Role details

Economic and Social Research Council, Executive Chair

Application deadline 12 September 2022


Economic and Social Research Council
Sponsor department
Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Science & Technology
Number of vacancies
Time commitment
37 hour(s) per week
£120000 to £149000 per annum
Length of term
4 Years
Application deadline
11:59pm on 12 September 2022

Apply for this role

Timeline for this appointment

  1. Opening date

    7 July 2022

  2. Application deadline

    11:59pm on 12 September 2022

  3. Sifting date

    13 October 2022

  4. Interviews expected to end on

    17 November 2022

These dates are indicative and may be subject to change

Person specification

Essential criteria

Strategy skills

  • A commitment to demonstrate and maximise the economic and societal value of UK social and economic research, and
  • An ability to develop a clear and transformative strategic vision for ESRC's disciplines through the development of high quality programmes that maximise value for money

Sector leadership and stakeholder management

  • A credible leader with acknowledged experience in the application of social and economic science and research.
  • A good communicator able to command confidence and have credibility across both the wide academic domain of ESRC and stakeholder landscape including with Government Ministers, world class social science and industry;

Management and corporate leadership

  • Demonstrable capability as a senior leader and manager, able to deliver research and innovation results;
  • An ability to advise on major business developments that impact on the Council’s role or activities and on its exposure to, and management of, risk;
  • Ability to manage and build the capability of a diverse cadre of skilled employees and programme managers and able to inspire and motivate colleagues throughout the organisation

Partnering and impact

  • Capable of a collegiate approach across UKRI, working with peers on the Executive Committee to deliver against a shared strategy for innovation and research;
  • Expertise and credibility in communicating the insights from social science and turning them into impact

Desirable criteria

Desirable criteria:

  • Commitment and ability to drive interdisciplinary working and advance links to innovation and public policy

Role description


About UKRI and ESRC

All the key opportunities and challenges for the UK have people and behaviour at their core. Responding to the COVID 19 pandemic and its aftermath, raising productivity, realising the full potential of medical and technological advances, coping with an ageing population, addressing climate change and improving public services; all require a rich understanding of how individuals, firms, markets, communities and governments behave and interact.

ESRC, as the UK’s largest funder of economic, social, behavioural and human data science, supports social science that generates this rich understanding. Its focus is on creating a world leading portfolio of research, data and training that builds fundamental understanding ofour social and economic world, and on improving how we align this research with pressing societal challenges in order that it delivers significant benefits to the economy and society.

The ESRC is an integral part of UKRI alongside the other six Research Councils, Research England and Innovate UK. This facilitates the closest possible collaboration across the whole breadth of UK’s research and innovation activity, allowing completely new integrated ways of working to thrive. UKRI is led by Dame Ottoline Leyser as CEO and overseen by an influential independent Chair and Board. It is funded by UK taxpayers via the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy. The successful applicant will be accountable to the Board and CEO, have access to Ministers and will be selected by the Secretary of State for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Role description

The Role

We are seeking an outstanding leader for the Economic and Social Research Council who will build and enhance its worldwide reputation for excellence in economic and social sciences research and oversee its investments in research centres and infrastructure. This is a uniquely exciting opportunity to shape the future profile of economic and social sciences research in the UK and help to develop and train the researchers of the future.

As Executive Chair of ESRC, you will have responsibility for an annual core budget of over £180m alongside cross UKRI funds and lead circa 210 dedicated staff based across Swindon and London.

The Executive Chair, working with the ESRC Council members, is responsible for setting and implementing the strategic vision for ESRC and through this, shaping UKRI’s direction and position on the social sciences. As a visible and credible leader of both ESRC and the wider social science research community, you will provide direction ensuring delivery of world class research, innovation, skills development and infrastructure investment. You will be closely involved in the wider leadership and decision making of UKRI and have the opportunity to lead on one or more major cross cutting themes for UKRI.


