We’re recruiting: Chief Operating Officer

Full-time, permanent, £50,000 pa – job share applications welcome. 

The Finance Innovation Lab works for a financial system that serves people and planet – one that’s democratic, responsible and fair. We incubate the ideas and people with the potential to transform the system, and we advocate for changes in the rules that shape the way finance works.

We’re a unique charity with a global reputation as a pioneer in systems change. Our work is driven by the belief that the dysfunctions of our financial system contribute to some of our most pressing social and environmental challenges, from fossil fuel extraction to unaffordable housing, but that it doesn’t have to be this way: people created the system and people can change it.

The Lab began as a collaboration between WWF-UK and the Chartered Institute of Accountants in England and Wales in 2009, and became an independent charity in 2015. We’re incredibly proud of what we’ve achieved since independence, including:

As we grow, so do our operational needs, and we’re ready to step up our ambition and effectiveness by appointing a Chief Operating Officer (COO). The COO will play a pivotal role in the team – enhancing our ability to translate bold ideas into rigorous plans and effective delivery, leading our financial and operational development, honing our approach to project and programme management, and enabling us to mature as an organisation and maximise our impact.

This is an exciting opportunity to join a very special organisation with a talented, passionate team, a thriving community of innovators, intrapreneurs and advocates, and a reputation for courageous programmes that embody our values.

For full details of the key responsibilities and the qualities we’re looking for, please download the job description.

The role in a nutshell

Working closely with the CEO, the COO will focus on turning strategic vision into effective delivery, as well as taking responsibility for the smooth running of the Lab’s organisational processes, including our finances, team, governance and operations.

The COO will also lead our financial strategy, with a particular focus on diversifying our income streams, and will project manage and support the development of fundraising bids.

In all of their work and relationships, the COO will reflect the unique nature of the Lab’s approach to financial systems change and will act in line with our values of collaboration, action learning and empowerment.

This is a new role for the Lab and our most senior appointment after the CEO. The focus of the role is generally internal, but there will also be opportunities to represent the Lab externally. As the Lab matures, we want to share our learning about what works (and doesn’t!) in building effective, agile, values-driven organisations, and over time this role will offer opportunities to build your profile as a leader in organisation-building for systems change.

You’ll be based in the Lab’s creative, pet-friendly office space in Kings Cross, with flexible working hours and scope for remote or home-working some of the time. We also welcome applications from candidates wishing to job share, either individually or in a pair.

Key responsibilities

The responsibilities of the COO span six different areas:

  • Leadership and strategy: act as a strategic partner to the CEO, with a focus on turning plans into action, and build our capacity for planning, project management, monitoring, evaluation and learning
  • Financial strategy and business model: lead the development and delivery of our financial strategy, including income diversification, and project manage and support the development of fundraising bids
  • Financial management: lead the development and delivery of our processes for financial planning, control and reporting, including our audited annual accounts, and build the team’s capacity for financial management
  • Operations: take ownership of all aspects of operations policy and practice, and lead our approach to information management, data protection and risk management
  • Team: manage the Team Coordinator, ensure joined-up team communications, and lead the development and implementation of our people strategy
  • Governance: coordinate the production of board papers, ensure that governance processes are effective, and maintain a watching brief on governance and legal requirements.

The COO will deliver all of their responsibilities in a collaborative way, facilitating team involvement in the design and delivery of processes and policies, and coaching the team to build their capacity for operational, project and programme management.

As a senior leader in a small charity, the COO will work at a range of levels, from developing high-level strategy to hands-on implementation. The COO will manage and work closely with the Team Coordinator, and will support other team members to contribute to the smooth running of the organisation. Where appropriate, the COO will also manage relationships with third-party service providers, such as accountants, auditors and legal advisers.

Who are we looking for?

The person specification asks for a wide range of competencies and we recognise that we are unlikely to find a candidate who fits every requirement. If you fit some of the essential and/or desirable criteria and believe you have the potential to learn the other areas of the role, we’d like to hear from you. The broad nature of the role means that there is some scope to shape the role around the skills and interests of the COO, within the core areas of responsibility outlined in the job description.

It’s vital that you:

  • Are passionate about the Lab’s mission to transform the financial system and have a keen interest in organisation-building for systems change
  • Are a collaborative leader with the ability to translate ambitious strategies into action, balancing the need for rigorous planning with the flexibility required in systems change initiatives
  • Can develop and lead the delivery of financial strategy in a not-for-profit environment, with a particular focus on income generation, and are skilled in developing funding proposals
  • Have experience of financial management, both at a strategic and day-to-day level
  • Have a good understanding of the full range of internal operations and an ability to manage these effectively in an agile and demanding environment
  • Have knowledge of good practice in charity governance
  • Have outstanding communication skills
  • Are a nurturing, people-centred manager who is strongly aligned with our core values of collaboration, action learning and empowerment.

It’s not essential to have experience of working in civil society, social enterprise or other not-for-profit sectors, but this would be an advantage.

We are committed to providing equality and fairness for all and not to discriminate on grounds of gender, marital status, race, ethnic origin, colour, nationality, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, mental health, religion or age. We encourage and celebrate the different qualities that our colleagues, and others we work with, bring to our work. And we believe that seeing things from a wide range of different perspectives helps us to resolve problems, adapt our approaches and develop as an organisation. We want to bring greater diversity to our team and we’re keen to hear what you think you’ll bring from your own background and experience (beyond your professional skills and knowledge).

For a full list of the characteristics we’re looking for, please download the job description. If you do not meet all of the essential requirements but still believe you could thrive in the COO role, please consider applying or get in touch to discuss your fit for the role.

If you’d like an informal discussion about any aspect of the role, please contact Rose O’Donnell (rose@financeinnovationlab.org) to arrange this.

How to apply

You can download the full job description here and application form here. You will need to download the application form to your own computer before you can complete it (click ‘Download’ in the top right of the screen).

Please apply by returning the completed form as a Word document (not PDF) to hello@financeinnovationlab.org by 9.00 am on Monday 4 February 2019. Please do not send a CV or letter of application – these will not be read.