About Us



Applied Inspiration is a global facing advisory firm providing capability development to people, teams and institutions in the education sector and those who see education as empowerment.

We work with education providers, government agencies, communities and corporations to review, develop, design and deliver programmes which are empowering, innovative, engaging, experiential and client-focused.

We have operations in the United Kingdom and Australia, enabling us to share best-practice across the two regions.

Our expertise is focused on the development of high-performance capability focused on:

  • Coherent strategic alignment of programmes and activities to achieve the overarching corporate goals and strategy
  • Application of best-practice design principles that accounts for contextual factors while maintaining high-performance capability
  • Results focusing on return on investment

Our team includes a highly respected higher education leaders, including former Vice-Chancellors, DVC Academic and HE Senior Executives, Academics and Researchers, as well as extensive management consulting and legal experience, enabling us to provide a contextually relevant, independent assessment and solutions.

Advisory & Capability Building Solutions

Strategic Advisory, Review & Analysis Services

Supporting organisational review and evaluation, development transformation and change. We have developed a unique range of frameworks, models and programmes to support improvements in organisational effectiveness and efficiency; programme and initiative design; strategy building; and innovation and productivity. Our advisory expertise is focused on the development of high-performance capability in the areas of:

  • Effectiveness, efficiency and return in investment from student recruitment, outreach and student success portfolios
  • Review and evaluation, data analysis and performance assessment and benchmark programme development
  • Organisational unit, directorate and programme review, restructures and return on investment and performance improvement
  • Programme and initiative development and project management

Outreach, Widening Participation & Recruitment

Enabling young people to set, achieve, exceed and renew their learning aspirations, enabling them on a learning journey that lasts a lifetime and includes progression to higher education. We design, develop and deliver a range of programmes and initiatives particularly in the areas of outreach and widening participation in the education sector, focused on programme design, career and education pathways, participation and access. We also have a range of products that are available to licence or buy. These include:

  • Outreach and access programmes and activities (including HE experience sessions, taster days, enrichment sessions, campus visits, capacity building across the “5As” of raising awareness and achievement; supporting aspiration, access and affordability to further and higher education)
  • [Uni]FIT resources kit, which equips and supports secondary school students for university life and beyond. This product is focused on higher education pathways and capability building for students from Y7-Y13
  • Professional development and training for delivery staff and other key stakeholders
  • Student Mentoring and coaching
  • Student and Teacher Residential Camps
  • Our signature Pop-Up Academies (discipline-focused)
  • Parents programme for supporting access to higher education

For more information contact Emma Thomas.

The Core Team

Led by two outstanding executives in co-founders Sean Johnson and Emma Thomas, the Applied Inspiration team includes visionaries and internationally recognised thought leaders in student success, engagement, employability, change management and transformation, educational institution innovation and social entrepreneurship.

  • Sean Johnson

    Sean Johnson

    Managing Director


    Sean Johnson

    Executive Director, LLB, MBA, GCertEd

     

    Sean Johnson is a founding partner of Applied Inspiration. He has portfolio responsibility for the Advisory Services. He has led the review and transformation projects with a number of universities based on a unique methodology drawing on his expertise in complex problem solving. Sean is an experienced professional with an extensive career in the higher education sector having held both academic and professional leadership positions. Sean is a very dynamic leader and strategist.



  • Emma Thomas

    Emma Thomas

    Managing Director


    Emma Thomas

    Executive Director, LLB, M.Ed (Hons)

     

    Emma Thomas is a founding partner of Applied Inspiration and has leadership responsibility for the Learner Journey portfolio. Emma is an internationally recognised expert in student services program development and delivery focusing on education and community engagement. Emma has worked in the higher education sector in both the United Kingdom and Australia. Emma has significant expertise and a proven track record in the field of program strategy, development and execution. She has a significant record of advocacy for improved practice in the field of widening participation, and is experienced in leading and managing careers and employability portfolios, and developing student experience and success agendas across the student journey (recruitment, success and progression).