Organisation description

The Responsibilities

  • As a member of the Executive Committee, work with the UKRI Board to deliver best value from the science and innovation funding system and contribute to the development and implementation of the overall UKRI Strategy;
  • Act to ensure UKRI is a strong, unified voice for research and innovation, in facilitating dialogue with key stakeholders including government and with partners on the world stage;
  • Enhance ESRC’s capability as a major contributor to world leading research in the social sciences both nationally and internationally;
  • Work to ensure the linkage of research to innovation, i.e. by supporting the innovation work of other UKRI Councils but also more widely to support the sector in working closer to the market and with businesses;
  • Lead ESRC in the successful pursuit of its objectives providing the inclusive vision necessary to maintain and develop the quality and outputs of its research, postgraduate and capital investment portfolio, ensuring routes to innovation where appropriate;
  • Work with the Senior Independent Member and ESRC Council to lead and develop ESRC’s strategic approach to the funding of research and alignment with innovation, in relation to both directed and responsive mode programmes, to the funding of postgraduate/skills training and its investment in major longer term capital projects; and to ensure that the UK develops its world leading position in economics and social science;
  • Work collaboratively across UKRI to foster interdisciplinary work and build on collective capabilities, ensuring cross-Council working, links through to innovation where appropriate and providing support and challenge when required. This is likely to include specific responsibility for the strategy and delivery of one or more cross-cutting activities, presenting opportunities for the Executive Chair to develop UKRI functions within their experience and expertise that support the work of all of the councils;
  • Maximise efficiency and ensure value for money from public investment;
  • Represent and develop positive relationships between the ESRC and its diverse stakeholders in government and public funding agencies, higher education institutions, academic and research communities, third sector, industry and the public at large and internationally; and advocate for the value of the economic and social sciences; and
  • As a core member of the senior leadership team, continue to drive forward the ongoing programme of transformational change to build UKRI and its capabilities as a steward of the research and innovation system, led by and accountable to the UKRI CEO.
Please see candidate pack here. 

Regulation of appointment

This is a Public Appointment, made by the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and regulated by the Commissioner for Public Appointments. The post holder will be an office holder and an employee of UKRI.

The successful candidate will be encouraged to take up their appointment as soon as possible, following the successful completion of pre-appointment checks and security clearance.

If you are shortlisted for the role, due diligence will be carried out.

Shortlisted candidates may also be required to complete a written exercise as part of their assessment. The written exercise will be assessed against the essential criteria for this campaign and support will be offered to those candidates requiring a reasonable adjustment.

Interviews will be held in person at UKRI's office in Central London.

This appointment is subject to pre-appointment scrutiny by the Science and Technology Select Committee. Pre-appointment scrutiny is an important part of the appointment process for some of the most significant public appointments made by Ministers. It is designed to provide an added level of scrutiny to verify that the recruitment meets the principles set out in the Governance Code on Public Appointments.

Information concerning the appointment and the Government’s preferred candidate will be shared with the relevant select committee. As part of this process you will need to be content for your name and your CV to be shared with the Science and Technology Select Committee as the Government’s preferred candidate.

Further information can be found in the applicant pack.

Application and selection process

How to apply

Please see our candidate pack here

Your application is submitted in two parts.

Both parts must be submitted by 23:59 on 12 September 2022 in order for your application to be considered complete. Applications received after this date will not be considered.

Part one: CV and Statement of Suitability

One document combining a two-page statement of suitability and two-page CV (no more than four sides of A4 in total). (no more than four sides of A4 in total). 

The key to a good application is to give the reader specific information about how you meet the criteria for appointment. Think about your knowledge, skills, experience and personal attributes, and take full advantage of the space available. Provide practical evidence that best demonstrates how you meet the essential criteria

Save the document as ‘Surname, First initial URN553 ESRC, Exec Chair.

Send to with URN553 ESRC, Exec Chair in the subject heading.

Part two: Diversity Monitoring and Conflict of Interest Form. Please click here to complete this form.

Overview of the application process

Public appointments are made on merit following a fair and open competition process which is conducted in accordance with the Governance Code for Public Appointments. We will deal with your application as quickly as possible and will keep you informed at key stages. We aim to conclude the appointment process within three months of the deadline for applications – this is in accordance with the Governance Code.

The assessment process

  1. Ministers are responsible and accountable to Parliament for the public appointments made within their department. As a result, they must be consulted at every stage of the appointments process.

