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Chief Operating Officer (NIHRIO)

Requisition ID:  5590

Newcastle, GB

Contract Type:  Fixed Term
Working Pattern:  Full Time
Posted Date:  15-Jan-2021


We are a world class research-intensive university. We deliver teaching and learning of the highest quality. We play a leading role in economic, social and cultural development of the North East of England. Attracting and retaining high-calibre people is fundamental to our continued success.


Salary: £51,034.00 - £68,251.00 per annum


Closing Date: 31 January 2021

The Role


We are looking for an experienced Chief Operating Officer to be responsible to the Director of NIHR Innovation Observatory and, via the Director, to the NIHR Innovation Observatory Stakeholders, playing a leading role in the development, strategic management and expert delivery of the local and national remit of NIHR Innovation Observatory. Delivering expertise in research programme management, significant financial oversight, delivering and reviewing the vision/strategy and key performance measures. You will be educated to degree level and/or have significant relevant management and leadership experience and proven success in a strategically important area. 


The National Institute for Health Research Innovation Observatory, based in Newcastle upon Tyne, is a new £18M initiative, funded by the National Institute for Health Research. NIHRIO brings together, in one centre, data scientists, evidence synthesis experts, and systematic reviewers to create a critical mass of expertise in observing and reporting on health innovation in the UK and beyond utilising next generational digital analytics. The Innovation Observatory is a partnership between Newcastle University, Newcastle Academic Health Partners, the National Innovation Centre for Data and the National Innovation Centre for Ageing.


This is a full-time post, tenable until 31st March 2024 (with any extension dependent upon re-funding of the Innovation Observatory).


Further information can be obtained by contacting Professor Dawn Craig dawn.craig@io.nihr.ac.uk or Jane Richards jane.richards@newcastle.ac.uk


The Population Health Sciences Institute is committed to supporting equality, diversity and inclusion for all staff and students.  Applications for part time/flexible working are welcome; please state your desired working arrangements in your application.


Key Accountabilities


Strategic Management

  • To work with the Director and Management Team to lead the continuous development, review of the Innovation Observatory, driving the strategic direction of the Unit
  • To work with the Director and Management Team in the delivery and annual review of the Innovation Observatory vision/strategy and KPIs, identifying strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, setting priorities accordingly and working with the Director to develop structures and plans to achieve these
  • To build strong and collegiate relationships with our external stakeholders and collaborators; founded upon transparency, openness, mutual respect and trust, to ensure the Innovation Observatory achieves its aims and objectives
  • To develop and maintain effective and proactive working relationships with the agencies to which the Innovation Observatory reports, namely the National Institute for Health Research and NHS E/I Accelerated Access Collaborative, taking a lead role alongside, the Director, in promoting the work/success of the Unit to assure its long term sustainability
  • To develop and maintain strategic networks that will be of benefit to the Innovation Observatory; including those across NIHR infrastructures, academia and industry, to assure the success of the Unit in meeting its aims and objectives
  • To provide independent judgement and advice on issues of strategy, vision, performance, resources and standards of conduct and constructively challenge, influence and advise and guide the Director and Management Team in developing proposals on such strategies
  • Facilitate proactive engagement with other National and International Horizon Scanning agencies to benchmark and ensure that best practice is being shared and followed by the Innovation Observatory
  • Provide day-to-day leadership and management of the Unit


Operational and Performance Management

  • To work with the Director to ensure that the Innovation Observatory delivers against its aims, objectives and key performance measures
  • Ensure, in conjunction with the Director/Programme Managers and relevant Stakeholders that standard operating procedures are maintained, clear actions and responsibilities are identified, and all business is conducted appropriately and efficiently
  • To oversee the production of key documents, plans and reports, including performance metrics and ensuring documents are prepared to a high standard and delivered on time
  • To take direct responsibility for identifying and developing systems to support delivery of the strategy and vision of the Innovation Observatory
  • Working with the Director and the University/Faculty in pro-actively managing Intellectual Property, commercial opportunities and the leveraging of assets, ensuring that due process is applied at all stages of decision-making and full consideration has been given to all options
  • To represent the interests of Innovation Observatory in national and international meetings and other fora, including NICE, NIHR, NHSE/I (including the Accelerated Access Collaborative), PHE, MHRA and other relevant bodies
  • Contribute to the development of the annual People Plan and have clarity over succession and talent requirements.  Ensure all people processes are delivered effectively and in alignment with the values of the University such as recruitment and selection, appraisal and workload allocation distribution
  • To support and oversee the management and support of grant applications, and bids for funding and consultancy proposals
  • Establish and manage processes and reporting that ensure that NIHRIO fulfils the requirements of our funder
  • Oversee the Innovation Observatory Stakeholder Board coordination including collation of membership, update reports and subsequent minutes
  • Oversee the day-to-day business of the Innovation Observatory, working closely with the Director and the Programme Managers
  • Ensure that the Innovation Observatory develops and implements a system of performance management and reporting that drives/supports the work of the NIHR Innovation Observatory in its key areas of activity
  • Lead an effective and ongoing communications that reaches out to all those with an interest in the success of the NIHR Innovation Observatory
  • Work collaboratively with the Director and Programme Managers to develop and deliver a programme of change projects aligned to the Innovation Observatory strategy
  • Work closely with the Management to in identifying stakeholder and market needs and developing a product roadmap to deliver

