Defra offers £135k for COO who will 'challenge status quo'

Candidate sought to deliver "significant and real step change in performance and outcomes"


Photo: Nick Ansell/PA Wire

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is seeking a chief operating officer to drive “continuous improvement and transformational change” across the Defra Group.

The department is offering up to £135,000 a year – slightly less than the £140,000 it offered for the same role in January 2019 – for a candidate who will be responsible for “building organisational capability and driving performance and delivery across a range of professional disciplines”.

The next COO will overhaul Defra’s corporate services model, taking control of the department’s digital, data and technology services, HR, finance, commercial and property functions, according to the job ad.


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Their work will “lead to functional operations being delivered more efficiently and more effectively across the Defra Group”, which is made up of 33 agencies and public bodies, including Natural England and the Environment Agency, as well as the core department.

They will lead an ongoing transformation and improvement programme that aims to “create efficiencies through functional excellence and through scale, technology and robust policies and processes”.

“Significant progress in this programme has been made already and the foundations have been laid but there is more work to do to embed and realise the benefits from an integrated services model and achieve a real step change in performance and outcomes,” the candidate pack said.

In leading the programme, the successful candidate will be able to deliver a “significant and real step change in the department’s performance and outcomes,” it added.

Writing in the candidate pack, Defra permanent secretary Tamara Finkelstein said the COO “will need to be confident about what can be achieved and innovative about how we will get there; prepared to challenge the status quo and drive sustained change”.

The department is seeking a “highly motivated and inspiring” leader who has led major transformation programmes in large and complex organisations in the past.

The successful candidate will replace Sarah Homer, a former London borough COO who moved to Defra in January 2019.

Applications for the role close on 10 July.

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