  2. An Advisory Assessment Panel (“Panel”) is appointed by Ministers to assist them in their decision making. The role of the Panel is to decide, objectively, which candidates meet the eligibility criteria for the role.

  3. At the shortlisting meeting the Panel will assess applications against the eligibility criteria and decide which candidates should be recommended for interview. Ministers will then be consulted on the Panel’s recommended shortlist.

  4. Once the shortlist has been agreed by Ministers, you will be advised (by e-mail) whether you have been shortlisted. Those shortlisted will be invited to an interview.

  5. The Panel will meet again to interview candidates and determine who is appointable to the role. The names of all appointable candidates are provided to Ministers. It is then for Ministers to determine merit and decide who should be appointed. In some circumstances, Ministers may choose not to appoint any candidates and re-run the competition.

  6. The Panel’s recommendations will be provided to Ministers in a report which details the assessment method used and the outcome of each interview. They will then be asked to agree on the candidate(s) who should be appointed.

  7. Once the decision on the appointment has been made, interviewed candidates will be advised of the outcome of their application. Successful candidates will be issued with their Terms & Conditions and a letter of appointment should they agree to take up the position.

Advisory Assessment Panel (AAP)

Chair: Alexandra Jones (Director, Science Research & Innovation, BEIS)
Organisation Rep: Dame Ottoline Leyser (CEO)
Organisation Rep: To Be Confirmed
Independent Panel Member: Gerard Lyons
Advisory Assessment Panels (AAP) are chosen by ministers to assist them in their decision-making. These include a departmental official and an independent member. For competitions recruiting non-executive members of a board (apart from the Chair), the panel will usually include a representative from the public body concerned.
AAP’s perform a number of functions, including agreeing an assessment strategy with ministers, undertaking sifting, carrying out interviews in line with the advertised criteria and deciding objectively who meets the published selection criteria for the role before recommending to ministers which candidates they find appointable. It is then for the minister to decide who to appoint to the role.

Pre-appointment scrutiny

Pre-appointment scrutiny by select committees is an important part of the process for some of the most significant public appointments made by Ministers. It is designed to provide an added level of scrutiny to verify that the recruitment meets the principles set out in the Governance Code on Public Appointments. This scrutiny may involve the relevant select committee requesting and reviewing information from the Department and the Minister’s preferred candidate. The select committee may also choose to hold a pre-appointment hearing.
If you are confirmed as the government’s preferred candidate for this role, the department will be in touch to confirm next steps. In most cases your name and CV will be provided to the relevant select committee in advance of the hearing.  Following a date being agreed for a pre-appointment hearing with the committee you will be asked to complete a questionnaire in advance of that. Following the hearing, the government will review and respond to the Committee’s report before confirming the appointment. 
Full information can be found in the Cabinet Office’s guidance here. 

Eligibility criteria

In general, you should have the right to work in the UK to be eligible to apply for a public appointment.

There are a small number of specialist roles that are not open to non-British citizens. Any nationality requirements will be specified in the vacancy details.

The Government expects all holders of public office to work to the highest personal and professional standards. 

You cannot be considered for a public appointment if:

  • you are disqualified from acting as a company director  (under the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986);

  • have an unspent conviction on your criminal record;

  • your estate has been sequestrated in Scotland or you enter into a debt arrangement programme under Part 1 of the Debt Arrangement and Attachment (Scotland) Act 2002 (asp 17) as the debtor or have, under Scots law, granted a trust deed for creditors.

When you apply, you should declare if:

  • you are, or have been, bankrupt or you have made an arrangement with a creditor at any point, including the dates of this. 

  • you are subject to a current police investigation.

You must inform the sponsor department if, during the application process, your circumstances change in respect of any of the above points. 

When you apply you should also declare any relevant interests, highlighting any that you think may call into question your ability to properly discharge the responsibilities of the role you are applying for. You should also declare any other matters which may mean you may not be able to meet the requirements of the Code of Conduct of Board Members (see Outside interests and reputational issues section below)
If you need further advice, please contact

Security clearance

The successful candidate will be required to undertake Baseline Personnel Security Standard checks in line with the Civil Service guidelines. Additional Security Clearance may also be required for certain roles. However, where this applies, candidates will be notified during the appointment process. Further information on National Security Vetting can be found on the website here.

