Student Loans Company - Commercial Business Partner

Current Positions

Letter to Applicants

Dear Applicant,

Thank you for your interest in Student Loans Company (SLC), I am delighted that you are interested in applying to work with our Commercial Services Function.

Our SLC Commercial team have been on a journey over the last period, we have been improving our ways of working, focusing on how we continue to evolve and improve the service we deliver to our customers. This is a fantastic time to join the team, as a member of the senior management team you will have the opportunity to lead the implementation of our Commercial Operating Model, enabling a change in how we deliver our Commercial Service within SLC.

We are about to launch our Career Pathway for Commercial, which will provide our Commercial team with a brilliant opportunity and platform to grow and develop their skills, with your management support as we drive for a continuous learning approach across the commercial function to enable a focus on growing our own Commercial talent, which is huge focus for us over the next 24 months.

The Commercial Business Partner is a pivotal role for the SLC Commercial Function as the role will be crucial in driving the successful development of key stakeholder relationships, enabling early commercial engagement, providing strategic commercial advice, innovative ideas enabling improved Commercial delivery and commercial contract management across our Supply Chain. Digital and Technology count for approx. 70% of our annual spend, therefore the Commercial Business Partner should have extensive market knowledge that enables them to provide the level of specialist knowledge and support required to support our customers.

I am personally hugely excited and committed to transforming the Commercial Service at SLC. I am looking to develop a senior management team that can bring a mix and blend of Commercial skills, but most of all that can bring energy, drive, passion and enthusiasm for the delivery of a great commercial service for SLC. I am looking forward to meeting you during the interview process and exploring what fantastic skills and experiences you can bring to the role.

Regards, Collette Sherry, Commercial Director
Student Loans Company

The Company - Student Loans History

It plays a central role in supporting the Higher Education (HE) and Further Education (FE) sectors by making timely and accurate payments of maintenance grants and loans to learners and their tuition fee loans and grants to HE and FE providers.

SLC is at a critical point in its 32-year history. Education is changing, our customers are changing, and the demands and expectations of our stakeholders are changing. Our strategy to meet these changes is clear: SLC will develop an increasingly online service to improve our customers’ experience and enable us to respond more effectively to the requirements of ministers and policymakers at the Department for Education and the devolved administrations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The Government regulations associated with student finance are detailed and complex. With annual introductions of new Government policy, SLC is required to implement a major policy change programme each year. SLC change costs have risen faster than BAU costs in recent years reflecting increased demand on the organisation. In 2019-20, SLC processed around two million applications and made payments of  20 billion. It has over 3,000 employees based across four sites in Glasgow, nearby Hillington, Darlington and Llandudno Junction.

Company Mission
SLC’s mission is to enable people to invest in their futures through further and higher education by providing trusted, transparent, flexible and accessible student finance services.

Company Vision
“To ensure that SLC is widely recognised as enabling student opportunity and delivering an outstanding customer experience in the efficient delivery of the four UK Governments’ further and higher education finance policies”.

Introduction to the Role

Introduction to the Role

Overview of department: Commercial Services sits within the Chief Financial Officer Directorate within SLC and is led by the Commercial Director.

Their commercial team are an enabling function and provides commercial services across the organisation.

SLC Commercial provides commercial contracts and services to our customers with an annual expenditure of 150 million approx. We advise and support our customers by assessing developments in the supply market, creating routes to market for a diverse range of products and services, and managing all aspects of customer and supplier relationships, while spending taxpayers’ money in an effective, compliant manner. We are embarking on a transformation journey to create a holistic commercial function within SLC, with a future operating model, which has Commercial Business partnering at its core, being implemented over a two-year period. This is an exciting time to join the SLC Commercial Function as a senior manager as you will have the opportunity to enable the future operating model, supporting the further design and implementation of the organisation structure.

Our commercial service spans various categories of spend, with 70% of falling under Information Technology & Digital, including Software, Hardware, Networks, IT Services, and Telecoms.

