Director of Operations – Cambridge

Job reference:
BAS 28/19
Contract type:
Full TIme
Open-Ended Appointment
Circa £80,000 to £85,000 per annum.
We offer generous benefits
BAS Executive team
Closing date:
3 March, 2019 11:59 pm


British Antarctic Survey (BAS) is seeking a Director of Operations with a proven track record in providing strategic vision and leadership in delivering complex operational activities. The individual appointed will have strategic responsibility for planning and managing operational services and facilities across land, sea and air covering both Polar Regions, which support and underpin the BAS Vision and Mission.

BAS delivers and enables world-leading interdisciplinary research in the Polar Regions. Its skilled science and support staff based in Cambridge, Antarctica and the Arctic work together to deliver research that uses the Polar Regions to advance our understanding of Earth and our impact on it. Through our extensive operational capability and know-how we facilitate access for the British and international science community to the UK polar research operation. Numerous national and international collaborations, combined with an excellent infrastructure, help sustain a world-leading position for the UK in Antarctic affairs. The UK is one of over thirty countries operating scientific research facilities in Antarctica.

BAS Vision and Mission, together with its internationally recognised scientific research, supports NERC’s strategic goals.


The Director of Operations is one of four directors who report to the Director of British Antarctic Survey, Professor Dame Jane Francis. This senior leadership role contributes significantly to the realisation of BAS ambitions, vision and mission. The Director of Operations will have primary responsibility (acting on behalf of Director of BAS) for developing, managing and ensuring effective deployment of a £34M pa budget within Operations, covering transport (currently two ships and five aircraft), logistical support and infrastructure (five Antarctic and one Arctic research stations), with operational responsibility for health & safety in all matters (Polar and UK). This is a significant role in scale and complexity and provides unique challenges in terms of the operating environment, the distances involved, the infrastructure that is used and the isolated facilities that are supported.

This is a role that will require strategic vision and relevant experience at (or near) the national scale in supporting a research environment (or in another relevant area) in order to ensure that the person appointed has the necessary credibility to lead and deliver our Polar ambitions from the outset. The Director of Operations will represent BAS (as and when required by the Director of BAS), both internally within NERC/UKRI and externally with UK Government, partners and other Polar research organisations etc. They will also provide the day-to-day point of contact between BAS and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in respect of operational matters.

A major Government investment to modernise UK Antarctic infrastructure, involves the commission of a new polar research ship and new or upgraded Antarctic facilities, including research stations and aircraft. This modernisation programme will transform how British Antarctic Survey enables and supports frontier science. As part of this transformation, BAS will implement a number of change-management initiatives. The Director of Operations will have an important role to play in ensuring that business transformation is smooth and efficient and will either lead or be a member of a number of major project boards.

This post is based at the BAS headquarters in Cambridge but will require periodic travel to the Antarctic and occasionally elsewhere.


Qualified to degree level in a Business discipline, or demonstrate significant equivalent experience of Operations in a relevant field. Qualification in project management is desirable, as is professional membership of a relevant business institution.


Primary functional responsibility:
To provide strategic leadership and operational management of the BAS Operations capability during a period of significant investment and change. You will be highly innovative in terms of improving performance across the portfolio of activities, identifying change opportunities and new ways of working to make best use of resources. You will represent BAS at appropriate international and international forums, particularly those in a non-science area, and will provide the day-to-day point of contact with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in respect of operational matters.

You will be a key member of the BAS Executive Team (Director of BAS, Director of Science, Director of Innovations & Impact, Director of Operations and Director of Corporate Services) and will be expected to work collectively with the Director of BAS and colleagues in supporting the delivery of the BAS mission.

• Strategic leadership of BAS operational activities, ensuring the provision of high quality support for UK polar science.

• Leadership and management of those activities specifically identified with NERC’s commitment to maintain an agreed level of Antarctic presence.

• Representing BAS in appropriate international and national forums. You will play an important role in representing BAS at those forums which are not primarily scientific in nature and/or which do not require the presence of the Director of BAS.

• Responsible for operational aspects of Health & Safety within BAS.

