Chief Scientist

Nesta Chief Scientist
Location London, UK
Application deadline 15 March 2021
Contract type Permanent
Hours Full-time
Salary GBP96,758-121,727 plus excellent benefits
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We are Nesta. The UK’s innovation agency for social good. We design, test and scale new solutions to society’s biggest problems, changing millions of lives for the better.

We confront challenges that affect millions of people, from chronic childhood inequality to ill-health and the climate crisis.

We believe that innovation is more possible now than ever before. We see opportunities to mobilise citizens and influence behaviour. A wealth of private and public capital that can be used more creatively. Pools of data to mine.

And so we draw on these rich resources by bringing together multidisciplinary teams: data scientists, designers and behavioural scientists, practitioners at the frontline, academics; and people with lived experience.

Together, we design, test and scale new solutions to society’s biggest problems. We partner with frontline organisations, build new businesses and work to change whole systems. Harnessing the rigour of science and the creativity of design, we work relentlessly to put ideas to the test.

The role

Your team is working with a local authority to eliminate the gap in school-readiness between children on free school meals and the national average. Your role is to ensure that our researchers understand the problem; guide our designers in crafting a solution; and design and run large-scale randomised experiments to test impact. You don’t stop at a single experiment but work with national government and implementation scientists to put the findings into practice – changing the lives of children across the country.

Key roles and responsibilities

As Chief Scientist, you will set the methodological standards for our organisation. You will oversee six methodologically distinct ‘practice’ teams of experts – in experiments & evaluation; behavioural science; arts & culture; design; data analytics; and collective intelligence. You will bring these methods together, ensuring they cohere, and provide quality assurance on our work. These teams will work directly on Nesta’s missions and in some cases on projects commissioned by external funders.

You will be responsible for ensuring that our ideas are evidence-based and well-designed; our evaluations are credible; and that we do not overreach in the interpretation of results. Nesta wants to achieve impact by building and scaling solutions that work – you will be critical in helping us do so.

Your responsibilities:

  • As a member of our leadership team, you will champion and model our culture; inspire our people; make effective decisions; and support your peers to do the same.
  • Lead and manage Nesta’s practice teams to produce excellent work
  • Work with the Chief Programmes Officer and mission directors to make full use of Nesta’s practices to ensure we produce work of the highest quality and impact.
  • Grow Nesta’s methods by developing them and establishing new practice teams.
  • Act as principal Investigator on externally funded research projects
  • Represent Nesta externally at events and conferences

Experience and skills

Minimum qualifications:

  • Post graduate degree (preferably PhD) in a discipline or topic relevant to our practices (e.g. data science, statistics, economics, psychology).
  • Published, peer-reviewed research in at least one of our ‘practices’ (experiments & evaluation; behavioural science; arts & culture; design; data analytics; and collective intelligence).
  • Eight or more years’ experience in applied research

Preferred qualifications:

  • Experience as a Principal Investigator or Co-Investigator in empirical research
  • Ability to translate and explain applied research for non-expert audiences
  • Peer-reviewer level standards on the quality of evidence / research design.
  • Well-versed in statistical methods and techniques
  • Experience leading effective multidisciplinary teams that draw on different methods and approaches
  • Demonstrated ability to lead and motivate others
  • Experience in any of the following fields: early years; health; climate change; economic policy
  • Experience in an executive role with authority for strategic decisions affecting organisational impact, profitability, partnerships, and staffing