Dr Helen Hughes

Dr Helen Hughes



I am an Associate Professor at Leeds University Business School (LUBS), and within this role, I am the Director of the Business School’s Behaviour Lab, and formerly, the Academic Lead for Internships.

I am committed to delivering high quality, research-led student education, and am passionate about helping to nurture intelligent, questioning, and highly employable graduates, whatever interests they may have. Alongside this, I am an active and enthusiastic researcher, committed to evidence-based practice, and research that has meaningful and positive, real-world impact. As a Chartered Occupational Psychologist (my native discipline) and with a Business School background, I have built strong strategic partnerships with a wide range of industry partners (for research, teaching, consultancy, and student projects).

My research is interdisciplinary, focussing in particular, on the social dynamics of workplace relationships (e.g., The Future Workplace), as well as graduate employability and early career transitions to the workplace (Understanding Internships). I apply a whole systems (socio-technical) mindset in my research, and have a keen interest in developing applied research methods (e.g., computer simulation, and social network analysis).

I am passionate about translating research into usable insights, so that it can support business, education, and community development. To this end, I have attracted almost £1.5m in direct research funding, and developed strategic partnerships with organizations ranging from Rolls-Royce and Arup, to KPMG, the NHS, and The Alzheimer’s Society. My research has been published for academic and practitioner communities, with academic and societal impact; and has won awards for its contribution to science (e.g., the Liberty Mutual Award). I have contributed to policy and practice discussions, with organizations including: the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Department for Transport (DfT), Leeds City Council, the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA), and the Institute of Student Employers (ISE). My research is published in international journals and edited books, and has been featured by media outlets including the BBC, Forbes, the Financial Times, and the Telegraph.


  • Behaviour Lab Director

Research interests

I welcome applications from PhD students, particularly relating to topics such as:

  • The ways that relationships and social interactions affect the design and development of work and careers
  • New ways of working, job design, job crafting and work organization
  • Team and group behaviours in relation to complex systems, service design, social networks, job design, and professional sport
  • Systems design, and socio-technical thinking and practice
  • Organizational change and change management
  • Graduate transitions and employability
  • Applied methods e.g. modelling and simulation, social network analysis

Research Funding:

2021:   Davis, M.C. (PI), Hughes, H.P.N. (Co-I), Rees, S.J. (Co-I), Wu, C. (Co-I), & Gritt, E. (Co-I).  Adapting offices to support COVID-19 secure workplaces and emerging work patterns (Adapting Offices). Economic and Social Research Council (ES/W001764/1). 18 month project, £508,080.

2021:   Crowther, G. (PI), Davis, M. (Co-I), Hughes, H. (Co-I), Kelley, R. (Co-I), McKay, A. (Co-I). Applying computer modelling, simulation and socio-technical systems analysis to improve NHS dementia care outcomes. Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, Pump Priming Funds. 6 month project, £3160

2020    Hughes, H.P.N. (Equal PI) & Davis, M.C. (Equal PI). Applying computer modelling, simulation and socio-technical systems analysis to improve NHS dementia care outcomes. Leeds University Business School, Challenge Fund. 6 month project, £24,933

2017:   Hughes, H.P.N. (PI), Davis, M.C. (Co-I), Robinson, M.A. (Co-I). System Understanding & Sub-System Utopia through Design Integration & Optimisation” (SUSSUDIO). Innovate UK, with Rolls-Royce (#110912). 12 month project, £141,049 (Overall project value: £9,763,306).

2011:   Hughes, H.P.N. (Equal PI), Clegg, C.W. (Equal PI). “Overcoming Barriers to Mainstreaming Assisted Living Technologies” (MALT). Technology Strategy Board (TSB) and Economics and Social Research Council (ESRC) (#480926). 36 month project, £757,577 (Overall project value: £1,710,000)



2019: Winner of the Faculty Mentor Award in the Leeds University Business School and Leeds University Union Partnership Awards (“The award is for the person who guidance and direction has helped others develop their skills and prospects for the future or who has enabled them to remain on their course”)

2019: University of Leeds Recognition Award (for excellence in Teaching)

2017: Winner of the Liberty Mutual Award, which recognizes the paper published in the journal Ergonomics, that best contributes to the advancement of the practice of ergonomics. The winning paper is selected by the journal’s Editorial Board.

2008: Runner up for the International Award for Excellence in the area of diversity in organizations, communities and nations. The winning journal article is selected by the journal’s International Advisory Board and Review Board.


  • PhD Management
  • MSc Organizational Psychology (Distinction)
  • BSc Psychology (1st class hons)
  • Chartered Occupational Psychologist (BPS)
  • Registered Psychologist (HCPC)

Professional memberships

  • Associate Fellow, British Psychological Society
  • Chartered Member of the British Psychological Society (BPS) (Chartered Occupational Psychologist
  • Registered Practitioner Psychologist (HCPC)
  • Member of the British Academy of Management
  • Member of the BPS Division of Academics Researchers and Teachers of Psychology (DARTP)
  • Chartered Business and Management Educator
  • Member of the International Network for Social Network Analysis

Student education

I am a Certified Management and Business Educator, and I have a track record in effective leadership in Student Education. I have developed programmes, modules, and research-led teaching materials, spanning all academic levels and class sizes, including Executive Education.  I served as a Programme Director (MSc Organizational Psychology and MSc Business Psychology) for 8 years, leading our programme team through three successful professional accreditations with the British Psychology Society, and have contributed case examples from these programmes to wider Faculty accreditations.

Understanding and nurturing employability is at the heart of all my Student Education activities. Since 2014, I have led and implemented a new strategy for industrial placements, with a dual focus on improving students’ experiences, their opportunities, and successes; whilst simultaneously collecting invaluable data that the Faculty and University can use to enhance the quality of provision and intervention (Understanding Internships; The Future Workplace). My ongoing research in this area seeks to explore graduate transitions to the workplace, and measure the value of work-integrated learning initiatives such as internships graduate employability and early career transitions to the workplace.

I supervise undergraduate and post-graduate dissertations on Management, Organizational Psychology, and Executive Leadership programmes, and offer mentorship through the Michael Beverley Fellowship and Aurora schemes.

I have served as an External Examiner at the University of Nottingham, and currently hold this role at the University of Edinburgh. I have membership on a range of committees, University groups, and editorial boards, and sit on the Research and Policy Steering Group for the Institute of Student Employers.


Student Feedback (Examples):

“Just wanted to say that I do realize the very real opportunities that you are giving us to think about the real world, rather that the 'toy' version so often suggested in the textbooks.” (Module Feedback, 2016)

“Loved Helen’s enthusiastic and effervescent delivery. Her depth of knowledge and the experience she referred to was helpful and inspired interest. You can always tell when someone feels passionate about this subject and this comes across really strongly. I have loved the module and could listen to Helen all day!” (Module Feedback, 2017)

“The content of the module was highly relevant to my daily work, has already benefited me in my managerial thinking and given me more standing in my Organization. The delivery of the module was enthusiastic, fascinating, intellectually exciting. I appreciated the presentation standard of our lecturer, her open-mindedness and sophisticated consideration of complex arguments. It was a stimulating, engaging and challenging delivery of the module” (Module Feedback, 2018).

Research groups and institutes

  • Workplace Behaviour Research Centre
  • Socio-Technical Centre

Current postgraduate researchers