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Chief Operating Officer, Medical Research Council (MRC)

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)
Closing date
7 Jul 2024

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Biomedical Science
Contract Type
Chief Operating Officer, Medical Research Council (MRC) Salary: GBP90,000 – GBP95,000, depending on skills and experience
Hours: Full time
Contract Type: Open Ended
Base Location: Polaris House, Swindon, Wiltshire or Caxton House, London – hybrid working available with regular with travel to both locations

Closing Date: Sunday 16 June 2024 (23:59), Interviews will be held in Caxton House on Monday 1 July 2024

Purpose of the Role

This role is central to MRC's effective delivery as part of UKRI and the wider bio–medical science sector. The role holder will have responsibility for a number of organisational functions including financial oversight and management, procurement and contracting, MRC governance, our funding operations; capital and estates; and MRC's pension scheme. In addition, the role will focus on business partner arrangements with UKRI corporate functions including finance; governance; assurance; risk; data and Information; and procurement.

You will support MRC's Executive Chair in the transformation of MRC in alignment to UKRI's strategy. You will lead and support strategic planning and decision making, facilitating key strategic and operational decisions in the support and delivery of MRC's strategic vision, such as financial planning, evaluation and improvement of corporate performance, pension planning, and operational partnership with MRC Institutes and Units.

You will also be jointly responsible for the MRC's contribution to the UKRI strategic aim of 'World–class places'.

You will work closely with the Executive Chair (EC), Deputy EC, Chief of Staff, Directors, and Associate Directors to ensure effective running of the organisation.

Key Responsibilities
  • Work closely with finance business partners to take the strategic lead in devising budgetary control and financial planning to support the needs of the business, medium–term planning and Operating Expense (OPEX).
  • Ensure MRC receives quality and timely support, information and advice from UKRI Corporate Services.
  • Ensure robust budget, risk, data and performance management, utilising management information to support decision making.
  • Ensure a robust internal control and integrity regime within the business.
  • Manage key legal and professional advice through appropriate routes (within UKRI).
  • Ensure effective corporate governance and meeting of our statutory obligations; and continuously improve MRC's overall performance.
  • Building and developing operational and professional management capacity and capability within MRC Operations and align resources to ensure effectiveness, efficiency and resilience.
  • Participating in the governance of major projects and cross council Initiatives, pre and post inception. Acting as Senior Responsible Officer (SRO) on material delivery projects for MRC; this will include multi–million pound projects.
  • Direct responsibility for the MRC Pensions Scheme, either as a Trustee, member or observer on its committees.
  • Overall responsibility at a contractual and transactional level for MRC's intellectual property.
  • Serve as the MRC's representative in fulfilling UKRI's strategic objective of a 'world class place' and contribute to UKRI's and cross–council engagement initiatives, ensuring alignment with MRC's mission and strategic goals.
  • Provide strong, creative, and visible leadership of a high performing, efficient cross functional team of functional leaders.
  • Develop and lead optimal program structures using sub–teams where appropriate to drive timely and effective decision making and delivery of agreed program objectives.
  • Develop cross functional talent within your team capable of taking on MRC and Pan–UKRI roles.
You will be expected to
  • Work closely with the research community to build commitment to the MRC strategy and collaborate on key areas.
  • Embody the ethos, vision and mission of MRC, taking individual and collective professional responsibility for championing the MRC agenda and proactively implementing initiatives which secure the organisation's mission.
  • Work at all times with integrity and to the highest professional standards.
  • Build co–operative team–based relationships with relevant colleagues across and outside the Research Councils as required.
  • Champion MRC diversity policies and behave in a professional manner.
  • Commit continually to developing personal understanding of serious and complex fraud and system security in the context of research funding and shared services.
  • Ensure appropriate systems and processes are in place to support the enabling activities of MRC with a strong alignment of activities to UKRI. This requires a combination of line responsibility (setting clear expectations for several MRC corporate functions) and, influencing individuals and teams at different levels of the Council and across UKRI. Building strong collegiate relationships with the MRC Executive Team, and through the business partner arrangements are critical aspects of the role, using influence rather than line authority.
  • Act as a pivot, ensuring appropriate MRC input is recognised, in particular the relationships regarding MRC Units and Institutes and other legacy MRC impacts (HR policies, redundancy, pension etc).
  • Line manage.
This is an outline description of the key responsibilities and accountabilities involved in the job. It is not exhaustive and may be revised from time to time.

About you

You will be assessed against the following essential criteria throughout the recruitment process:
  • A professional qualification in financial management and professional membership of a relevant business institution with experience of managing budgets in excess of GBP250million per year.
  • First class track record of leadership of a corporate services function at senior management level, in large, complex multi–stakeholder organisations in either the public or private sector.
  • Experience of governance, risk management principles, intellectual property and management of legal advice.
  • Proven strategic, financial planning and analytical skills with the ability to analyse complex and potentially conflicting information as well as a record of translating organisational vision and strategy into operational requirements, to deliver desired outcomes and set priorities.
  • Experience of successfully motivating and developing high performing collaborative teams to deliver high–quality and resilient business–as–usual operations and to enhance service delivery.
  • Understanding of the wider political environment in which MRC operates both within and outside UKRI including an ability to work effectively within the governance framework of the MRC.
  • Considerable experience of stakeholder management including the ability to work with partners to build effective relationships for mutual benefit, reconcile potentially conflicting interests and influence others not in their management line to achieve desired outcomes with the ability to build consensus and trust
  • Broad understanding of the research funding system in the UK, to include knowledge of the activities and priorities of the other UK Research Councils and Innovate UK, relevant Government departments and organisations including the Office for Life Sciences, universities and the life–sciences industry.
About the Medical Research Council (MRC)

Within UKRI, the MRC seeks to improve human health through world–class research. With an annual budget of over GBP800 m, MRC provides support both to individuals, through fellowships and grants, and to institutions, such as the MRC Laboratory for Molecular Biology and the Francis Crick Institute. The outcomes of our research span discovery science, improvements in public health and the development of new treatments for common diseases.

UKRI is an organisation that brings together the seven disciplinary research councils, Research England and Innovate UK. Together, we build an independent organisation with a strong voice and vision ensuring the UK maintains its world–leading position in research and innovation.

Supporting some of the world's most exciting and challenging research projects, we develop and operate some of the most remarkable scientific facilities in the world. We are pushing the frontiers of human knowledge through fundamental research and delivering benefits for UK society and the economy through world–class research, skills and business–led innovation.

Choosing to come to work at UKRI means that you will have access to a whole host of benefits from a defined benefit pension scheme, excellent holiday entitlement, access to employee shopping/travel discounts and salary sacrifice cycle to work scheme. For more details, visit benefits of working for UKRI .

The role holder will be required to have the appropriate level of security screening/vetting required for the role. UKRI reserves the right to run or re–run security clearance as required during the course of employment.

How we support EDI in the workforce

At UKRI, we believe that everyone has a right to be treated with dignity and respect, and to be provided with equal opportunities to thrive and succeed in an environment that enables them to do so. We also value diversity of thought and experience within inclusive groups, organisations and the wider community. For further information, please visit 'How we support EDI in the workforce' .

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