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Chief Executive Officer
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Chief Executive
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Chief Executive
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Chief Executive
Vacancy Description
Requirements: Candidates must have the right to work in the UK Closing date and time: Friday 27th March, 12 noon Location: London

Please note that in September 2020, the British Council will relocate its new global headquarters to: International Quarter, Stratford, London E20. 

British Council Chief Executive

London | Up to £150,000 per annum + bonus to 8% + Civil Service Pension Scheme

About the British Council


The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. As such, it builds connections, understanding and trust between people in the UK and other countries, making a positive contribution to the UK and the countries in which it operates. Each year, the British Council reaches more than
80 million people directly and more than 750 million people overall through its incredible variety of work in
arts and culture, education and the English language. 


At a time of uncertainty and change, never before has soft power and the British Council been more important, by promoting the UK’s place in the world, improving international relations, creating opportunities, building connections and engendering trust globally. The British Council operates in a unique stakeholder and governance context, being simultaneously a charity, a major commercial entity and a non-departmental public body. As a result, the British Council is constantly in the public eye and its corporate governance must be of the highest standard.


As it enters an important new international context for its work, the British Council now seeks to appoint its next Chief Executive.


The Chief Executive, working closely with the Senior Leadership Team, is responsible for leading an organisation with an annual turnover of over £1bn, with 11,000 staff in 110 countries worldwide.


Your opportunity to help shape our future


This is an opportunity for a proven Chief Executive to lead an organisation with a strong social purpose and significant commercial scale. In doing so, the new Chief Executive will lead the British Council’s new strategy to connect the whole of the UK with a larger, wider, more diverse group of people and leaders. In doing so, they will be critical in ensuring the British Council has a sustainable future and continues to be relevant and beneficial to its stakeholders.


The person-to-person connections that are at the heart of the British Council’s activities have never been more important than in this time of increasing tensions and challenges.  Therefore, the Chief Executive will be someone with a global perspective who is passionate about building bridges and giving people around the world access to networks which would otherwise be out of their reach.


To be successful, the Chief Executive will demonstrate a strong belief in the mission of the British Council and a commitment to teamwork, curiosity and positivity, whilst also possessing the highest standards of personal integrity and the ability to live the organisation’s values.



What you will bring to the role


  • You will be driven by a strong sense of social purpose and the desire to make a difference.
  • You will have a strong track record in senior leadership, mentoring and holding to account, with proven ability to provide strategic direction and lead organisational change.
  • You will demonstrate well-developed commercial perspectives and experience.
  • You will be experienced in leading a substantial and complex international organisation with a strong customer focus.
  • You will have experience of working with government.   
  • You will have excellent communication skills, with the ability to influence.
  • You will have a proven capacity to inspire and innovate.
  • You will have direct experience of working internationally and a strong geopolitical awareness.
  • You will be able to manage ambiguity and complexity, pressure and a rapidly changing environment.


Would you like to apply for the role?


Please download the following attachment for the full Role Profile and details of the application process, including all additional documentation to be completed.

Role Profile Update CEO.pdf

Data Monitoring Form.doc


Your CV, cover letter and completed Data Monitoring Form should be sent to: BritishCouncilCEO@kornferry.com – any queries can also be sent to this email address.


The closing date for applications is Friday 27th March 2020 at 12 noon.


Our Equality commitment


The British Council is committed to a policy of equality and to valuing diversity and is keen to reflect the diversity of the societies in which we work at every level within the organisation. We welcome applications from all sections of the community. We aim to abide by and promote equality legislation by following both the letter and the spirit of it to avoid unjustified discrimination, recognising discrimination as a barrier to equality of opportunity, inclusion and human rights. All staff worldwide are required to ensure their behaviour is consistent with our policies.


The British Council has Disability Confident Employer Status. We offer a guaranteed interview scheme for disabled applicants who meet the essential criteria for the role. Applicants are encouraged to highlight any specific requirements or adjustments needed to enable participation in the recruitment process.


The British Council is committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children, young people and adults at risk and expects all of its partners to share this commitment. In line with the British Council’s safeguarding policies, any appointment is contingent on thorough checks. In the UK, and in other countries where appropriate systems exist, these include criminal records checks.