Chief Operating Officer


  • Salary: £62,000
  • Bonus: up to £9,300
  • Location: Remote working anywhere in the UK
  • Closing date: 27th June 2022


We are a rapidly growing social enterprise dedicated to the acceleration of gender equity in higher education. We believe that gender equality is taking too long and we don’t want to be talking to our grandchildren about the same challenges being faced today. Our mission is to support women to achieve fulfilment in their careers and to support universities to achieve systemic and cultural change.

We spearhead key initiatives as well as hosting the first and only network for all women working in higher education.  In the last year, we successfully launched two programmes to accelerate gender equity in UK higher education:
  • 100 Black Women Professors NOW - our systemic change programme which works with six universities in parallel, bringing together Vice-Chancellors, senior leaders, heads of department and HR directors to unblock systemic and cultural barriers and in parallel supports black women academics’ career development;
  • Women’s Career Accelerator – our programme delivered in house to rapidly support the achievement of greater career fulfilment and progression. 
  •  Furthermore, we have three other programmes in early-stage development and growth, incorporating Vice-Chancellor Incubator, Networks for Impact and 100 Black Women Researchers. Going forwards, we will continue to invest in highly innovative and effective ways to deliver accelerated change across the sector.



You will be the CEO’s right arm, responsible for delivering the strategy that will lead to accelerated gender equity in the higher education sector. You will build the foundations, culture and practices that enable the delivery of our strategy. You will unify and align the work across teams, introduce policies and procedures, allocation resources and co-ordinate activities and plans.

The responsibilities of the Chief Operating Officer span six different areas:
  1. Leadership and strategy: act as a strategic partner to the CEO, with a focus on turning plans into action, and build our capacity for planning, project management, monitoring, evaluation, and learning. Provide the focal point for the team’s activities, overseeing the day-to-day operations of all delivery, including planning, organising, and directing projects.
  2. Team: Lead the development and implementation of our people strategy through line management of staff, volunteers, and strong relationships with other key stakeholders
  3. Financial strategy and business model: lead the development and delivery of our financial strategy, including income diversification, and project manage and support the development of new client proposals and funding bids
  4. Financial management: lead the development and delivery of our processes for financial planning, control, and reporting, including cash flow management and working with accountants to manage our audited annual accounts, and build the team’s capacity for financial management
  5. Operations: take ownership of all aspects of operations policy and practice, and lead our approach to information management, data protection and risk management. Produce monthly management data reports and updating to key stakeholders
  6. Governance: coordinate the advisory board recruitment and management, including the production of board papers and reports, ensure that governance processes are effective, and maintain a watching brief on governance and legal requirements 

Person specification

We are seeking an experienced, reliable, and ambitious individual who can lead a team and make a difference. You will be a leader who sees possibilities and makes things happen, whilst carefully managing risks. We are looking for entrepreneurial creative thinkers who love to problem solve and who have successfully navigated a substantial organisational growth. Suitable applicants must possess passion for this acceleration and have an understanding or appreciation of gender equality, higher education, and change. We’re looking for potential, so tell us about what you can bring to the role.

  • A respected leader with a strong commercial mind-set, with knowledge and confidence in Finance, Human Resources and/or Legal
  • A confident and supportive manager of people and stakeholders
  • Extensive experience of setting and managing budgets at the highest level and implementing and maintaining financial controls.
  • A proven track record of leading commercial negotiations and delivering value for money.
  • Experience in working with board member/Vice-Chancellor level to build relationships and secure support
  • A demonstrable history of advancing diversity and developing inclusive cultures
  • Experience working within the higher education sector or consultancy/training and development environments.
  • Experience of negotiating and managing significant commercial contracts.
  • Able to maintain a clear focus on maximising resource efficiency, challenging the value of activities against strategic prioritises and focusing managers on getting a good return for public and philanthropic money.
  • Strong communication and relationship skills, including proven ability to collaborate with senior leaders and partners within the organisation and externally, and ability to deliver complex, sensitive, and sometimes challenging corporate messages.
  • Skilled at working with and through others, including leading through leaders.
  • Excellent self-awareness, emotional and social intelligence
  • Dynamic, flexible, responsive, and always able to find a solution or route forward.  


