Head of Human Resources

Jodrell bank Observatory, Cheshire, UK
Salary in the Range of £70k to £90k plus Flexible Benefits
09 Mar 2017
09 Apr 2017
HR Jobs Level
Director / Head / VP
Contract Type
Full Time

Salary in the Range of £70k to £90k plus Flexible Benefits

Job Title: Head of Human Resources

Reference: HR/01

Reports To: Head of Administration

Closing Date for applications: Closing date for receipt of completed applications is 7th April 2017.  For details of how to apply please see below. 

Submission of applications: Email to c.greenwood@skatelescope.org

Organisation Background

The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) is a global project to build a multi-purpose radio telescope that will play a major role in answering key questions in modern astrophysics and cosmology.  It will be one of a small number of cornerstone observatories around the world that will provide astrophysicists and cosmologists with a transformational view of the Universe. The SKA will be constructed in two distinct phases. Among major science goals for the first phase, SKA1, will be to study the history and role of neutral Hydrogen in the Universe from the dark ages to the present-day, and to employ pulsars as probes of fundamental physics.


SKA Organisation was incorporated as a UK company in December 2011 to co-ordinate global design activities in the ‘Pre-Construction’ phase of the project.  The Company leads the SKA system design and oversees the detailed design being undertaken by globally distributed design consortia.  To accomplish this goal, SKA Organisation employs highly qualified scientists, specialised engineers, project managers, system engineers and support staff.  Design work packages for the major SKA subsystems have been contracted to a small number of work package consortia who are responsible for the management, execution and delivery of the work packages.

Ten governments are now participating in the project, with others engaged in discussions regarding possible membership.  SKA Organisation is permanently headquartered in a purpose-built building at Jodrell Bank, Cheshire, UK.  Over the next 18 months, this global headquarters will expand with the construction of an extension to the existing building to accommodate the additional staff needed for the Construction and Operations phases of the project.

Negotiations are currently underway between the governments of SKA member countries with the aim of establishing the SKA as an Inter-Governmental Organisation (IGO) governed by a Convention.  It is expected that these negotiations will be concluded by mid-2017 and the IGO will be set up as soon as possible afterwards.  It is envisaged that this post will transfer to the IGO.

The Role

This is a new position and the post holder will be required to lead SKA Organisation’s Human Resources (HR) department.  The HR Department is committed to support SKA Organisation’s strategic objectives by providing a high quality, comprehensive and continuously developing service to staff and management. It seeks to achieve this through taking a proactive role in the development of the Company and its staff, leading the design and implementation of the personnel strategies, working closely with managers and staff to ensure they are aligned to operational requirements, and providing an expert HR administration service.

The Head of Human Resources will report directly to the Head of Administration and oversee the appropriate, pragmatic application of the SKA Organisation’s Staff Rules and Regulations and lead all HR functions at a strategic level, including recruitment, personnel management, compensation and benefits as well as general training and development programmes for all staff.  The Head of Human Resources will be supported by a small team of 2-3 staff at SKA HQ and, following establishment of the IGO, by HR personnel based at SKA site offices in Australia and South Africa.

This post has been established at a critical time in the organisational development of SKA Organisation, as it transitions from an UK Company to an IGO.  Over the next few years the headcount of the organisation will increase from 60 to around 180, spread across three continents, with much of this growth in numbers over the next 18-24 months.  The Head of Human Resources will play a pivotal role in the transition process, ensuring that operational effectiveness is maintained through the development of existing talent and recruitment of the best new talent from around the world.

Key Duties, Accountabilities and Responsibilities

Under the direction of the Head of Administration, the post holder will:

  • Lead, motivate and further develop the HR department to deliver a high level service;
  • Work closely with the Senior Leadership Team to develop and drive a strategic HR plan across SKA Organisation;
  • Establish innovative people strategies to attract, develop and retain a skilled, talented, multi-national and diverse workforce.
  • Provide high-level advice and guidance to the Head of Administration and Senior Leadership Team and assist in all matters relating to Human Resources management;
  • Represent the HR Department at internal and external meetings, Board of Directors meetings Board sub-committee meetings (e.g. finance committee) and working groups as required; advise and prepare HR reports in connection with these meetings;
  • Overall responsibility for the implementation of relevant decisions and/or recommendations of the Board of Directors or any of its sub-committees;
  • Overall responsibility for business continuity (human resource) and succession planning;
  • Develop and evaluate departmental goals, objectives and systems and oversee their successful implementation by the HR department;
  • Recommend new policies, procedures and processes to achieve continuous improvement in the efficiency of SKA Organisation;
  • Develop and maintain close cooperation in HR matters with other organisations, including IGOs and the International Labour Organisation;
  • Support the Head of Administration in operational matters as required;
  • Travel both inside and outside of the UK as necessarily required by the position. It is anticipated that the need for travel will be infrequent but specific requirements will be discussed with applicants.



Mandatory Qualifications, Experience and Knowledge:

  • University degree or equivalent in Human Resources Management, business administration or a related area;
  • Chartered Member or Chartered Fellow of Chartered Institute of Personnel Development, or equivalent professional body;
  • Demonstrable success as an HR generalist, with wide ranging experience in the human resources management, including Organisational Development, talent management, succession planning, people development, recruitment and retention, and implementing staff rules and regulations;
  • Ability to think strategically and provide clear advice on a broad range of HR matters to senior managers and the Board of Directors;
  • Excellent English oral and written communication skills, with experience of presenting to Board level, and an ability to explain complex HR and organisational issues in a clear and logical way;
  • Working knowledge of international labour standards;
  • An inspirational leader with demonstrable experience of managing teams that achieve individual, team and organisational goals;
  • International experience at a strategic level including proven record of creating an enabling environment in an international setting and to effectively lead, mentor, motivate and develop people with a different national and cultural background;
  • Enthusiastic advocate of equality and diversity as part of the culture of the organisation;
  • Proven record of successful change management in a dynamic environment, with the ability to find innovative solutions to problems and to understand the perspective of key decision makers and partners; and
  • Ability to work under pressure and to tight deadlines, often in a high pressure environment while balancing conflicting demands and priorities.

Desirable Qualifications, Experience and Knowledge:

  • Experience of negotiating collective contracts with staff representatives; and
  • Experience working with distributed staff located in remote locations.

For more information on the SKA project visit http://www.skatelescope.org. SKA Organisation offers a competitive salary, a generous company pension scheme and a flexible benefits package. The successful applicant’s workplace will be SKA Organisation’s headquarters at Jodrell Bank, UK

How to apply

Please send a CV and covering letter to c.greenwood@skatelescope.org, quoting reference HR/01.  To be considered, applications must include:

  1. Details of how you meet the essential and desirable criteria, Details of your current remuneration, and The names of three professional referees.

Closing date for receipt of applications is 7th April 2017.

Equal Opportunities Statement

SKA Organisation is committed to being an equal opportunities employer. Our aim to is recruit and retain the most talented individuals, regardless of gender, race, disability, age, sexual orientation, religion or nationality.

At all stages of the recruitment process and beyond, we strive to treat applicants and employees with a high standard of care, honesty and politeness.

Women have traditionally been under-represented in the fields of science and engineering; SKA Organisation welcomes and encourages female applicants.

Where applicants with a disability need facilities or adjustments to enable them to participate in the recruitment process, these will be provided. If you need equipment or adjustments to enable you to complete your application and/or attend an interview then please let us know.