Director of Operations

The South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA) is an independent, non-governmental, development and foreign policy think tank, focusing on South Africa’s and Africa’s international relations. Its goal is to contribute to the achievement of a well-governed, peaceful, economically sustainable, and globally engaged Africa. It has been consistently ranked among the top think tanks in Africa.

The role

SAIIA is seeking to appoint a Director of Operations. The successful candidate will report to the Chief Executive and be part of the executive team of the Institute. This critical role is wide-ranging, requiring a high-level of general management experience covering operational planning and management (Finance, IT, Database), maintaining the organizations’ legislative compliance, risk management, human resources management, as well as strategic planning and implementation. The Director of Operations takes the lead in reporting to the Finance Committee and participates in meetings of SAIIA’s Executive Committee, a subcommittee of the National Council. This position acts as the overall Governance Officer of the Institute.

Key roles and responsibilities

  • Business sustainability: Provides high-level direction on the Institute’s business model to ensure financial sustainability. Is a key player in realising the Institute’s growth potential and defining economic strategy.
  • Operational planning and management: Oversee the financial management function, ensuring high-quality reports are submitted and presented to the executive team and governance structures, steers the annual financial audit process in conjunction with the Head of Finance and ensures that appropriate systems and controls are in place to efficiently manage the Institute’s resources.
  • Risk Management: Oversees the risk management policy, including the development and implementation of the risk register and manages the Internal Audit function in conjunction with the appointed service provider and the executive team.
  • Contracts management and compliance with legislation: Negotiates and manages legal contracts needed to support the Institute, ensures compliance with all relevant legislation and that donor due diligence requirements are met.
  • Human resource management: Ensures compliance with all relevant legislation and internal policies, updates existing policies and develops new policies as required, oversees HR matters, including performance management, recruitment, salary benchmarking and well-being policies.

Experience and skills

  • Minimum Postgraduate/MBA/financial qualification required
  • Professional qualification (e.g. Internal audit, financial, legal) preferred
  • At least 10 years’ experience in operations (finance, IT and database), governance and risk, strategy implementation and human resource management
  • Experience and understanding of the non-profit sector and working knowledge of the think tank sector strongly preferred
  • Resourceful problem-solving, analytical and strong leadership skills
  • Excellent communication and writing skills
  • Exemplary people management and inter-personal skills
  • Strong work ethic, ability to prioritise and multi-task
  • Adaptive and flexible to situational demands
  • Ethical behaviour, leads by example
  • Commitment/personal accountability
  • Attention to detail


Please email [email protected]