Executive Chair

Body: Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)
Appointing Department: Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Sector: Science & Technology
Location: Harwell, London and Swindon
Skills required: Change Management
Number of Vacancies: 1
Remuneration: The annual salary / remuneration package and detailed portfolio of responsibilities can be discussed with individual candidates depending on their skills and experience.
Time Requirements: 5 days per week. Applications are very welcome from those who wish to work part-time, in particular as part of a job-share arrangement, and those who wish to undertake the role on secondment from their current employer.


An announcement has been made on the outcome of this appointment.

Universities and Science Minister Sam Gyimah has today announced that Professor Mark Thomson has been selected to be Executive Chair of the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), following a fair and open competition.

Date: 22/01/2018

View Announcement

Campaign Timeline

  • Competition Launched


  • Closed for Applications


  • Panel Sift


  • Final Interview Date


  • Announcement



Assessment Panel

Vacancy Description

We are seeking an inspirational candidate with international standing and a proven track record to lead the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) as its Executive Chair, once it is established as one of the nine Councils of UK Research and Innovation in April 2018.

As part of UK Research and Innovation’s Executive Committee, the Executive Chair will have a critical role in sustaining the excellence of UK research and innovation and increasing its social and economic impact. The STFC Executive Chair will lead nearly 2,000 scientists operating world-leading science facilities across 6 sites in the UK, develop the council’s campuses, manage the UK’s participation in major international facilities, and champion and increase the impact of particle physics, astronomy and nuclear physics research.

The Executive Chair will lead on developing the UK’s research and innovation infrastructure roadmap on behalf of UKRI. This will involve designing and agreeing a process to map out the UK’s research and innovation infrastructure, both domestically and internationally, consulting with the wider research and innovation community in the UK and identifying and agreeing future investment priorities.

UK Research and Innovation

The creation of UK Research and Innovation represents the largest reform of the research and innovation funding landscape in the last 50 years. As a new, independent, non-departmental public body, it will bring together the functions of the seven Research Councils, Innovate UK and the research and knowledge exchange functions of the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) (to be known as Research England). The Higher Education and Research Act 2017 (HERA), which underpins these reforms, received Royal Assent on 27 April 2017.

The Science and Technology Facilities Council

The STFC was established in 2007. It supports research, innovation and skills in the fields of particle physics, astronomy, nuclear physics and space science through the award of funding to researchers in the UK and participation in major international collaborations. It also designs, builds, operates and exploits world-leading, large-scale research and innovation facilities in the UK on behalf of the entire UK scientific community, regardless of discipline. In addition, STFC manages the UK’s participation in and relationship with major international facilities such as CERN, the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) and the European Spallation Source (ESS). Its Research and Innovation campuses help businesses to thrive by promoting academic and industrial collaboration and encouraging translation of research to market applications and now support over 300 businesses.

STFC’s research seeks to understand the universe from the largest astronomical scales to the tiniest constituents of matter, yet it creates impact on a very tangible human scale. From cancer treatment to airport security, high-tech jobs to hydrogen-powered cars, energy generation to accident-scene emergency care; STFC’s impact is felt within and beyond the UK in many aspects of daily life.

In 2016/17 the STFC’s budget was around £660 million and it directly employs nearly 2,000 staff. It funds around 800 PhDs in universities and its activity supports over 1,700 academics working in astronomy, nuclear and particle physics. It also provides access for 3,600 researchers from academia and industry to the UK’s large science facilities (e.g. Diamond Light Source, the ISIS Neutron and Muon Facility and the Central Laser Facility).

The STFC will become one of nine Councils within UK Research and Innovation in April 2018, with delegated autonomy and authority, and with an individual delegated budget set by the BEIS Secretary of State. The Executive Chair will continue to be responsible for funding decisions within the STFC’s subject matter remit, and the mission and objectives of the STFC will not change as a consequence of its incorporation within UK Research and Innovation. However, the STFC will benefit from the significantly enhanced capability that UK Research and Innovation will bring, in a context of rising budgets for research and innovation. This includes a single UK Research and Innovation strategic, analytic and corporate centre with capability and expertise benefitting from economy of scale; much increased flexibility in developing multidisciplinary activity and joint working between the Councils; and a stronger more joined-up voice within government.

The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), the Biotechnology and Biological Research Council (BBSRC), the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the Medical Research Council (MRC), the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), and the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)

Person Specification

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy wishes to attract the highest calibre of candidates for this role. The successful candidate will be able to command confidence and represent the STFC at the highest level and be able to demonstrate the following:

Skills, Experience and Standing

  • A highly respected candidate of international standing with a proven track record in leading major research institutes and running large scientific facilities;
  • An inspirational communicator able to command confidence and have credibility across both the academic domain of the physical sciences and the broader stakeholder landscape;
  • Strong financial management with experience of managing major scientific programmes and facilities to deliver technical objectives to budget and schedule;

Strategic Vision

  • An ability to develop, lead and manage a clear and strategic vision for physical sciences and scientific facilities through the development of high quality, value for money programmes built on a thorough understanding of and engagement with the stakeholder landscape;
  • An ability to take a broad view of the STFC’s objectives and issues arising across the range of its remit in the context of UK Research and Innovation;
  • An ability to advise on major business developments which bring a significant change in the Council’s role or activities and on its exposure to and management of risk;

Leadership and Management

  • Proven leadership and management skills with a deep understanding and experience of change management and evidence of having successfully led cultural change and organisational development;
  • Experience of managing and building capability of a cadre of skilled employees and programme managers and able to inspire and motivate colleagues at all levels in the organisation;
  • Extensive experience of leading an organisation, the management of large and complex budgets and developing individuals to deliver their best;

Breadth of Understanding

  • In depth understanding of current developments in the full spectrum of the physical sciences and facilities landscape both in the UK and overseas, and other areas relevant to the work of the STFC; and
  • An ability to understand and demonstrate the highest standards of scientific research and its wider relevance to and impact on the cultural, social and economic wellbeing of the country.

Additional Information

BEIS is committed to providing equal opportunities for all, irrespective of race, age, disability, gender, marital status, religion, sexual orientation, transgender and working patterns and to the principle of public appointments on merit with independent assessments, openness and transparency of process Applications are welcome from all, especially women, minority ethnic and disabled candidates who are under-represented at this level in public life.

Applications are very welcome from those who wish to work part-time, in particular as part of a job-share arrangement, and those who wish to undertake the role on secondment from their current employer.

In order to ensure that UK Research and Innovation is made up of executives with the appropriate level of skills and experience, both UK nationals, and international candidates are encouraged to apply.

Sir Paul Nurse’s review of the UK Research Councils, available at:


The Government’s White Paper, ‘Success as a Knowledge Economy’ available at:


The Higher Education and Research Act, available at:


The Industrial Strategy Green Paper, available at:


How to Apply

The closing date for applications is 8 September, 2017.                      

Please submit the following documents by email to publicappointments@beis.gov.uk

  • A Covering Letter
  • A CV
  • Candidates Application Form

Please ensure that you include “Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) Executive Chair” in the subject box.

Alternatively, you can send your application in hard copy to:

Public Appointments Team, 7th Floor, Spur 2, 1 Victoria Street, London, SW1H OET

Applicant packs can be provided in other formats upon request.

UKRI - Science and Technology Facilities Council - Diversity monitoring form
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