Additional information for candidates

Equality and diversity

We encourage applications from talented individuals from all backgrounds and across the whole of the United Kingdom. Boards of public bodies are most effective when they reflect the diversity of views of the society they serve and this is an important part of the Government’s levelling up agenda.
We collect data about applicants’ characteristics and backgrounds, including information about people’s educational and professional backgrounds, so that we can make sure we are attracting a broad range of people to these roles and that our selection processes are fair for everyone. Without this information, it makes it difficult to see if our outreach is working, if the application process is having an unfair impact on certain groups and whether changes are making a positive difference.
When you submit your application, your responses are collected by the Cabinet Office and the government department(s) managing your application. The data is used to produce management information about the diversity of applicants. You can select “prefer not to say” to any question you do not wish to answer. The information you provide will not be seen by the Advisory Assessment Panel who review applications against the advertised criteria and conduct interviews.

Disability confident

We are a member of the Government’s Disability Confident scheme. We use the Disability Confident scheme symbol, along with other like-minded employers, to show our commitment to good practice in employing people with a disability. The scheme helps recruit and retain disabled people. 
As part of implementing the scheme, we guarantee an interview for anyone with a disability whose application meets the minimum criteria for the role and who has asked that their application is considered under the scheme. Indicating that you wish your application to be considered under the scheme will in no way prejudice your application. By ‘minimum criteria,’ we mean that you must provide evidence which demonstrates that you meet the level of competence required under each of the essential criteria, as set out in the job-advert.
When you apply you will have the opportunity to select if you would like your application considered under this scheme.

Reasonable adjustments

Government departments are committed to making reasonable adjustments to make sure applicants with disabilities, physical or mental health conditions, or other needs are not substantially disadvantaged when applying for public appointments. This can include changing the recruitment process to enable people who wish to apply to do so.
Some examples of common changes are:
  • ensuring that application forms are available in different or accessible formats;
  • making adaptations to interview locations;
  • allowing candidates to present their skills and experience in a different way;
  • giving detailed information on the selection / interview process in advance to allow candidates time to prepare themselves;
  • allowing support workers, for example sign language interpreters;
  • making provision for support animals to attend.
When you apply you will have the opportunity to request reasonable adjustments to the application process.

Principles of public life

Holders of public office are expected to adhere to and uphold the Seven Principles of Public Life These are:

  1. SELFLESSNESS - Holders of public office should act solely in terms of the public interest. They should not do so in order to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves, their family or their friends;
  2. INTEGRITY - Holders of public office should not place themselves under any financial or other obligation to outside individuals or organisations that might seek to influence them in the performance of their official duties;
  3. OBJECTIVITY - In carrying out public business, including making public appointments, awarding contracts, or recommending individuals for rewards and benefits, holders of public office should make choices on merit;
  4. ACCOUNTABILITY - Holders of public office are accountable for their decisions and actions to the public and must submit themselves to whatever scrutiny is appropriate to their office;
  5. OPENNESS - Holders of public office should be as open as possible about all the decisions and actions that they take. They should give reasons for their decisions and restrict information only when the wider public interest clearly demands;
  6. HONESTY - Holders of public office have a duty to declare any private interests relating to their public duties and to take steps to resolve any conflicts arising in a way that protects the public interest;
  7. LEADERSHIP - Holders of public office should promote and support these principles by leadership and example.

Code of conduct for board members

The Government expects all holders of public office to work to the highest personal and professional standards. In support of this, all non-executive board members of UK public bodies must abide by the principles set out in the Code of Conduct for Board Members of Public Bodies. The Code sets out the standards expected from those who serve on the boards of UK public bodies and will form part of your terms and conditions of appointment.

