VACANCY - Chief Executive Officer (CEO)

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) 

The Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) is South Africa’s statutory council for policy-focused research in the humanities and social sciences. The focus of its work is to generate knowledge to reduce poverty and inequality, and improve employment opportunities and the quality of life for people in South Africa and on the African continent. The organisation currently employs 450 staff in offices in Pretoria, Cape Town, Durban and Pietermaritzburg .

The HSRC seeks to attract talented researchers and funding that enables it to conduct large-scale, responsive and insightful studies in public health, education, economics and democratic governance. In our new strategic plan, we are committed to growing our efforts to translate this and other research into tangible social impact, and to do so as a trusted partner of both government and civil society.

The HSRC seeks to appoint as its CEO a dynamic, courageous, innovative and experienced thought- leader, who is able to motivate and inspire staff, partners and the public to support sustainable economic and social development, greater social equity, social justice and the extension and deepening of democracy.

The HSRC Board therefore invites further applications from suitably qualified candidates who meet the minimum criteria outlined below.

The appointment is for five years and may be renewable for a second term at the discretion of the Board. The successful applicant can be based in either Cape Town or Pretoria.

Key areas of responsibility of the CEO are to:

1.Drive the strategic direction of the HSRC in delivering "social science that makes a difference" to the development challenges of South Africa, the African continent, and globally;

2.Profile and position the organisation as a leader in the production and use of social science research with Government, the local and international scientific community, civil society and the private sector;

3.Actively drive initiatives to enhance the HSRC’s impact and visibility locally and internationally;

4.Provide intellectual and strategic leadership to the executive team of researchers and support services managers in the production and use of high-quality, policy-relevant social science research;

5.Sustain the organization through effective procuring, planning and managing of financial and other resources for optimal performance;

6.Account to the Board of the HSRC on the performance of the organisation;

7.Continue the transformation of the HSRC, with particular regard to its contextual knowledge production, staff capacity-building and organisational structure and culture; and

8.Enhance the HSRC’s research reputation nationally and internationally.

To achieve the above mandate, the successful applicant will ideally combine academic leadership and executive management experience in ways that include the following:

1.Academic standing, research gravitas and extensive experience of the local and international research environment.

2.Strong business, leadership and management abilities at an executive level, and the ability to provide intellectual and strategic leadership to the HSRC.

3.An understanding of the developmental context, issues and challenges of the country and the continent.

4.The ability to work with policy makers in Government, civil society and academic institutions.

5.Insight into the legislative and policy developments in higher education, science and technology in South Africa.

6.Access to research networks that can be mobilised to strengthen the HSRC, the country and the continent.

7.Entrepreneurial drive, experience and willingness to maintain relationships with existing funders and to seek new opportunities for external funding for important areas of research .

8.Capacity to drive the HSRC’s transformation agenda and targets.

9.Ability to strengthen and leverage the HSRC’s impact on knowledge, policy and society.

Minimum requirements

•A PhD degree in the Social Sciences or Humanities.

•At least ten (10) years of leadership experience in an academic/research/policy environment, five

(5) of which must have been at an executive level.

•Knowledge of the regulatory environment in which the HSRC operates.

Recommended additional requirements

•A management qualification in addition to a PhD degree.

•Experience in the public communication of social science research.

Given these demanding requirements, the HSRC offers a competitive package, designed to attract a candidate of the highest calibre. Relocation costs will be covered, if applicable.

The HSRC is committed to furthering employment equity in its appointment practices.

Applicants must submit a letter of motivation, CV, details of three referees with contact details (telephone and e-mail) and copies of three recent, sole or first-authored publications. The HSRC will only consider applications that comply with the above requirements. Shortlisted candidates will be invited to attend an interview on a date to be announced and will be required to make an oral presentation to the HSRC community in the competencies required.

Applications should be addressed to the Board Secretary and sent by e-mail to, by no later than 10 May 2021.

Confidential enquiries about the position may be made to the Chair of the Board, Professor Mvuyo Tom, via the Board Secretary.

Applications from recruitment agencies will not be accepted.