Department for Education offers £145k for next COO

Perm sec Susan Acland-Hood says department wants someone with a passion to transform lives
DfE building in London. Radharc/Alamy

By Tevye Markson

05 Apr 2022

The Department for Education is hunting for a new chief operating officer,  and offering a salary of up to £145,000 a year for the right candidate.

Former Boots property chief Mike Green, who joined the DfE in 2012, is the current COO.

The COO has responsibility for oversight of the DfE’s £80bn-plus annual budget and runs all core corporate functions, including HR, commercial, governance and risk, and finance. They also lead the Operations and Infrastructure Group.

DfE permanent secretary Susan Acland-Hood said the ideal candidate will be an “inspirational” COO who can lead effectively across a wide range of professions and functions.

“This is a heavyweight director general role that leads on infrastructure across the whole education system, as well as operations for the department, including our capital programmes, digital, data and technology, human resources, finance, commercial, governance, risk, and sustainability,” she said.

“Your work here will shape the lives of children and learners, and the experience of those working in our sectors up and down the country – the buildings they teach and learn in, the technology they use, and the budgets that sustain them, as well as the way the DfE is supported and governed to be at its best.

“If you have the passion to transform lives, and the experience to make good organisations great, I want to hear from you.”

The successful candidate will also have experience leading in a large corporate role, be confident in their financial and commercial skills, passionate about people and skills development and determined to improve the infrastructure of the education system, Acland-Hood said.

She also highlighted the need for someone who is enthusiastic about data, digital and technology.

Civil service Fast Stream head Sonia Pawson recently said digital and data skills are becoming must-haves for promotion to top jobs in government.

The DfE COO job is one of the top 200 most senior jobs in the civil service, according to the applicant-information pack.

Applications for the role must be submitted by Friday, April 22, with the department anticipating interviews will be held from the end of May.

Interviewers will include civil service commissioner Paul Kernaghan, who will chair the process; Acland-Hood; and Cat Little, DG of public spending at the Treasury and head of the Government Finance Function.

Candidates can be based in London, Manchester, Sheffield, Coventry, Darlington, Nottingham or Bristol.

MoD seeks £250k submarine procurement chief

Separately, the Ministry of Defence is looking for a new chief executive for the Submarine Delivery Agency, with £250,000 a year on offer plus a potential bonus of up to £200,000 for the five-year fixed-term role.

An executive agency of the MoD, the SDA is responsible for procuring and disposing of the UK's nuclear submarines, as well as providing in-service support.

Sustaining that critical capability is the most significant and wide-ranging of all the major defence tasks, according to the MoD's DG for nuclear, Vanessa Nicholls.

The department is looking for a "highly credible leader with the ability to form positive, effective and trusted relationships with people at a high level in the defence nuclear communities", said Nicholls in a foreword to the job pack.

"You will need to inspire the SDA’s team to make the changes necessary for the future, have the personal resilience to work on very high-profile issues, and the personal integrity to deal with highly sensitive information", she added.

The SDA is based in Bristol. The CEO can be based at another MoD location but will frequently travel to other sites across the UK, including London, Bristol and Barrow-in-Furness and the naval bases at Devonport and on the Clyde.

The MoD has appointed GatenbySanderson, an executive search agency, to assist with the appointment.

Applications close on Tuesday, 19 April.

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