Management of outside interests and consideration of reputational issues

Holders of public office are expected to adhere and uphold the Seven Principles of Public Life and the Code of Conduct for Board Members of Public Bodies. Before you apply you should consider carefully: 
  • any outside interests that you may have, such as shares you may hold in a company providing services to government; 
  • any possible reputational issues arising from your past actions or or public statements that you have made; 
  • and/or - any political roles you hold or political campaigns you have supported; 
which may call into question your ability to do the role you are applying for.
You will need to answer relevant questions in relation to these points when making an application. Many conflicts of interest can be satisfactorily resolved and declaring a potential conflict does not prevent you from being interviewed. If you are shortlisted for an interview, the panel will discuss any potential conflicts with you during that interview, including any proposals you may have to mitigate them and record that in their advice to ministers. Alongside your own declaration, we will conduct appropriate checks, as part of which we will consider anything in the public domain related to your conduct or professional capacity. This may include searches of previous public statements and social media, blogs or any other publicly available information. The successful candidate(s) may be required to give up any conflicting interests and their other business and financial interests may be published in line with organisational policies. 
Details of declared political activity will be published when the appointment is announced, as required by the Governance Code (political activity is not a bar to appointment, but must be declared).

Status of appointment

You will not become a member of the Civil Service. You will not be subject to the provisions of employment law.

Appointment and tenure of office

Appointments are for the term set out in this advert, with the possibility of re-appointment for a further term, at the discretion of Ministers.  Any re-appointment is subject to satisfactory annual appraisals of performance during the first term in the post. If re-appointed, the total time served in post will not exceed more than two terms or serve in any one post for more than ten years

Remuneration, allowances and abatement

Remuneration for this role is treated as employment income and will be subject to tax and National Insurance contributions, both of which will be deducted at source under PAYE before you are paid.
You can claim reimbursement for reasonable travel and subsistence costs necessarily incurred on official business however these payments are taxable as earnings and will be subject to tax and national insurance, both of which will be deducted at source under PAYE before you are paid. 

Application feedback

We will notify you of the status of your application. We regret that due to the volume of applications received, we are only able to offer feedback to candidates who have been unsuccessful at the interview stage.

How to complain

We aim to process all applications as quickly as possible and to treat all applicants with courtesy.
Please contact the public appointments team in the first instance if you would like to make a complaint regarding your application at
 They will acknowledge your complaint upon receipt and respond within 15 working days.

How to complain to Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments (OCPA)

If you are not content with the appointing department’s response you may wish to further complain to the Commissioner at information on how the Commissioner handles complaints can be found on the Commissioner for Public Appointments’ website

