Director of Design

Nesta Director of Design
Location London, United Kingdom
Application deadline 1 March 2021
Contract type Permanent
Hours Full-time
Salary GBP70,306 plus 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

Nesta is looking for an experienced Director to lead the design of programmes, products, and services in pursuit of our innovation missions. You will have in-depth understanding of strategies for uncovering critical information about people’s needs, values, and behaviours, and have the skills to lead user-centric prototyping and design of interventions. As well as being a designer yourself, you will direct designers across Nesta, advancing the overall practice and supporting team members’ professional development.

This role will require travel to partner sites across the UK.

Key roles and responsibilities

Your role:

  • Work with Nesta’s Mission Directors to lead identification, scoping, and delivery design needs of specific projects and programmes.
  • Oversee design and prototyping of services and interventions within partner settings, engaging external stakeholders (e.g. practitioners, users, policymakers) in the design process.
  • Ensure that the design activity across Nesta’s programmes is of high quality, drawing on a range of established and cutting-edge design approaches. Develop and experiment with new approaches.
  • Apply Nesta’s EDI principles to design both internally and externally; for example, developing ways to include those with lived experience in research.
  • Lead Nesta’s Design practice, sharing best practice and supporting the professional development of designers across Nesta.
  • Promote use of design approaches amongst non-designers; for example, raising the levels of design thinking and user-centric approaches across the organisation.
  • Work with other practice Directors (data science, evidence, and experimentation) to identify synergies across methods, and develop attractive propositions for partners.
  • Support the identification of new partnerships and opportunities to advance Nesta’s missions.

Experience and skills

The Person


  • Experienced designer with practical knowledge of, and experience in using, design-led approaches across different sector contexts (public and private sectors, and social innovation).
  • Experience of product and service design.
  • Experience in building strong partnerships, working within partner settings to prototype/design interventions.
  • Extensive and proven understanding of interdisciplinary working across the social sciences, behavioural and data science, arts and culture, and design.
  • Strong facilitation and presentation skills.
  • Excellent leadership skills in managing and motivating teams – including staff outside your direct team, associates, and external stakeholders.
  • Excellent organisational abilities, and experience of managing competing priorities and a busy workload.


  • Understanding of the innovation system in one or more of Nesta’s three mission areas.

Other useful information

Salary: £70,306 plus array of benefits, including health cash plans, dental insurance, the ability to buy and sell annual leave, eye care vouchers and more