Job vacancy: Head of Administration (0.8 FTE)

30 October 2020

Permanent contract, home working, £50,000 p/a pro rata

The Academy of Social Sciences seeks a highly competent and forward-thinking administrator to be responsible for our administration and to work alongside an externally facing CEO in developing the organisation.

You will play the leading role in developing the Academy’s administration function seamlessly in support of our new strategy. More than that, we seek a team player who understands what it is like to work in a small, busy charity, who relishes a combination of hand’s on ‘doing’, forward planning and managing, who is adept at communicating with senior figures and coordinating committees, and who has the drive, ambition and skills to implement developments in administration. In return for outstanding and sensitive administrative leadership, we offer a warm and friendly environment in which to work, some flexibility as to how the work is organised, and the opportunity to play an essential role at senior management level in the heart of the organisation. Common sense and a sense of humour are welcomed!

It’s an exciting time to join the Academy as we start to implement our new strategy and build on growth and development that has taken place in 2020. High quality and timely administration are essential underpinnings to the delivery of the strategy and to the day to day functioning of the charity. It is a varied and busy role requiring a sound intellect, considerable administrative experience, competent IT and data skills, and a good sense of judgement and diplomacy. You will have an appreciation of what it means to work in a small charity with highly distinguished Fellows, a sense of shared endeavour, a strong brand in the sector, and a growing reputation.

The Academy of Social Sciences

The Academy of Social Sciences is the national academy of academics, learned societies and practitioners in the social sciences. Our charitable purpose is to promote social science in the UK for the public benefit. Our membership is composed of around 1400 individual Fellows, both academics and practitioners, elected for their contributions to social science, and 46 member Learned Societies which serve individual disciplinary areas in the social sciences. As a charity the Academy exists for public benefit and, as such, serves the UKs social science community as a whole.

The Academy’s administration is to be led by the Head of Administration, a newly defined role. Our strategic and externally facing work to promote the social sciences is led by the Chief Executive. The latter includes awareness raising of the contributions of social science research to decision making, society and well-being through our Campaign for Social Science; advocacy, lobbying and other activities to help sustain the health of the social sciences in the UK, informed by our policy work; activities to promote the study of, and showcase employability in, the social sciences; and fostering cross sector innovation to enhance social science contributions to the challenges of our time.

The Academy legally is a charitable incorporated company and has responsibilities to both the Registrar of Companies and the Charity Commission. The Academy has a staff team of 9 individuals; 21 trustees; and draws on Fellows for volunteer support in a number of other areas. For more details see the latest Annual Report.

The Role

The role provides leadership to the administrative functions of the Academy and is responsible for the delivery of those functions, including governance and membership administration. It works primarily with the Membership and Database Officer and Administrative Assistant (both line-managed by the Head of Administration) and liaises with other staff as required.

The role reports to, and works closely with, the Chief Executive. It is one of the senior roles in the Academy, together with the Head of Policy. There is also frequent engagement with senior people both within and outside the Academy, including the President and Chairs of committees.

The four areas of responsibility, working with the administrative staff, are:

Administration planning & management

Ensure appropriate and cost-effective systems are in place for the Academy administration; set the administration timetable with clear deadlines and targets; and manage delivery to agreed outcomes.

Develop annual administration work plans aligned to annual cycles of work and the strategy.

Manage the administration team: agreeing individual workplans and priorities; allocating time; advising and supervising team members; performance review and management.

Oversee contracting and performance of professional advisors, suppliers and outsourced services, including IT and HR.


Ensure the Academy meets its legal/statutory responsibilities as a charity and company in a timely manner; including elections to the Council and annual returns to the Charity Commission and to Companies House; and in terms of GDPR and HR legislation.

Act as the Secretary to the Academy’s main committees: the Council (Board of Trustees; 3 x pa), the Learned Society CEOs Committee (3 x pa), the Nominations Committee (2 x pa) and the Audit & Risk Management Committee (2 x pa); inc. drafting administration-relevant papers and minuting.