To be effective you will need to:

  • Have an understanding of the NIHR, NHS, NHS E/I and Health, Care and Public Health services within the broader landscape of medical innovation and regulatory pathways
  • Have knowledge of the digital/data analytics space or capacity to quickly develop an understanding
  • Become well informed about the work, and develop a good knowledge of issues relevant to the NIHR Innovation Observatory
  • Continually seek to develop and refresh knowledge and skills to ensure that their contribution remains informed and relevant


Vision and Values

You will has a responsibility for promoting the vision, values and goals of the NIHR Innovation Observatory through appropriate and visible leadership behaviour and actions. They will have a particular responsibility to:

  • Uphold the highest of ethical standards of integrity and probity
  • Create a culture of listening, openness, constructive challenge and support
  • Act with integrity, objectivity, honesty and openness
  • Be a champion for equality, diversity and inclusion
  • Demonstrate high standards of corporate and personal conduct as stated in the Nolan principles of standards of conduct in public life
  • Be an ambassador for the Innovation Observatory


The Person (Essential)

Knowledge, Skills and Experience


  • Proven track record of successful leadership in a multi-stakeholder environment
  • Significant experience of formulating and delivering strategy, including the development of  operational and strategic plans, and associated resource planning
  • Significant experience of managing change and supporting people to make transitions
  • Proven experience of building teams, who work collaboratively and flexibly and are accountable for delivering excellent service
  • Proven high level of decision making and problem solving skills, and a demonstrable ability to undertake initiatives, prioritise and plan appropriately within a strategic framework
  • Strong up to date knowledge of key management, business development, sales and marketing techniques
  • Knowledge of service delivery in the public/NHS/HE sector
  • Understanding of the complexities of the clinical trial, regulatory and innovation pathways across the health and social care landscape
  • Outstanding organisational, interpersonal, leadership and time management skills
  • Aptitude in sound decision-making and problem-solving in pressure situations
  • Understanding of financial management and planning
  • Success in working with senior management from a range of disciplines and across partner organisations and providing authoritative advice to senior colleagues
  • Line management experience (e.g. recruitment, appraisals, performance development) and supporting people to fulfil their potential
  • Excellent presentation and communication skills
  • Experience of managing and leading projects
  • Demonstrable experience of effective and successful leadership with clear direction
  • A proven track record of outstanding performance in a previous complex stakeholder environment
  • Understanding of the complexities and challenges of leading in Higher Education including an awareness of the regulatory frameworks


Attributes and Behaviour


  • Strong interpersonal leadership skills with the ability to coach and mentor effectively
  • Promotes and actively drives change within own area and across the organisation
  • High drive and initiative, able to demonstrate professional resilience
  • Exceptional interpersonal, communication and influencing skills able to operate and influence at the highest levels of industrial management
  • Politically astute and sensitive to the priorities and dynamics of an academically led organisation
  • Strong track record and desire in working collaboratively with colleagues at all levels across the organisation
  • Is inspirational and provides clear direction, particularly in times of uncertainty
  • Role model of the University values and guiding principles
  • People orientated, is approachable and has the ability to motivate and engage others to promote a culture of mutual respect
  • Able to act objectively in dealing with complex problems, issues and decision making
  • Able to manage conflicting priorities
  • Thinks creatively, an effective problem solver
  • Able to handle conflict in a timely and effective way, bringing situations to speedy resolution
  • Demonstrates resilience to the demands of the role and pace of change and is able to manage criticism and challenge
  • Creates a culture of mutual respect




  • Qualified to Degree level and/or with significant relevant management and leadership experience, and proven success in a strategically important area
  • Higher degree or professional qualification (Desirable)
  • Project Management or leadership qualification (Desirable)


Newcastle University is committed to being a fully inclusive Global University which actively recruits, supports and retains staff from all sectors of society.  We value diversity as well as celebrate, support and thrive on the contributions of all our employees and the communities they represent.  We are proud to be an equal opportunities employer and encourage applications from everybody, regardless of race, sex, ethnicity, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, age, disability, gender identity, marital status/civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, as well as being open to flexible working practices.


The Institute is part of the Faculty of Medical Sciences which holds a Silver Athena SWAN award.


Requisition ID: 5590