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


Team at the Lean HE 2018 AGM

Team at the Lean HE AGM 2018

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
  • facilitation
  • 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

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, 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

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
Conference website:

Krista Schulte, Conference Host 2019

Lean Performance Consultant, University of Michigan

Current Role:

Krista leads the planning, implementation, and evaluation of Lean programs for the University of Michigan’s academic campus. She uses a variety of consulting, team building, project management, and training & development strategies to enable and engage staff..

Employment History:

She has 20 years of engineering and process improvement experience in the automotive industry. Krista transitioned to HE when she joined the University of Michigan in 2015 to develop the newly formed Lean effort in the Business & Finance division (IT, Facilities, Operations, HR, Finance). In 2017, she began offering Lean Services campus-wide.

Ask me about:

  • Lean Communities of Practice
  • HELEX – Higher Ed Lean Exchange
  • The difference between applying Lean in a corporate vs higher education setting
  • The Network for Change and Continuous Innovation (NCCI)

Brendan Snowden, Conference Host 2020

Associate Director, Service Improvement Melbourne University

Former Steering Group Members

Since founding in 2013 Lean HE has benefited from the skills and wisdom of many people, including former global steering group members. 

These include:
  • Christine Stewart - Cardiff University
  • Dave Speake - The University of Sheffield.
  • David Melkevik - Cardiff University
  • Fin Miller - University of St Andrews
  • Jan Brillman - Hanzehogeschool Groningen
  • John Hogg - University of Strathclyde
  • Julie Ryland - Coventry University
  • Lorna Prince - University of Stirling
  • Mark Robinson - University of St Andrews
  • Mick Gash - University of Nottingham
  • Pat Browne - University of Aberdeen
  • Sue Jennings - University of Stirling
  • Tammi Sinha - University of Winchester
  • Vincent Wiegel - HAN School of Applied Sciences
  • Rachel McAssey - The University of Sheffield.