JOB AD | CEO of the Human Sciences Research Council

Applications close on April 30 2020

30 March 2020 - 11:28
Applications for the CEO position at the Human Sciences Research Council close April 30 2020.
Applications for the CEO position at the Human Sciences Research Council close April 30 2020.
Image: 123RF/Kheng Ho Toh

The Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) in SA is a statutory council that conducts policy-focused research in the humanities and social sciences, for the public good. The focus of its work is to generate knowledge towards the reduction of poverty and inequality and improved quality of life. The organisation employs 450 staff in offices in Pretoria, Cape Town, Durban and Pietermaritzburg (Sweetwaters).

The council seeks to appoint a person who will lead the HSRC in implementing its five-year strategic plan, strengthen research & development in the humanities and social sciences in SA, and develop and solidify partnerships with local, continental and international partners.

This is a contract position for five years and may be renewable for a second term at the discretion of the board.

The successful applicant can be based in Cape Town or Pretoria.   

Key areas of responsibility of the CEO are to:

  • drive the strategic direction of the HSRC in delivering “social science that makes a difference” to the development challenges of SA, Africa and globally;
  • profile and position the organisation as leaders in the production and use of social science research with the government, the local and international scientific community, civil society and the private sector;
  • actively drive initiatives to enhance the HSRC’s affect and visibility locally and internationally; 
  • provide academic 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;
  • sustain the organisation through establishing fundraising mechanisms and effective planning and management of financial and other resources for optimal performance;
  • account, through the board of the HSRC, to the minister of higher education, science & technology and to parliament on the performance of the organisation;
  • strengthen the HSRC’s relationships with its key stakeholders and develop its collaboration network; 
  • extend the transformation of the HSRC, with particular regard to organisational development, capacity-building and representation; and
  • enhance the HSRC’s research reputation nationally and internationally.

To achieve the above mandate, the successful applicant will ideally have:

  • the intellectual and research credentials and standing to lead the research agenda of the HSRC;
  • good research networks that can be mobilised to strengthen the HSRC;
  • the entrepreneurial drive and leadership acumen to steer an organisation that relies on significant levels of external funding;
  • exceptional skills and experience in raising external funding;
  • a track record of demonstrated management skills at an executive level;
  • well-honed interpersonal and communication skills to interact at all levels in the HSRC, government, academic and business circles, both locally and internationally;
  • insight into and understanding of the development issues of the country and the continent, as well as knowledge of the legislative and policy developments in science & technology in SA; and
  • a strategic understanding of evolving trends in global, multilateral policy research.

Minimum requirements

  • a PhD degree in a social sciences or humanities field;
  • at least 15 years of leadership experience in an academic/research environment, 10 of which must be at executive level;
  • excellent communication skills; and
  • knowledge of the regulatory environment in which the HSRC operates.

Recommended additional requirements: a management qualification in addition to a PhD degree would be an advantage.

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 May 27 2020 and will be required to make an oral presentation to the HSRC community in the competencies required.

Applications should be addressed to the secretary of council, and sent 

  • by courier or delivery to Office 602, HSRC, Merchant House, 116-118 Buitengracht Street, Cape Town, 8001, SA, or
  • by e-mail to 

Fax applications will not be accepted.

For further enquiries regarding the CEO position, please contact the secretary of council, Marizane Rousseau, by e-mail at 

Applications should be submitted by no later than April 30 2020. Applicants who have not been contacted within eight weeks should assume that their application was unsuccessful. Only candidates who are interviewed will be advised of the outcome of the interview.

Applications from recruitment agencies will not be accepted.

This article was paid for by the Human Sciences Research Council.