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Dr Sara Ward is Director of Strategy & Performance for Executive Education at Saïd Business School, University of Oxford. She is a highly experienced academic administrator who has contributed significantly to the development of the school in a number of senior roles.
Sara’s responsibilities are to protect the significant successes of Executive Education in recent years, including growth in clients and programmes, through safeguarding performance-levels in programme design, development and delivery, combined with the development and implementation of the school’s strategy for Executive Education in the next five years. Sara is also responsible for leading the School’s bid for institutional accreditation for its Executive Education provision. Prior to this role Sara has held a number of senior administrative posts including Deputy Chief Operating Officer and Director of Academic Services for the School and was Chief Executive of the University of Oxford’s Institute for Science, Innovation and Society from 2004 to 2010.
Sara brings to her role an innate understanding of the importance of both academic enquiry and professional administration in delivering interventions in the careers of senior leaders and executives which are transformational for them and their organisations. This understanding is derived from Sara’s early career as a researcher in the field of natural sciences combined with more recent experiences at the senior levels of academic administration. Sara gained her PhD in Biochemistry and Genetics from University College London in 1991. She was Research Fellow at St Mary’s Hospital Medical School, University of London from 1991 to 1993 and was Senior Research Fellow at the Institute from Child Health at the University of London from 1993 to 1999.
Sara’s expertise lies in working across academic and administrational structures to implement organisational change or new governance procedures but also in pioneering new and innovative approaches to teaching, research and public engagement. Her achievements range from leading the planning and delivery of the first James Martin World Forum in 2006 to the implementation of the 1st MBA Capstone Course at Oxford in 2008. Amongst her organisational development work she has been involved in devising school governance structures at the School as well as working on the scoping and provision for a number of the School and University research centres.
Sara spent eight years in natural sciences research at the University of London. This background, combined with her administrational and commercial experience, has made her a natural choice to supervise graduate students taking the University of Oxford Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences (MPLS) Division and the Oxford Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation joint programme, Science Innovation Plus (SIP), providing training for graduate research students and post-docs/research fellows in Enterprise and Entrepreneurship. Participants on this course are asked to write a paper discussing the potential commercialisation of their research, its impact on the economy and/or society, the potential for research dissemination, or other aspects of Knowledge Transfer.
In the Executive Education arena the School is currently planning research to analyse the impact of its interventions on individual leaders and their organisations. In turn she will also seek new ways to help faculty bring their research to the practitioner audience through conferences and executive education programmes. In her capacity as Director of Strategy & Performance Sara is responsible for using research both to understand the impact of executive development interventions on individuals and their organisations, and to use this knowledge to inform the School’s strategic direction for its Executive Education provision in the next five years.
As Head of Strategy & Performance Sara is responsible, in support to the Associate Dean for Executive Education, for the impact that Executive Education provision has on individuals and the organisations they work for, and in turn the broader networks served by these organisations. She is responsible for ensuring that the standard of this provision stays at its previous high levels and that the School continues to be seen as a centre of excellence in Executive Education via external rankings such as the Financial Times Executive Education Rankings and also through EQUIS accreditation (European Quality Improvement System) which is being sought from EFMD (European Foundation for Management Development).
In previous roles Sara has continuously sought to bring together the worlds of research and academia with those of management and society at large. Highlights of this engagement include:
Saïd Business School
University of Oxford
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