  • Prof. Chris Gaskell

    Prof. Chris Gaskell CBE

    Advisor


    Prof. Chris Gaskell CBE

    Advisor, BVSc, PhD

     

    Emeritus Professor Gaskell was formerly the Vice Chancellor of the Royal Agricultural University where he led the transformation of the institution from a College to University status. He has overseen the repositioning of the University into a leading innovative institution for agricultural education, including a bold strategy to develop a number of campus based innovation facilities focusing on agritech.



  • Prof. Les Ebdon

    Prof. Sir Les Ebdon CBE DL

    Advisor


    Prof. Sir Les Ebdon CBE DL

    Advisor, BSc, PdhD

     

    Professor Sir Ebdon has been the Director of Fair Access to Higher Education since 1 September 2012 until April 2018. He was previously Vice Chancellor of the University of Bedfordshire. That followed an illustrious career in analytical chemistry, including more than 250 publications and several awards. Professor Sir Ebdon obtained his PhD at Imperial College, London, then lectured at Makerere University in Uganda and Sheffield Hallam University, before becoming Reader in Analytical Chemistry at what is now the University of Plymouth. He was promoted to a personal chair in 1986, became Head of Environmental Sciences in 1989 and then, in the same year, Deputy Director. He was promoted to Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic) in 1992. He remained in that position until 2003, when he was appointed Vice Chancellor at the University of Luton and became Vice Chancellor of the University of Bedfordshire on its creation in 2006. Professor Sir Ebdon was awarded a CBE in 2009 for services to local and national higher education and was appointed Deputy Lieutenant of Bedfordshire in 2011. Since 2013 he has been listed as one of Britain’s 500 Most Influential People by Debrett’s and in 2018 recieved a knighthood for his services to higher education.



  • Nadine Zacharias

    Dr Nadine Zacharias

    Advisor


    Dr Nadine Zacharias

    Advisor, BBA, GCHE, MBA, PhD

     

    Dr Nadine Zacharias is Senior Research Fellow at the NCSEHE and was an inaugural Equity Fellow in 2016. Nadine’s research interests and expertise are at the intersection of equity research, practice and policy at institutional and national levels. She has led applied research projects in the fields of equity policy and program management, inclusive teaching and learning and gender equity in employment. Nadine was Director, Equity and Diversity at Deakin University from 2011 to 2016 where she led one of the most integrated and effective Equity teams in Australian higher education.



  • Sally Kift

    Prof. Sally Kift

    Advisor


    Prof. Sally Kift

    Advisor, PFHEA

     

    Sally Kift is a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (PFHEA), a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Law (FAAL) and elected President of the Australian Learning and Teaching Fellows (ALTF). From 2012-2017, she was Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) at James Cook University. Prior to commencing at JCU in 2012, Sally was a Professor of Law at Queensland University of Technology, where she also served as Law Faculty Assistant Dean, Teaching & Learning (2001-2006) and QUT’s foundational Director, First Year Experience (2006-2007). Sally is a national Teaching Award winner (2003) and national Program Award winner (2007). She was awarded a Senior Fellowship by the Australian Learning and Teaching Council (ALTC) in 2006 to investigate the first year experience and is currently a Discipline Scholar in Law. In 2017, Sally was awarded an Australian Award for University Teaching Career Achievement Award for her contribution to Australian higher education. Sally is a VC’s Fellow at Victoria University and an Adjunct Professor at JCU, La Trobe University and QUT.



  • Jackie Powell

    Jackie Powell

    Advisor


    Jackie Powell

    Advisor, Pg.Dip.CG, B.Ed

     

    Jackie has extensive experience in management and leadership across educational sectors, with a focus on developing strategy to support progression to higher education and higher level skills. Particular expertise in the management and implementation of Information, Advice and Guidance to support progression. Qualified teacher, lecturer and careers adviser. Specialties: Educational programme and project planning, management and implementation; staff development and training; partnership and liaison; further and higher education; information, advice and guidance services.



