Lucy Omidiran

Originally from Leeds, I completed my undergraduate studies here, before qualifying as a solicitor in 1999. I spent the next eight years working for a firm of solicitors in the city, handling family law and emergency protection work. I returned to Leeds in May 2018 after almost a decade working overseas in West Africa in global human resources.

While overseas, I worked as HR Manager for the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Nigeria. IITA is a non-profit institution that generates agricultural innovations to meet Africa’s challenges of hunger, malnutrition, poverty and natural resource degradation. I was responsible for the expatriate employees who came from 49 different countries across the world.

Here at the University my role is HR Officer, International, and I am implementing the international agenda of the university. This entails shaping the approach to international working and global mobility, I will be developing and implementing policies and processes associated with University staff working overseas. 

What is the international agenda?

Deputy Vice-Chancellor: International,  Professor Hai-Sui Yu, says: "The key to making Leeds a successful international university has been to attract the brightest international students and staff to Leeds and support world-class research collaborations and build strategic partnerships with leading international institutions.” 

He also said: “Leeds is a truly global university. We can contribute most effectively to sharing knowledge, innovation and education worldwide by building productive, mutually beneficial relationships with researchers, universities and other organisations in key countries.”

We are working towards the achievement of the International Leeds strategy, and aiming to position the University as a dynamic, agile and outward-looking institution, welcoming the best international staff, and increasing global mobility. 

In my role, I will be working in three main priority areas:

  1. There are already many highly-valued international staff at the University and, as part of the strategy, this number will increase. The global reach of the University, in terms of attracting, developing and retaining international staff, will be broadened, and innovative methods of attracting global talent will be deployed.
  2. The second area of focus for my work is to research and establish a framework for more structured overseas assignments. We will review the current provision, carry out some bench marking, and ensure what the University is offering is attractive and in line with global best practice. 
  3. International assignments have implications in terms of tax and social security, both for international staff coming to the University, and for University staff considering assignments overseas. Alongside external advisors, Leeds is working to establish a bank of country-specific guidance relating to potential tax liabilities. 
What are the benefits of recruiting internationally?

The benefits of an international and diverse workforce are well known. The blending of ideas and perspectives from various backgrounds and cultures gives the opportunity for creativity and innovation that can be lacking in a homogenous workforce. Diversity can help to create a rich and fulfilling workplace culture in which the sharing of different global perspectives and ideas benefits all members of staff.

Recruiting internationally also gives access to a far wider talent pool, especially useful for niche or specialist positions. International staff also bring with them networks of contacts from all over the world, and thus, the opportunity for high value international research collaboration. 

What support do we offer international applicants in relocating to the UK?

The reception and welcome offered to new international staff is designed to ensure they receive enough information and support to enable them (and their families in some cases) to settle quickly and comfortably into their new home and work.

We are operating a buddy system whereby an existing member of staff agrees to be a point of contact, and provide guidance and advice to the incoming member of staff during the settling-in period. We also invite new international staff to a dedicated welcome reception hosted by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor: International, and provide information about social and networking events and opportunities designed to help in making friends and meeting people. Members of the international team are available to provide any additional advice or support.

The website for international staff, Relocate@Leeds, provides a wealth of useful information for new international staff, and additional support and guidance materials, a welcome brochure and checklist will be available to ensure that incoming international staff have all the information they need to ensure their relocation is smooth and stress free.

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