"Throughout my four years as an officer in NUS I was lucky enough to work with Steve. From day one his drive to support officers and facilitate student leadership was clear to me, not as an afterthought, but as a fundamental part of what he believed NUS and SU's should be delivering.
Beyond making sure support is available if and when required, Steve knows how to get the most out of officers. From planning and mapping at the start of the year, through to regular 1-2-1's and project evaluation, the determination to support every officer to achieve their ambitions was second to none.
Steve takes the time to make sure a solid relationship is built, so that if there was ever a problem, crisis or need for advice, I knew I could always pick up the phone. No other staff member was able to support me play to my strengths but also really challenge me, pushing me out of my comfort zone in ways that developed me as an officer and as a person.
It is without a doubt I would not have enjoyed nor had anywhere near as a successful four terms in office without Steve's support, compassion, talent and instincts."
Raechel Mattey, NUS Wales Deputy President & NUS VP Union Development 2011-15
Cardiff University Students’ Union as Director of Communications
"Steve has been an immense support, professionally and personally, and I have no doubt it's his ability to understand and work with officers that has made him such an effective leader.
On a personal level, he's really helped to build my confidence in what had been a really tough year- whether that's through helping us as officers develop personal development plans and providing structure for our year, or through taking the time to help coach me when I've had a crisis of confidence in my leadership, he knows how to work with officers in a way that recognises the unique leadership position we're in, and the special support it requires.
He really does have an admirable knack for working with elected officers- his ability to champion and support you whilst encouraging you to challenge yourself means that you have the objective support necessary to develop as an individual, but more importantly, learn to be simultaneously self-critical whilst having belief in one’s self, which I know will be invaluable for my personal development as I move on.
Steve also has an amazing ability to recognise and nurture talent in the movement, I know countless officers who would say they wouldn't be where they are now without the support and encouragement of Steve- he's able to navigate the politics of a complex organisation to make sure every officer he works with is valued and given the best possible support to be the most effective officer they can be.
Another of Steve's qualities as a leader is his ability to properly listen- whether it's with elected officers or staff, the time he puts into listening to those around him, whether through structured one to ones or always being available for a chat, you can tell he really cares about the people in his team, when we talk, he really listens."
Beth Button, NUS Wales President 2014-16
Head of Communications & Public Affairs at University Alliance
"From Cornwall College Students’ Union to Vice President Further Education, to National President of NUS, Steve gave me consistent strategic and operational advice and support. At Cornwall Steve supporting me in delivering a governance review of my college students' union, and organised officer training for me and my team.
Steve continued to support me in the National Union of Students, giving me personal coaching and support that ultimately gave me the confidence to stand for national president. Steve is a conscientious, strategic leader who understands and respects student leadership. His support to me, as well as the staff and officers I have worked with has been invaluable in making difficult and important decisions."
Toni Pearce, CCSU President, NUS VP Further Education & NUS President 2009-15
Head of Government Relations - Oxfam
“Steve has now been working with us for 3 months. No matter what day it has been through those months he has always found time to offer help and support to the sabbatical officers, even if it involves meeting after work. His depth and breadth of knowledge and experience has been invaluable to The SU and is always ‘Coole’ and collected when aiding conflict. Steve has made our team healthier, happier and more effective as representing students and The SU to both universities and FX Plus. Steve has also formed very effective working relationships with both universities and communicated the needs of the SU very clearly. I have found his advice essential in my development as an officer, he has aided me in my prioritisation of meetings, how to effectively ask questions and I thank him for this. The SU has been a happier and more productive place with Steve here and he shall be missed.”
Joe Rigby, President Exeter, Falmouth & Exeter Students' Union 2019-20
"I first began working with Steve in a position that many student officers find themselves in; having unexpectedly won an election and now facing the reality of running an organisation and being accountable to thousands of my peers. To this day I remember one of my very first encounters with Steve when he was the NUS Development Worker for my region. As a newly elected officer, full of plans and ego, Steve had challenged some changes I wanted to make to the governance of my union. I was disgusted that NUS were trying to tell me how to run my union! However I wasn’t the first new and naive student officer Steve had worked with and he was able to use his experience and expertise to coach me to apply tried and tested principles to my leadership allowing me to recognise for myself why the changes I had wanted to make were a bad idea. This is a highly valuable trait in someone in a leadership position.
In the three years I worked with Steve as a local SU officer, he was able to provide constructive advice for the vast array of challenges that student officers are confronted with at some point in their term of office. As a president in a further education college students’ union, the kinds of issues I needed help with were vast; I had a tiny budget for campaigning and activities; most of my membership were part time and work based students and there were often challenging relationships between my union and my institution. I was able to successfully overcome many of these challenges because of the quality of advice and support and grow to become a better leader in the process. Steve’s approach is not to blindside with clichés or theory, but is practical and grounded in extensive experience.
While supporting me as a students’ union president and later as an NUS Vice President, Steve’s commitment and expertise was consistent. As VP Further Education I was able to see Steve work with staff, other sabbaticals, and students first hand. It was immediately clear to me that Steve’s understanding of the techniques and methods required to get the best out of student officers is a special talent in a movement with student leaders with diverse backgrounds, characteristics and ambitions. As a manager at NUS, Steve was characteristically responsive to the needs of the membership, for example by adapting training programmes to better address the issues a particular cohort of students faced and consistently demonstrated efficient deployment of resources, including properly utilising the skills of the staff team. On a personal level, Steve is a pleasure to work alongside and will be an asset to your team."
Shane Chowen, CCPSU President and NUS VP Further Education 2007-2011
Area Director (East and West Midlands) Association of Colleges (AoC)