The balance of the expenditure is in Operations & Customer Services and Corporate Services including Financial Services, People, Professional Services and Estates Services.

The purpose of the Commercial function within SLC is to: “Be recognised as a trusted Business Partner that delivers great commercial outcomes and value for money whilst ensuring adherence with Public Sector Procurement Regulations.”

Title: Commercial Business Partner

Reports to: Commercial Director

Location: Glasgow/Hybrid

Position Overview

As a Commercial Business Partner, you will be responsible for building strong partnerships with your nominated SLC Directorates and will drive towards enabling customer satisfaction. You will provide advice and guidance and deliver end-to-end commercial solutions. The role requires you to be confident in using analysis, demand intelligence and market engagement to advise on route-to-buy options, procurement processes, supplier relationship management and commercial contract management. You will support the development of customer strategies helping to shape their commercial requirements whlist delivering high quality outputs, risk control and value for money for all contracts under your management.

The post holder will be expected to ensure all commercial activity within their portfolio fully aligns with the Directorate/ SLC strategies; that all activity is fully compliant with internal and external governance requirements; that commercial risks are fully understood and mitigated; and that value for money is maximised throughout the contract lifecycle for the UK Taxpayer.

In the role you will engage with and influence senior stakeholders to achieve strong commercial planning, assurance and collaborative working, and will develop and implement effective commercial strategies. You will support the Commercial Director and any delegated SROs within each Directorate with the review, assurance and completion of any business cases to support project and commercial governance for their assigned portfolio.

Critical to this role is the ability to listen, interpret, influence, negotiate, inspire and challenge.

Role Profile

Role Profile

Lead and manage the implementation of Commercial Business Partnering:

  • Build partnerships with nominated SLC Directorates, acting as their Point of Contact for all commercial activities.
  • Work with the Directorates to understand, develop and shape their strategies and commercial requirements.
  • Build and maintain the overall commercial pipeline - for nominated Directorates, including new commercial activity and changes or variations to existing contracts.
  • Champion the implementation of strategic contracts and take responsibility for ensuring that all activities undertaken across procurement and contract management are compliant with UK Public Sector Contract Regulations, as well as best practice principles.
  • Build collaborative working relationships with internal customers, support staff and external parties, Communicate the benefits delivered by the Commercial Function while setting out the need to comply with all relevant policies and regulations.
  • Ensure the development of effective working relationships with the Finance Team to ensure key operational, commercial, and financial targets are delivered.

Lead and manage and sourcing/procurement and contract management activity for nominated Directorates:

  • Deliver end-to-end commercial services, based on a deep understanding of the market and customer needs, ensuring that sound sourcing strategies, project planning and delivery, contract negotiation and award, and contract management are in place.
  • Lead cross-functional procurement teams, throughout the contracting and contract management cycle, to deliver successful third-party solutions.
  • Provide leadership and direction to your commercial team, ensuring they have a comprehensive understanding of current and future Directorate third-party commercial requirements, to develop and implement forward looking commercial action plans and strategies for each category/commodity area in agreement with the relevant stakeholders.
  • Ensure all third-party requirements are procured using the most appropriate route to market, to deliver best value to the taxpayer, whilst complying with all applicable public procurement regulations and policies.
  • Lead and support major tender negotiations driving optimum value for money, quality, innovation, sustainability and community benefits throughout the contract life cycle.
  • Lead on the internal approval and co-ordination of Cabinet Office Spend approval requests for your assigned portfolio.
  • Lead on the management of commercial risks within your assigned portfolio, notably relating to suppliers and supply chains, acting as an escalation point to support your team to mitigate risks to SLC.
  • Work with other Commercial Business Partners on issues relating to common suppliers and opportunity analysis.