Maintain administrative oversight of the Campaign Board meetings (for which the Campaign Manager acts as Secretary).

Plan and oversee the Academy’s Annual General Meeting held in June each year, including elections to the Council.

Fellowship, membership & nominations

Manage / oversee the nominations process for the conferment of Fellowships: supporting the two Fellows’ Search Committees and managing administrative staff in their work checking and collating applications, informing nominees of outcomes, preparing papers for the Nominations Committee, and publicising the outcomes.

Manage the work of the Membership and Database Officer in administering the Fellows’ and Learned Societies’ annual subscription renewal process; and in maintaining up to date Fellows’ records on the central database (ThankQ) and the website (with the Communications Manager).

Act as the liaison point for Learned Society members and take an active leadership role in the support the Academy provides for Learned Society members.

Manage the organisation of the Annual Lecture and of the President’s Lunch, or an equivalent annual event, for Fellows.

Administration leadership:

Plan and implement developments in administration systems and Fellow engagement frameworks to support the new strategy, including for example over the period 2021-2023:

  • Enhanced Fellows’ data capture and use of the CRM
  • A database of key external contacts
  • A searchable online portal of Fellows’ expertise
  • An online forum for learned society members
  • Developing a learned societies section on a new Academy website
  • Establishment of Fellow liaison points in universities and of active regional chapters
  • Any other duties as required by the Chief Executive within the broad scope of this role.


Salary: £50,000 per annum (pro rata salary for the 0.8 FTE role is £40,000 pa); plus benefits including pension and generous holiday allowance.

Four days worked per week (28 hours), with some flexibility in how those are worked.

We require contracted staff to be UK-based and either hold UK nationality or have existing rights to live and work in the UK.

The Academy is operating as a virtual organisation for the foreseeable future, with all staff working from home. It is currently envisaged that staff will be able to continue to work flexibly from home in the future if they wish but they should live within sufficiently close reach of London to travel in for monthly, face to face, team meetings. We will reconsider whether to invest in a small central London office once again when the pandemic is suitably under control. This would provide hot desk facilities for those team members who prefer not to work from home and would facilitate in-person meetings.

Skills and Attributes Requirements

Candidates will be expected to meet many of the following key competencies

  • A graduate with a good degree, ideally in one of the social science disciplines, and a lively mind
  • Substantial experience of administration and administration management, preferably in a charity or the public sector, and in a busy environment.
  • Proven ability to evaluate and implement change and development, where required, in administrative systems and processes.
  • Good judgement and sound diplomatic skills; well versed in working with senior individuals.
  • Awareness of statutory legal requirements for charitable companies; and good governance approaches.
  • Experience in working with and managing Committees; and writing minutes.
  • Experience of managing a small staff team and of leading project teams.
  • A sound understanding of what it means to work in a small charity/membership organisation.
  • A very high standard of written and spoken English.
  • IT friendly and competent and well versed in using modern office skills including a high level of competence in Microsoft Office suite.
  •  A proven ability to work with spreadsheets and numbers; and with databases.
  • An ability to grasp the big picture and at the same time to pay attention to detail.
  • A willingness to ‘do‘ as well as manage, combined with a flexible approach.
  • An interest in higher education, learned societies and/or social science is desirable.

Personal attributes sought:

  • Well-motivated self-starter, with a pro-active and thoughtful style.
  • Well organised with good time management skills and the ability to juggle priorities.
  • Friendly, positive and open manner; and a good team player.
  • Ability to motivate staff who report to you.
  • A willingness to work hard – this is not for those seeking a sleepy role.
  • Someone who seeks enjoyment in their work and brings a sense of humour to it.


Please forward a CV and tailored letter of application detailing your interest in the role and your suitability for it to [email protected] by 23.00 Monday 16 November 2020.

Interviews for shortlisted candidates are anticipated to take place in the week of 23 November.

If you have any questions about the role or application process please contact Dr Rita Gardner, Chief Executive, at [email protected].