Data protection

The Cabinet Office will use your data in line with our privacy policy.
BEIS PUBLIC APPOINTMENTS PRIVACY NOTICE   This notice sets out how we will use your personal data, and your rights. It is made under Articles 13 and/or 14 of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).  YOUR DATA   We may process the following personal data:    name, contact details, employment history, qualifications, CV and other background information relevant to your application including sift and interview assessments, conflicts of interest, and political activity.   This may also include other information gathered as part of due diligence, including information obtained from public sources.   Purpose / Whether the provision of personal data is part of a statutory or contractual requirement or obligation and possible consequences of failing to provide the personal data   To the extent that you are providing your personal data in relation to a BEIS Public Appointment, the failure to provide this information will mean that we are unable to progress your application for the positions advertised.    Our legal basis for receiving and using your data     Our legal basis for receiving and using this information is that BEIS and the Cabinet Office have both a legal obligation, and public task, to collect this data to ensure that high quality candidates are identified via robust recruitment processes in line with the Governance Code for Public Appointment published pursuant to Article 3(1) of the Public Appointments Order in Council 2019. If requested by the Commissioner for Public Appointments, this information can be shared pursuant to Article 4 of the Public Appointments Order in Council 2019.     We also process your data on the legal basis that it is necessary prior to entering into a contract/terms of appointment to carry out pre-appointment checks. We may process special category data which comes to light during due diligence checks which has manifestly been made public by you, or where it is of substantial public interest in order to carry out our functions If you have applied for a BEIS public appointment we will share your information with the  members of the Advisory Assessment Panel. If requested, it may also be shared with the Commissioner for Public Appointments pursuant to Article 4 of the Public Appointments Order in Council 2019. This will be in a non-identifiable way.     We also process your data on the legal basis  that it is necessary for the performance of a task carried out in the public interest or in the exercise of official authority vested in the data controller. This is enabled through section 149 of the Equality Act 2010. The specific category of personal data is necessary for the purposes of identifying or keeping under review the existence or absence of equality of opportunity or treatment between groups of people with a view to enabling such equality to be promoted or maintained. It is not carried out for the purposes of measures or decisions with respect to your application for a government public appointment. You can choose not to declare this data.    Special category data is personal data revealing racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious or philosophical beliefs, or trade union membership, and the processing of genetic data, biometric data for the purpose of uniquely identifying a natural person, data concerning health or data concerning a natural person's sex life or sexual orientation.    Our legal basis for processing this information is documented above.    Recipients    If you apply or have been considered for a UK Government public appointment Information you supply to BEIS as part of your application for a UK Government Public Appointment may be shared with Cabinet Office.    Diversity data which may include age, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, recorded disability, faith and geographical location, principal employment sector, number of government public appointments held, and declarable political activity may be held in a non-identifiable form for up to 5 years. This information may be shared with OCPA, your name will not be included. This data may be published in summary form.      This data is shared with Cabinet Office IT suppliers in order to securely collect and store the data. Contractual obligations in line with data protection law are placed on our data processors to guard against loss of your data and require them to take all reasonable steps to treat your data reliably and with integrity.    Retention period     Applicant data will be collected on behalf of the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments (OCPA) via a secure section of the HM Government Public Appointments website. BEIS may store your name, a summary of biographical details you shared and the outcome of your application for up to 3 years.     Diversity data which may include age, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, recorded disability, faith and geographical location, principal employment sector, number of government public appointments held, and declarable political activity may be held for up to 3 years. This information may be shared with OCPA in a non-identifiable format, your name will not be included. This data may be published in summary form.   The record of the sift and interviews will be held by BEIS for the duration of the post.    This data is shared with Cabinet Office IT suppliers in order to securely collect and store the data. Contractual obligations in line with data protection law are placed on our data processors to guard against loss of your data and require them to take all reasonable steps to treat your data reliably and with integrity.    Your rights    You have the right to request information about how your personal data are processed, and to request a copy of that personal data.    You have the right to request that any inaccuracies in your personal data are rectified without delay.    You have the right to request that any incomplete personal data are completed, including by means of a supplementary statement.    You have the right to request that your personal data are erased if there is no longer a justification for them to be processed.    You have the right in certain circumstances (for example, where accuracy is contested) to request that the processing of your personal data is restricted.    You have the right to object to the processing of your personal data where it is processed for direct marketing purposes.    You have the right to object to the processing of your personal data where the processing is necessary for the performance of a task carried out in the public interest or in the exercise of official authority vested in the data controller, such as the exercise of a function of the Crown, a Minister of the Crown, or a government department; the exercise of a function conferred on a person by an enactment; the exercise of a function of either House of Parliament; or the administration of justice.    Automated decision making    The existence of automated decision making, including profiling and information about how decisions are made, the significance and the consequences. The provision of the information you provide is not connected with individual decision making (making a decision solely by automated means without any human involvement) or profiling (automated processing of personal data to evaluate certain things about an individual.    International transfers    As your personal data will be stored on our IT infrastructure, and shared with our data processors, it may be transferred and stored securely outside the European Union. Where that is the case it will be subject to equivalent legal protection through the use of Model Contract Clauses or the Privacy Shield scheme.     Complaints    If you consider that your personal data has been misused or mishandled, you may make a complaint to the Information Commissioner, who is an independent regulator. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at:    Information Commissioner's Office  Wycliffe House  Water Lane  Wilmslow  Cheshire  SK9 5AF   0303 123 1113  Email:  Any complaint to the Information Commissioner is without prejudice to your right to seek redress through the courts.    Contact details   The data controller for Public Appointments is joint between the appointing department, OCPA and the Cabinet Office. The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS). Contact details are, BEIS DPO at:     BEIS Data Protection Officer, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, 151 Buckingham Palace Road, Victoria, London SW1W 9SZ.   Email:   

Contact details

If you have any further questions please contact Victoria Tewes via