• Ensuring that BAS operations activity is clearly aligned to BAS and NERC’s objectives.

• Providing the wider UK science community with an appropriate level of support to enable them to carry out research in those areas where BAS operates.

• Ensuring that Operations staff are effectively managed and deliver maximum effectiveness and efficiency.

• Working with the Director of Corporate Services in the development of a clear financial strategy for your area of responsibility, including an emphasis on achieving the best outcomes from available funding, for seeking enhanced collaboration, and for sound budgetary management.

• To provide strategic leadership to multiple expert teams, combining best practice with an understanding of the value of employee engagement.

• Ensuring that BAS operations fulfils its crucial roles and responsibilities as part of the Antarctic Modernisation Programme.

Whilst a key element of this role is leadership of Operations to ensure an Antarctic presence, integrating these with BAS and other BAS activities is a crucial part of this role and will involve close working with the Director of BAS and the other Directors.

You will work with the Executive Team to ensure that:
• Activities which cut across their areas of responsibility (e.g. some developmental engineering activities) are appropriately managed to deliver the maximum benefits for UK polar science.

• To ensure that enhanced collaboration leads to more efficient working and the best return to the taxpayer for its investment in BAS.

• A proactive, healthy and productive relationship is fostered with NERC and UKRI in order to ensure that strategic objectives are met, funding opportunities are maximised and activities managed within the financial and other resources available.

• The relationships with and requirements of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and the Government of South Georgia and the South Sandwich islands (GSGSSI) are understood, agreed and delivered.

You will manage a diverse and multi-skilled team that delivers Operations support across sea, land and air, with an annual budget of circa £34M. To carry out our work, BAS operates three research stations in the Antarctic, two on sub-Antarctic South Georgia and one in the Arctic. Research platforms include also two modern ice-strengthened Royal Research Ships (to be replaced with the newly built Sir David Attenborough when completed, which will require new ways of working) and a fleet of specially adapted aircraft and various off-the-shelf and specialised vehicles.

Reporting relationship:
The Director of Operations will report to the Director of BAS.

On-line application forms and further information are available on our website at

These are also available from the Human Resources Section, British Antarctic Survey, High Cross, Madingley Road, Cambridge, CB3 0ET. Tel: (01223) 221508.

Please quote reference: BAS 28/19

Closing date for receipt of application forms is: 3rd March 2019
Interview date: First stage interviews will take place on 20th March 2019. Second Stage Interviews will take place on 4th April 2019.
Proposed start date: As soon as possible.

BAS is an Equal Opportunity employer. As part of our commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion and promoting equality in careers in science, we hold an Athena SWAN Bronze Award and have an active Equality, Diversity and Inclusion programme of activity. We welcome applications from all sections of the community. People from ethnic minorities and disabled people are currently under-represented and their applications are particularly welcome. We operate a guaranteed interview scheme for disabled candidates who meet the minimum criteria for the job. We are open to a range of flexible working options including part-time or full-time employment as well as flexible hours due to caring or other commitments.

Skills are listed as either Essential or Desirable. Desirable skills importance rating in parenthesis (1 is high, 5 is low)

Interpersonal Skills

  • Can maintain a strong and productive relationship with colleagues both inside and outside BAS. - Essential
  • Ability to motivate self and the wider team and to prioritise and act decisively. - Essential
  • Proactive not reactive. - Essential
  • Able to engage with a wide range of audiences. - Essential
  • Strong analytical, information and problem-solving skills. - Essential
  • Communicates orally in a clear, fluent, concise and appropriate way, which holds people’s attention both in groups and in one-to-one situations. - Essential
  • Makes firm and well-considered decisions about ideas and courses of action within delegated limits. - Essential
  • Displays assertiveness and independence of thought and action without overstepping agreed boundaries. - Essential
  • Excellent facilitation and negotiation skills and experience of consensus building. - Essential
  • High standards of integrity, honesty and professionalism. - Essential
  • Able to produce written reports and documents that are strategic, compelling, well-thought through and convincing. - Essential
  • Demonstrates integrity and good judgement in a professional environment. - Essential