  • Zachary Fook

    Zachary Fook

    Innovation Manager


    Zachary Fook

    Innovation Manager, BBusMan

     

    Zac provides project management and outcome-centric delivery across advisory and learner journey services, in particular projects relating to innovation and change. Drawing from his experiences in social innovation, entrepreneurship, marketing and NGO development, Zac leverages his technical and people skills to ensure Applied Inspiration over delivers for clients every time.



  • Sally Greenwood

    Sally Greenwood

    Engagement Manager


    Sally Greenwood

    Engagement Manager, BAGeo (First)

     

    Sally has six years’ experience managing projects from within the higher education and voluntary sectors. Sally has championed and led educational programs to inspire young people with the employee-volunteering charity York Cares, the University of York and UWE Bristol. These have included student-led initiatives, on-campus and residential activities and mentoring projects. Sally has excellent experience working with university widening participation departments to deliver activities for disadvantaged communities, applying a deep understanding of policy and good practice.



  • Eleanor Gordon-Martin

    Eleanor Gordon-Martin

    Engagement Co-ordinator


    Eleanor Gordon-Martin

    Engagement Co-ordinator, BSc

     

    Ellie has experience working in education, sales and promotion, creating programmes for local schools and educational community initiatives. She has managed a tuition centre where she employed and directed tutors to raise the attainment of students’ Maths and English skills. In the tuition industry, Ellie interacted with parents and community providers to deliver educational presentations and sessions to young people from diverse backgrounds. Ellie engages with our partner institutions to inspire students to progress through and thrive in their educational pathway.



  • Kara Minto-Simpson

    Kara Minto-Simpson

    Engagement Officer


    Kara Minto-Simpson

    Engagement Officer, BSc, MSc

     

    Kara proactively engages in the formation and maintenance of partnerships between local and national schools and HE providers with a particular interest and focus on career pathways within the agricultural sector. Kara develops and delivers workshops and educational sessions that inspire future generation to pursue life long learner journeys.



  • Dan Blyth

    Dan Blyth

    Analyst


    Dan Blyth

    Analyst, BA

     

    Dan brings an extensive background in the analytics and reporting field and possesses a wealth of technical knowledge across a variety of BI platforms. Dan has applied his analytics and reporting skills across a range of businesses – and this wide ranging exposure, across retail, operations, supply chain and others has given Dan all the tools to transform data into rich, actionable insight.



  • Lucy Roberts

    Lucy Roberts

    Admin Assistant and Education Ambassador


    Lucy Roberts

    Admin Assistant and Education Ambassador, BSc

     



  • Nancy Johnson

    Nancy Johnson

    Administration Manager


    Nancy Johnson

    Administration Manager, BEd (Hons), BEcon, MGT

     

    Nancy Johnson is a former teacher, education researcher, business manager and award-winning food entrepreneur.



  • Mikaela Dockrill

    Mikaela Dockrill

    Outreach Advisor


    Mikaela Dockrill

    Outreach Advisor, BCA, MSW

     

    Over the past 10 years, Mikaela has worked with schools, colleges and the community in Australia to support the education and aspirations of young people from diverse backgrounds. Mikaela finds it an extremely rewarding experience to work with young people and adults from all backgrounds, supporting them to realise their capacity to achieve, grow and keep learning!



  • Kate Penney

    Kate Penney

    Academic Developer


    Kate Penney

    Academic Developer, BA, MA

     

    Kate is an experienced project manager and educator. She has extensive experience and interest in the relationship between education, training, and career progression and its direct link to the economy and society (and vice versa). She has experience as a Widening Participation Projects Manager, Senior Lecturer and Project Coordinator in the education sector, with a focus on aspiration, enterprise and entrepreneurship, employability and accessing of opportunity. Kate is a strong and passionate advocate for fair access and success in education, flowing through to positive career outcomes.