Regional Operations Director, Cultural Engagement at the British Council (4 Openings)

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The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We create friendly knowledge and understanding between the people of the UK and other countries. We do this by making a positive contribution to the UK and the countries we work with – changing lives by creating opportunities, building connections and engendering trust.
We work with over 100 countries across the world in the fields of arts and culture, English language, education and civil society. Each year we reach over 20 million people face-to-face and more than 500 million people online, via broadcasts and publications. Founded in 1934, we are a UK charity governed by Royal Charter and a UK public body.

We are recruiting to fill the position below:

Job Title: Regional Operations Director, Cultural Engagement
Locations: Abuja, Port Hacourt – Rivers, Kano and Lagos
Pay Band: SMPL
Contract type: Fixed Term Contract
Duration: 2 years (possibility to renew)

Role Context

  • This role sits within the Cultural Engagement (CE) Strategic Business Unit (SBU). CE brings together our portfolio of work in arts, education, English, and research. 
  • Our portfolio is delivered through a set of globally led programmes that locate our work and impact within our strategic framework. These programmes deliver our key performance indicators and impact ambitions.
  • With 1.75 billion – one in five of the world’s population – set to live in the region by 2050 and a GDP that is forecast to grow by seven per cent over the next two decades – faster than China – the future for Sub Saharan Africa is looking more positive than ever. 
  • The African demographic is young, aspiring and not tied to the past. Within 15 years it will represent 25% of global under-25s. However, 25% of them will face unemployment.
  • The challenge for the British Council and the wider UK is to recognise this new African reality and respond to it with products and services which serve the fast-changing needs of the region, and at the same time respond to the major developmental issues that remain, especially in the extraordinarily changing context of Covid-19. 
  • It is imperative for the British Council to monitor and continuously review the contexts in which it operates and ensure the impacts of Covid-19 are being understood and realised in order to be at the centre of an integrated cross HMG response. 
  • It is important for the British Council to ensure it is working across the full societal spectrum and also playing a significant role in ensuring the needs of the most poor and vulnerable are not forgotten but are actively met.
  • Grant funding remains important to us as part of our commitment to Overseas Development Assistance (ODA). However, earning income from other sources to enable us to deliver our cultural relations impact is becoming increasingly important, as the overall grant to the British Council decreases. Key areas for growing income are Full Cost Recovery (FCR) and co-funded contracts with donor agencies, foundations and corporate partners, particularly in Cultural Relations.
  • Against this backdrop of significant opportunities, and a desire to scale up and generate considerably more income, is the fact that we operate in a high-risk region geopolitically, economically and with regards to security. 
  • Operating contexts in many of the countries in the region are complex and volatile and this can have a very adverse impact on business performance. 
  • Fraud and financial compliance risks are ever present in the region and we are currently moving to regularise our tax and status position across the region (most recently in Nigeria), which, while putting us on a firmer footing to generate more income, is not without its complexities and business risks. All of this serves to make this role a particularly challenging one for the Sub Saharan Region.
  • The Cultural Engagement (CE) business unit in SSA aims to ensure a more coherent and integrated approach (within and between the client-funded and co-funded contract businesses) to our CE work in SSA that enhances our ability to achieve sustainable growth (turnover / profit) and create greater impact. 
  • This post is a critical in enabling us to deliver our current portfolio of work and to grow our business further in 22/23 and beyond. 

Role Purpose

  • Director Operations will be responsible for the overall day-to-day management of the Cultural Engagement (Education, Arts and English programmes) business operations within the region (i.e. business development, business delivery, assurance and adherence to global standards). 
  • They will work closely with SSA Portfolio Leads and report to the Regional CE Business Director. 

Main Accountabilities but not limited to the following
Leadership & Management:

  • Assure that operations in CE are on track, compliant and effective.
  • Deputise for the CE business director. 

Strategy & Planning:

  • Work with and support the business director of CE on business planning and strategy for the regional business.

Commercial and Financial Management:

  • Decision making of active contracts and pursuit.

Business Development:

  • Lead the rollout of business development systems including pipeline management and resourcing, contract approval process, etc.) and the SBU input to the regional Programme Based Planning process, ensuring fit with client and partner requirements, corporate standards, FP&A frameworks and compliance with commercial and non-commercial policy such as costing and pricing tools, ODA and non-ODA guidance, fair trade and state aid requirements.
  • Ensure that systems are in place to support effective decision-making across the regional and SBU leadership team.
  • Input into business development decision-making and resourcing as an active member of the Contract Approval Board
  • Lead business development exercises as required by portfolio leads, including provision of content to both technical and commercial proposals, ensuring client procurement requirements are fulfilled and strong competitive bids for contracts are submitted 

Operational Delivery:

  • Ensure corporate and client best practice and adherence to standards in business development and delivery, including ensuring that Centre of Excellence, business and quality assurance approaches and tools, programme based planning etc. are embedded and/or adapted across the business as appropriate for the operating context, in consultation and collaboration with Global Consultancy and Business Services team, regional heads of professional services (HR, finance, procurement, IKM, etc.) and regional SSA management.
  • Ensure that issues identified by business assurance systems are resolved.
  • Working with Portfolio Leads, ensure that project start-up and inception for all commercial and non-commercial contracts and programmes meet client and corporate standards, ensuring resources are in place and capability is built to manage projects to client and corporate standards.
  • Working with Portfolio Leads, ensure positive audit and external reviews
  • Support the Senior Evaluation Adviser with the introduction of new systems & processes to improve monitoring and evaluation of impact and operationalisation of the REF, in order to better demonstrate impact in the main result areas for the regional SBU and contribute to an impact- and evidence-led Programme Based Planning system.
  • Working with SROs and Portfolio Leads, address specific operational / programmatic challenges which will affect the achievement of agreed targets. This could include undertakings assignments individually, as a leader or member of a team, to fulfil achievement of impact, income and gross profit targets on the business plan.
  • May take on an SRO for commercial or non-commercial contracts and/or programmes if required.
  • Undertake reviews and lessons learnt of programmes / portfolios which will feed into the capacity development approach.

Risk Management:

  • Lead on risk management and compliance across the regional CE business, ensuring that all business risks are appropriately controlled and minimised.

Role Specific Knowledge and Experience
The main essential knowledge and experience points that we are looking for you to evidence are:

  • Graduate Degree in relevant field or work equivalent experience
  • Senior experience in international development programme delivery
  • Experience working in fragile states (desirable)

Application Closing Date 
30th October 2002

Interview Date
Commence 7th November 2022 

How to Apply
Interested and qualified candidates should:
Click here to apply online


  • Applications to this role can only be considered when made through the Apply section of our careers website. 
  • Our ‘ASK HR’ email is only to be used in case of a technical issue encountered when applying through the careers website. 
  • Emails with supporting statements and CV/Resumes sent to this email address will not be reviewed and will be deleted.
  • Candidates must have the pre-existing right to work in location.  Mobility / relocation support will not be provided
  • If you have any problems with your application please email


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