  • Be able to demonstrate leadership ability and presence across a multi-skilled organisation. - Essential
  • Work highly effectively as part of a team. - Essential
  • Capable of showing leadership across all areas of BAS activity, even those not within direct control. - Essential
  • Total commitment to good health and safety practices. - Essential
  • Able to resolve conflict. - Essential
  • Able to deputise for the Director of BAS as required. - Essential


  • Open-minded, receptive to new ideas. - Essential
  • Someone who involves and encourages others. - Essential
  • A champion for effective change management. - Essential
  • Will develop the next generation of staff, recognizing the need for continuity of experience in critical areas of Operations. - Essential
  • Promotes the need to get best value from the available budget. - Essential
  • Able to lead corporate governance, propriety and provide quality assurance for prudent budgetary management. - Essential


  • Will develop strong and effective relationships with NERC, UKRI and the FCO. - Essential
  • You will be expected to build positive and effective working relationships with staff and stakeholders across BAS including: leadership and senior management teams, science and Operations teams, corporate partner and programme leads. - Essential
  • Have and be able to develop strong business networks throughout our diverse range of stakeholder communities. - Essential
  • Understand clearly the importance of effective stakeholder engagement and able to promote this. - Essential

Standing & Experience

  • You will have a proven track record of leading complex operational functions at (or near) national level and sufficient credibility to operate effectively as a senior leader within BAS, NERC and UKRI. - Essential
  • You will be a convincing representative of the Director of BAS at national and international meetings, particularly those of a non-scientific nature. - Essential
  • You will have a clear understanding of, and the ability to promote, Health & Safety within a complex organisation. - Essential
  • You will be qualified to degree level in a Business discipline, or demonstrate significant equivalent experience of Operations in a relevant field. Qualification in project management is desirable, as is professional membership of a relevant business institution. - Essential
  • Experience of working in a leadership role in the public sector, an academic or a research organisation would be beneficial. - Essential
  • Ideally you will have a sound understanding of the public sector ethos and requirements of managing public money. - Essential
  • Ideally you will have experience of working and managing Operations within the Polar Regions. - Essential


  • Able to develop a convincing strategic vision for Operations that reflects the needs of all stakeholders and is clearly aligned to NERC objectives, including the maintenance of an Antarctic presence. - Essential
  • Have a commitment to effective operational support for the benefit of science. - Essential
  • Understand the importance of all aspects of the BAS mission and will develop strategies that ensure operational activities reflect this. - Essential
  • Understands and can promote effective stakeholder engagement. - Essential
  • Able to think and contribute strategically in a wider context as part of the BAS leadership team. - Essential

You can apply for this job online or you can print off the application forms, fill them out by hand and mail them.

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Apply by post:

If you would like to apply for this job but cannot apply online, you can print the application form(s) and post it back to us.

Please ensure you complete all required sections of the application form(s) and include a Cover Letter and a copy of your CV.

When posting your application, ensure there is sufficient postage.

These forms are in an OpenDocument format and may not be suitable for users of assistive technology. An accessible format may be requested by contacting us.

Send your completed application forms to:
Human Resources Team
British Antarctic Survey
High Cross, Madingley Road
United Kingdom

If you need more information

Email: [email protected]
Telephone: +44 (0)1223 221400
Facsimile: +44 (0)1223 362616

The information you provide during the application process will only be used for the purpose of progressing your application, to fulfil legal or regulatory requirements where necessary or, in the case of the Equal Opportunities Monitoring Questionnaire, to help BAS meet its equal opportunities policy.

The British Antarctic Survey will not share the information you provide with any third parties, and the information will be held securely by the British Antarctic Survey whether the information is in electronic or physical format. Please note that the Equal Opportunities Monitoring Questionnaire will be detached from your application prior to the short-listing of candidates for interview.

Unsuccessful applications will be securely destroyed 6 months after the end of the recruitment process (or 1 year after the end of the recruitment process in the case of Marine Staff and AEP. The applications of successful applicants will be retained as part of their personnel file.

Further information can be found in the information notice of NERC, our parent body.