UiT’s improvement initiative, my role is to plan and coordinate activities throughout the university. A crucial part of the job is to inspire colleagues, leaders and students to see the benefits of applying continuous improvement as an element in everyday-university-life. I am also responsible for our portfolio of lean/improvement-courses. In my opinion, a main task is to raise awareness of how important it is to bring our employee’s knowledge and experience to the tip of the change-processes.

Employment History:

I graduated from UiT as a lawyer in 1998, and after a short career as a civil servant in our welfare system, I started working at the university in October 2000 as a student counsellor. From 2002 I have been working as the Administrative Head of Office at The Department of Psychology. In 2013 I was asked to lead UiTs improvement initiative.

Ask me about (or rather: use me as a discussion-partner)

  • Motivation and inspiration for change and improvement
  • How to survive all the small steps necessary in order to get results with a lean initiative
  • Lean training with the use of The Buckingham Service Game

Social Media and Online leads

John Hogg

Director of Continuous Improvement, University of Strathclyde

Current Role:

Leading the Business Improvement Team, John is responsible for managing large scale and/or multiple business improvement projects from inception to completion, and supporting the change management process through regular and informative communications with key project contacts and the wider University community. John regularly facilitates workshops that aim to transfer skills, knowledge and experience of the necessary business improvement tools and techniques that will help sustain and embed a culture of continuous improvement in the University.

Dr Tammi Sinha

Principal Lecturer, University of Winchester

Current Role:

  • Senior Lecturer in Project and Operations Management, University of Winchester
  • Co-Lead Improvement Community of Practice "making it happen, sharing experiences"

Employment History:

Tammi has over 10 years engineering and process improvement experience in the aerospace industry, and 10+ years as an academic and practitioner in lean and operational excellence. Tammi supports organisations through a community of practice of lean practitioners and develops networks and links to enable different sectors to share knowledge and experience. Previously at Portsmouth Business School, she has recently moved to the University of Winchester and is engaging with lean initiatives in the HE and other sectors.

Ask me about:

  • Improvement community of practice
  • Visual management and leadership
  • Lean and operational excellence