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Cindy Vallance

Cindy Vallance (she/her) is Assistant Director, Knowledge, Innovation and Delivery at Advance HE. Cindy has over twenty years’ experience in higher education. She is an accredited executive coach and has held senior leadership roles in universities in the UK and in Canada. Specialist areas of experience also include organisational development consultancy, leadership facilitation and equality, diversity and inclusion.
Advance HE
Job Title
Assistant Director, Knowledge, Innovation and Delivery

Her specialist areas are organisational development consultancy, leadership facilitation and coaching, equality, diversity and inclusion, and research and enterprise management. Cindy has over twenty years’ experience in higher education and has held senior leadership roles in universities in the UK and in Canada. Prior to working in HE, Cindy spent fifteen years in the not-for-profit and commercial sectors including roles leading change as Chief Executive for an arts organisation and overseeing all aspects of people and talent development across the staff lifecycle for a global professional services consultancy.

She is an executive coach accredited at senior practitioner level by the Tavistock Institute which combines psychology and systems thinking to coaching, was trained in action learning set facilitation by Roffey Park and is a member of the EMCC. Cindy hold first class degrees in the arts and in business and is a board member for a charity that co-creates social justice creative communications campaigns with young people. Originally from Canada, Cindy has been in the UK for fourteen years and is proud of her indigenous Métis identity, culture and ancestry.

The insights and experience she has gained working across a diverse array of contexts and countries directly inform her professional practice. She tweets regularly @cdvallance.


Find out more about Advance HE One-to-One Executive Coaching services.

Cindy has over twenty years’ experience in higher education. She is an accredited executive coach and has held senior leadership roles in universities in the UK and in Canada. Specialist areas of experience also include organisational development consultancy, leadership facilitation and equality, diversity and inclusion.

Coaching experience at a senior level  

I have coached senior clients from higher education, international charities, the civil service, the health service, consultancy and banking.

Coaching experience in Higher Education

I have coached staff across a wide spectrum of roles: those who hold academic, professional services and research and education positions including executives, deans, directors, heads of department, principal investigators and senior research and teaching professionals. I have also worked as a senior leader, manager, coach and mentor within universities in the UK and in Canada and as a leadership facilitator and consultant to a wide array of higher education institutions in my current role at Advance HE.

Coaching style, approach and influences

I do not coach individuals in isolation. My belief is that organisations, now more than ever, need talent and leadership that brings something different to the table, organisations that achieve financial sustainability through robust systems and processes and that also have a sense of curiosity and confident humility at their heart. I use an integrated coaching approach that considers in parallel the individual, their role, their team, their organisation and the broader system they work within. I adjust the specific style and methods I use as my clients navigate professional and organisational challenges and I have at hand a substantial toolkit of frameworks and models to draw on in direct response to the needs of my clients. I also draw on my formal education across fine arts, business and psychodynamic coaching to inform my practice. I regularly engage in individual and group coaching supervision as part of my reflective practice which informs my continuous learning and growth and enables me to build reciprocal relationships within the coaching community. In undertaking my coaching accreditation, my external examiner observed “she is a perceptive coach who observes herself well and has clear talent for coaching, including the use of hypothesis and the use of self in coaching.”

Examples of issues explored in coaching sessions

  • Navigating career and professional transitions and accelerating career progression
  • Considering leadership capabilities and strengths
  • Building influencing and negotiating skills
  • Working within complex organisational systems
  • Developing personal insights and increasing confidence
  • Navigating relational dynamics and developing powerful networks
  • Working through organisational change

Qualifications and accreditations

  • Senior practitioner level executive coaching accreditation, Tavistock Consulting
  • European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC) member at senior practitioner level
  • Real World Group 360 Higher Education Transformational Leadership Questionnaire accredited coach
  • Peer action learning set facilitation, Roffey Park
  • MBA, First Class, University of Victoria, Canada
  • Bachelor of Fine Arts, First Class, Emily Carr University of Arts and Design, Canada

Case studies

Career progression

  • Cindy provided coaching to a senior-level academic leader to successfully progress their career and move from a Director to a Dean level role with a broader and more strategic organisational remit 

Navigating organisational change

  • Cindy coached a senior academic and research centre director to successfully navigate organisational change concluding with a move to a more senior role at an institution with a closer values fit

Reconceiving professional identity

  • Cindy coached a staff member to successfully reconceive and build their professional identity as they moved from a university professional services role to an academic role  

Quotes from previous coachees

“Cindy has a tremendous amount of knowledge and experience. She was empathetic; she was humorous, and she was kind. Her non-judgemental questions and comments helped me to clarify that perhaps what I thought I wanted wasn’t what I wanted; conversely, it also clarified what I wanted when I could speak ‘joyfully’ about those things. I have developed greater self-belief and that has had an impact on me being able to be reassured in the decisions that I take and the confidence that I have the right experience to make these decisions.” Senior academic leader

“I found Cindy to be an insightful, empathetic and motivating coach. Her approach to considering individuals within organisations and systems was a useful framework for coaching and has helped me to build my skills as a manager: to better understand myself, including my strengths and weaknesses, and to become more proactive in shaping the organisation in my role on the senior leadership team.” Senior global charity leader

“The space was psychologically safe and I trusted Cindy. She had reflected on each previous session and had clearly spent time preparing for each session. Cindy did not let me sweep over things, she listened well with curiosity and no sense of judgement and I had a real feeling that this was my space and her role was to help me to think, not tell me what I should be doing. I am better prepared for the next role and will tackle it more strategically. I am asked often for leadership support, both from colleagues struggling with their senior leaders and colleagues struggling to manage their teams – so this new insight will be valuable as I support others.Senior health services leader

“Cindy was a very effective coach. Her coaching has enabled me to have increased confidence and to direct this energy and self-belief into my work developing projects and relationships with senior members of my organisation.” Middle manager / professional