Drive a culture of compliance and continuous improvement:

  • Ensure Commercial strategies and any procurement activities within your portfolio comply with external and internal legislative and governance requirements including the Commercial Manual and Cabinet Office Spend Controls.
  • Work with the Compliance team to monitor and manage your team’s commercial compliance in line with the SLC Commercial Compliance Framework.
  • Keep up to date with industry and market trends, developments, cost drivers etc to inform and deliver continuous improvement throughout the Commercial Life Cycle.
  • Contribute to the development of effective tools, techniques and organisational continuous improvement initiatives.
  • Support Commercial colleagues in assessing, baselining and continuously improving their commercial capability, through the application of Government Commercial Operating Standards across all commercial activity.
  • Supporting and influencing key operational and strategic decisions.

Ensure a strong approach is undertaken to performance tracking and reporting:

  • Ensure the timely and accurate maintenance of Commercial Activity Trackers, Savings Log, Risk Register, Forward Procurement Plan and other relevant Commercial datasets for your assigned portfolio.
  • Review critical MI with your team and key stakeholders e.g. third-party expenditure, contract value tracking, Annual/QBR supplier performance, risk mitigation, savings, and commercial pipeline plan.
  • Where appropriate, lead Directorate or Portfolio and Contract reviews and reporting in order to track progress of achievements against planned strategy or deliverables for your portfolio, where assigned.

Manage & Develop Staff

  • Lead, manage and inspire all staff within your assigned area of responsibility.
  • Lead the development of a Competency Development Plan and implement for all staff within your area of responsibility.
  • Drive an ethos of staff empowerment and continuous improvement to ways of working and ensuring upskilling across the teams.

Support the Commercial Director and Commercial Services team:

  • Provide support and leadership in the implementation of the Commercial Operating Model, supporting with the organisational design and implementation activities.
  • Provide support to your team during peak-periods with strategic or tactical commercial activity.
  • Support with other Commercial duties as agreed from time to time.
  • Carry out other reasonable management instructions or requests to suit the business needs, when required.
  • Deputise for the Commercial Director, as required from time to time.

Preferred Candidate Background

Knowledge Skills and Experience:

• Collaborative in approach, with a proven track record of influencing and engaging senior subject matter experts/ stakeholders and third parties
• Strong commercial management experience
• Ability to define opportunity pipelines as well as develop and execute commercial strategies
• High level of people skills
• Resilient with strong sense of commercial acumen
• Extensive track record of successfully developing and implementing commercial strategies in a complex and changing environment
• Extensive track record of implementing and managing significant simultaneous procurement and contract management activity within a large, complex organisation preferably within a Public Sector environment
• Good experience of strategic procurement and commercial contract management
• Extensive stakeholder management and influencing experience at senior levels
• Demonstrable experience of innovative approaches to procurement
• Excellent leadership and delegation skills and ability to present with clarity and passion
• Results driven and ability to ensure your team effectively deliver
• Strong written and verbal communication skills.
• High level of IT literacy, including MS Office, Excel
• Well-developed analytical, organisational and problem-solving skills
• Risk identification and management relative to the Sourcing to Contract lifecycles
• Ability to drive team collaboration and work well within a matrix-style team environment
• Significant staff management experience in a challenging environment


• MCIPS accreditation or equivalent qualification or related experience
• High level of accuracy and attention to detail
• Strong senior team player
• Energy, drive, tenacity, professionalism, and commitment
• Flexible approach to working hours in line with the needs of the business


Basic Salary: 53K - 63K


• Pension ( 26.6% up to 30.3%)
• Holidays – 36 including bank holidays
• Flexible Working, Buy & Sell Annual Leave, Discounted Bus Travel,
• Car Lease Scheme, Dental Insurance,
• Technology Scheme,
• Civil Service Sports & Leisure Club ,
• Cycle Scheme, Childcare Vouchers

The Recruitment Process

Interested candidates should contact Jacqui Paterson of JP Executive Search, our retained advisors, in the first instance: First stages will be managed by JP Executive Search before moving to interviews with relevant members of the Student Loans Company Team.

All third party applications will be managed by JP Executive Search.

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