Working at WHEN

We are a small team comprising two other staff, a large team of volunteers and even bigger supportive network of allies and champions from across the sector.

Working with us
Our challenge is to accelerate gender equality for all women, not just some. To be effective, together we’re creating a culture where everyone, from any background, can do their best work.
We believe it is crucial that we reflect the communities we serve, as our decision-making should involve and be held to account by those with the personal experience of the barriers we’re here to break down.
As such we particularly welcome applications from candidates who are disabled; Black, Asian, or Minority Ethnic; Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans, non-binary, and related communities.
Working flexibly
We know our people and teams thrive when we trust each other to perform. No micromanagement or clock watching here! You get your work done in the way that works best for you, your team, and your life.
Our agile way of working gives you flexibility. Need to start late, finish early, or fancy a change of scenery? That’s fine, we focus on what you achieve, not presenteeism. And if you need a set and regular working pattern to support your life have a chat with us about flexible working options.
Supporting you to do your best work
We’ll give you 25 days holiday a year (excluding bank holidays). Because it’s important for all of us to rest, pause and reflect, the whole team will also be given an additional three days of leave during our Winter Shutdown.
We are committed to providing our employees with a supportive workplace pension scheme that is. For all employees, we have a Pension Plan with Nest. This plan allows employees to contribute a minimum of 5% of their qualifying earnings up to the maximum allowed within HMRC limits. And we will match your contribution, with 5% of pensionable earnings.

How to apply

Please provide your CV and a supporting statement by 9am 27th June. (Email to [email protected]). Your statement should include the answers to the following questions in one document (max 250 words per question):

  1. We value a strong team built around a shared sense of purpose. Why is our mission and vision important to you?
  2. Organisations thrive and excel when they bring diverse viewpoints to bear. How have you approached building an inclusive culture in your current or previous organisation?
  3. At WHEN, we value transparency and high trust working practices to enable colleagues to exercise ownership and initiative. How can your role facilitate this?
  4. We are seeking a seasoned leader with a strong commercial mind-set ideally with experience leading support functions including Finance, Human Resources, Legal and/or Facilities. Please tell us about your experience and approach to your role.


Final Interviews will be held on Monday 11th July, in London. 


Download role description

A message from our Founder and CEO

Alice Chilver

I am delighted you have expressed interest in WHEN at this pivotal moment in our development.
We exist to speed up gender equality and, through that, a higher education system where no woman’s career success is limited by their gender – where every woman, wherever they work, whatever their background can fulfil their potential.
If we don’t get this right as a sector we will fail at a basic moral level. We will fail economically, and we will fail to create a place that everybody feels a part of. If we do get it right, then we have a sector where talent and dedication can get you to where you want to your career and where everyone has a stake in the future.
There are many forces at work on this issue, but we choose to view them through the lens of the women and the Universities they work in. A University willing to change can not only deliver fulfilling careers for all women but can connect the resources of an organisation like ours to mobilise sector wide change. Put simply, we want women from all backgrounds to achieve their career ambitions. Some of them already do! And we want that to be true for all of them.
We support women to be their best. We support Universities to achieve change. We support the higher education sector to learn and grow.
We are a small, ambitious, and fast-growing social enterprise. We conduct ourselves with professionalism and rigor, and with a passion to solve the problems that stand in the way of a fairer sector. And we are trying to build a brilliant, progressive place to work – one that will attract and retain the talent we need to crack these intractable problems.
We therefore expect leadership without ego: confident and tolerant of ambiguity, but also humane, supportive, and unfailingly honest.
The COO role will be pivotal in building our organisation. You will create foundations that enable us to do our best work. You will also have an obvious commitment to equality, diversity, and inclusion in the way you lead and the organisations and teams you build.
Will you stand with us to speed up change?

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