The Interview UK
The University of Oxford
Markos Koumaditis

Markos Koumaditis

Good leadership and people management come from great collaboration. Oftentimes the experience that Higher Education (HE) professionals bring plays a huge part in how that is exercised.

Markos Koumaditis, Human Resources Director at the University of Oxford, sits down with GoodCourse Co-founder Chris Mansfield to discuss his experience working in the House of Commons prior to his work in HE and how it has influenced the way he engages with staff and students in a positive and impactful way. 

Markos's Journey

Chris: What brought you to people leadership?

It was not planned — I studied history and aimed to be an academic.  However, I was very interested in social history, and I was naturally drawn to professions that were collaborative and people-focused. I loved roles where I could use empathy and life experiences, and create positive effects.  It’s certainly not for everyone, but I am very comfortable in this space.

Chris: I know you previously worked in the House of Commons — what have you brought with you from this into your work now?

It was such a privilege to work there, just like it is to work at Oxford, and I am so lucky to have had that experience. It was a wonderful place to work, and more diverse than people think; the diversity of professions within that space certainly came as a shock to me.  I felt such a sense of pride that my work contributed to the bigger picture.

I learned a lot of resilience in that role — dealing with stress and pressure.  My role was about supporting others and learning to be diplomatic at all times. I had to be very responsible with information because information is power.  A lot of what I do is about bringing people together to have conversations that solve things; it’s never about simply telling others what to do.

Chris: How do you find navigating a more decentralised structure within a university where individual departments have more power over decision-making?

It was a challenge, to begin with; Oxford is different from other universities because of the collegiate system meaning some of it is completely decentralised. I really put myself out there to visit all divisions and understand the local experience.  This can actually be a great experience; devolved structures might be seen as a barrier, but I think it can be really positive. The word I use all the time is ‘collaboration’; it’s all about working together as equals and deciding together whether something should be delivered centrally or locally.

The word I use all the time is ‘collaboration’; it’s all about working together as equals and deciding together whether something should be delivered centrally or locally.

There are a lot of colleges, so it takes time, but I always want to work together within them and for the wider community too.  It doesn't matter where you are, we are all one unit, and when things happen, it affects all of us.

Chris: How do you foster a sense of inclusion and belonging in a place with time-poor staff?

It’s certainly a challenge and a journey; especially coming out of Covid, which has been the largest cultural challenge we have faced in the workplace.  One of the main things that happened when I first arrived was the launch of a new well-being strategy.  It is a collection of online resources combined with opportunities for people to have real conversations with one another.

Then there is EDI, for which we were awarded a silver award by Athena Swan which is an amazing achievement for the university; one that we worked extremely hard for.  There is a lot we do for equality, and we are so proud of that, but there is still so much we need to achieve too.

Thirdly, there is how we help people to develop their careers. We have introduced several tools like community practice where people can learn from each other and bring people together, connecting them to the wider university. 

Chris: How do you lead a team through the later stages of the new normal after Covid?

I went through the pandemic in the House of Commons, which was a surreal experience because we moved everything to Microsoft teams.  This actually sped up our digital transformation journey and had some positive effects. Meetings became more inclusive for those who didn't feel comfortable speaking up in person, which is amazing.  For me, that is the legacy of coming out of Covid.

For the university, much of the experience is about the physical space we offer here on campus.  However, we introduced new working methods during Covid, much of which we have kept going.  Flexible work is here to stay, in my opinion, and that has become very important to people.  At the same time, we need to strike a happy medium between the two, and it has to be business need driven as well as taking into consideration the need of the individual.  That is how we are going to move forward as an institution from now on.

3 Quick-fire Questions

Chris: What is your top tip for how to foster a culture of learning and growth?

We’re all learning all the time.  We need to lead by example and invest in that learning from the beginning. 

Chris: What is the best career advice you have ever had?

Your career is a marathon, not a sprint — be careful not to burn out.

Chris: What is the most important book or piece of literature you have read?

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig.  It’s about how making certain choices can cause you to live a completely different life.  It shows that you need to think about the choices you make, but if you don’t make the right one, then you can always adapt.

Curious to see what the future of training looks like?
Chris Mansfield
Client Services
Chris is one of the Client Service leads at GoodCourse, dedicated to helping institutions better engage their audience to create a more inclusive, safer, and more successful environment. To request to be featured on the series, get in touch at

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