Operations Director

Location: London
Closing date: 13 April

The Challenge Network (TCN) is looking to appoint a successor to the current Operations Director from autumn 2012 when he takes up another internal role. The Operations Director will be a member of the Senior Leadership Team and report to the Chief Executive. The role is based in London but with significant travel (up to 2 days per week on average) to offices in Birmingham and Manchester.

Please submit applications via a one page document setting out why you are interested in and
suited for the role, plus your CV, by 5pm on Friday April 13th. There will be an initial and then final round of interviews involving members of the Senior Leadership Team and trustees.

Context for the Role

The Challenge Network is one of the UK’s fastest growing charities and the largest provider of the government’s National Citizen Service programme. Our mission is to connect and inspire people to strengthen their communities.

In 2012, The Challenge will engage over 10,000 young people in a residential and community based programme over 2 months across Greater London, Surrey, West Midlands, Greater Manchester and Lancashire. In addition, The Challenge Society programme for all graduates of The Challenge and their friends will have the potential to reach c15,000 young people by the end of 2012. Over 70 permanent staff, 1500 summer and TCS staff and hundreds of volunteers will be involved in the delivery of these programmes this year, with an operating budget of c£12m.

We expect further growth in these programmes of c30% p.a., in 2013 & 2014. Over time additional programmes and services will be developed which further TCN’s mission and build on our strengths and networks.

The Operations Director is responsible for ensuring all these programmes are delivered safely, to a high standard of quality and within budget. They ensure our work delivers lasting impact within the community.

Specific Responsibilities

– Oversee programme staff attraction, selection, recruitment, training, contracting and management processes.

– Build strong local and national partnerships: Ensure high quality, mutually beneficial partnerships with relevant national and local organisations in key sectors such as environmental charities, young people charities, older generation charities, local authority advisory groups or networks, faith groups, businesses.

– Ensure high quality procurement (including outdoor adventure residential programmes, local residential accommodation, transport, food, daytime venues, equipment). Ensure quality, capacity and value for money.

– Ensure risk assessment, health, safety and legal compliance: Ensure best in field emergency processes and reporting with continued reduction in reporting bureaucracy. Liaison with police and other relevant agencies.

– Design and deliver access policy and processes: Ensuring we can deliver high quality experiences for all special needs groups.

– Provide quality assurance: Manage and assess the quality of programme delivery and identify refinements to curricula, systems and partnerships.

– Co-lead innovation: Identify areas for innovation of The Challenge and The Challenge Society and work collaboratively with Strategy & Development team to ensure clear plan to test and assess innovations.

-Build high-performing teams: Build highly-functioning teams of permanent staff. Ensure each team is well-bonded and acting in a real and professional manner. Provide guidance and coaching to managers to ensure teams perform at very high levels.

-Develop permanent staff: Invest in personal development time with direct reports. Oversee ap process and ensure all staff fully aware of their performance and clear on next steps. Provide or source necessary coaching or mentoring.

-Provide thought-leadership to the sector through writing in journals, speaking at conferences and building influential relationships.


The role requires a rare combination of strengths in people management and coaching, logistics, strategic planning, relationship building, residential youth work and practical judgement. This is a fantastic opportunity to lead an entrepreneurial and innovative team, grow in a dynamic and supportive environment and contribute to an exciting programme for social change.

We are looking for an exceptional individual with the following qualities:

Essential skills and experience

Project Management and Logistics: Success in managing complex delivery of projects on time including managing large budgets. Experience working at a senior level in operational role.

People Management: Experience managing and motivating large teams of people in challenging environments (e.g., residential youth programmes, fast-paced workplace). Experience coaching and developing staff over longer period of time.

Strategic Leadership: Experience setting strategy and direction, dividing up responsibilities to delivery this strategy and monitoring quality and targets during delivery.

Youth work Experience: Experience working with groups of young people (in voluntary or paid capacity). Good judgement on how to manage difficult behavioural situations. Ideally as Team Leader or Programme Manager with The Challenge Programme or similar roles with other organisations.

Community work: Demonstrated track record of commitment to stronger communities.

Stakeholder relationships: Proven track record of ability to successfully influence a wider range of internal and external stakeholders through building highly effective relationships.

Communication skills: Outstanding written and verbal communication skills.

Problem-solving: Combination of a creative and logical thinking and problem solving skills.

To apply

Please apply to Craig Morley by 5pm on Friday 13th April at [email protected].

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