Jul 132020

Non-Executive Director (Lead) - Centre for Environment Fisheries and Aquaculture Science

Body: Centre for Environment Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas - Executive Agency of Defra)
Appointing Department: Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs
Sector: Environment, Food & Rural Affairs
Location: Lowestoft
Skills required: Audit and Risk, Business / Commercial, Change Management, International Experience, Major Projects, Transformation
Number of Vacancies: 1
Remuneration: Remuneration for NEDs will be £10,000 per annum based on a time input of approximately 20 days per year.
Time Requirements: Appointments follow civil service protocol and are for up to six years on a biannual renewable contract. Details of a standard NED contract are available on request.
Closed for Applications: 31/07/2020 at 12:00

Vacancy Description

Centre for Environment Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) has a clear purpose as the government’s foremost source of evidence, applied science and impartial expert advice for marine and closely related environments. The Non-Executive Director (Lead) will assume chairing duties of board meetings and act as a mentor to other Non-Executive Directors as the lead NED.

In delivering against this purpose, the Agency supports government decision making, provides long term assurance and responds to EU/ UK legislation and obligations. EU exit is likely to place a greater demand on these requirements. With many competing demands, decision making is complex, often international in dimension, and relies on the timely, integrated evidence and advice that the Agency provides as a recognised leader in marine and aquatic science. Government funding reinforces impartiality, maintains an emergency response capability, and supports the sustainability of specialised capability.

Cefas’ purpose is founded on its ability to innovate and to integrate a uniquely comprehensive national science capability. It is enabled by the excellence of its science, technology and people; by effective collaboration and partnerships; and by applying business-like disciplines to ensure on-going competitiveness. The Agency has been established for over 100 years, with a funding exceeding £50m and over 500 people – primarily in Lowestoft and Weymouth.

Supporting core Defra through the provision of impartial science and advice through a strong, open and strategic relationship is, and will continue to be, a critical part of Cefas’ activities. The Agency also enhances its capability, relationships and influence through wider application of its skills and knowledge to other funding partners. Diversification of funding streams supports the resilience of the Agency by enabling sustained self-investment in its capabilities and facilities. This type of competed work currently represents over a third of Cefas’ funding. Delivery of applied science beyond core Defra customers will continue to be necessary in the short to medium- term.

Further details are available in our Annual Report and Accounts, available on our web site www.cefas.defra.co.uk

Strategic context

EU legislation (for the time being) and implementation of the UK’s Marine (and Coastal Access) Act are driving action across the sectors in which we operate. We see an increasing focus on integrated science to support ecosystem approaches, a growing need for monitoring and data management, risk-based assessments and consideration of socio-economic aspects in the marine domain. The associated breadth and the on-going need to bridge policy/delivery/science interfaces plays to our strengths and creates a demand for our services.

By contrast with this growing demand, a volatile fiscal climate creates challenge. Economic pressures on the public sector affect our main source of income, drive a need for further operational efficiency, and bring both risk and opportunity.

The strategy that Cefas has pursued successfully over recent years prepares us well for the challenges ahead. Key themes include:

  • Strengthening relationships with the Defra Group, supported by strategic agreements.
  • Sustaining excellence of our outputs and impacts through investment in innovation, science and associated capabilities.
  • Delivering operational efficiencies, which includes increasing funding from non-Defra sources.
  • Investing in our people to attract, develop and enthuse exceptional talent, and to achieve a long-lasting cultural change, with fully engaged staff and greater partner focus at all levels.

These themes remain at the heart of our strategy to ensure that Cefas remains resilient in a tough economic climate and, as an integral part of delivering the UK government’s sustainability and marine agendas (both at home and overseas), making a difference for society. Our business plan can be found through this link.


The Cefas Management Board (CMB) comprises the Chief Executive, relevant executive directors and four Non-Executive Advisory Directors (NEDs). The lead NED chairs CMB meetings. The Board provides strategic leadership for the Agency, within a framework of prudent and effective controls that enables risk to be assessed and managed. It brings together an appropriate split of Executives and Non-Executives to provide the balance of skills, experience, independence and knowledge of Cefas to enable CMB to discharge its duties and responsibilities and ensure effective governance of the Agency.


Cefas’ Non-Executive advisory Directors (NEDs) advise and challenge the Board and Chief Executive, bringing an objectivity and independence of view to the CMB’s discussions. They help provide CMB with effective leadership in relation to the Agency’s strategy, performance, and risk and people management. In particular, NEDs play a key role in encouraging an ambitious scientific and technical strategy for the organisation and ensuring high standards of probity and corporate governance through their role on CMB’s external committees. In addition to their business-wide perspective, NEDs may be asked to bring their expertise and experience to bear on specific aspects of Cefas strategy and operations.

NEDs are expected to engage with key external stakeholders in order to understand the context within which the Agency operates and to support its objectives.

NEDs need to deliver a role of critical support to the executive directors, offering challenge, critique and advice, with tact and diplomacy. This includes elements of mentoring and coaching. Effectiveness of CMB depends upon a spirit of mutual respect and partnership within the Board being established and a good “chemistry” across the team. Additionally, diversity in perspective and challenge is essential which requires an appropriate balance of skills, experience and personalities between the Executive and Non-Executive members. In short, Cefas places as much emphasis on behaviours, attributes and relationships as it does in structures and processes.

Person Specification

Relevant Experience

We expect exceptional experience and knowledge, together with proven success of being able to influence strategic management debates at Board Level (or equivalent) and decisions on a breadth of corporate issues.

Alongside externally recognised credentials, skills and experience should ideally include:

  • Relevant sectoral experience, at UK government and/or intergovernmental level with beneficial contacts and personal networks
  • Leadership of a scientific organisation or university spin out with experience of sustained success in funding products/services
  • International experience, preferably in the Marine/ Environmental sector
  • A good understanding of scientific excellence and research council/ academic sectors
  • Delivery of cultural change, particularly the ability to drive innovation and entrepreneurialism in comparable organisations
  • The ability to act as an ambassador for Cefas

Personal Attributes

  • Integrity, probity and high ethical standards, with a comprehensive understanding of the principles of governance and systems of control, and how to apply them appropriately
  • An ability to maintain a sense of perspective and to pick out critical issues, and to question intelligently, debate constructively, challenge rigorously and decide dispassionately
  • Independence of mind and sound judgement, together with the ability to provide impartial, objective and pragmatic advice
  • Enough strength of character to seek and obtain full and satisfactory answers within the environment of the Board
  • Effective communication and relationship building skills, including the ability to negotiate, influence, challenge and listen sensitively to the views of others
  • An ability to engender trust and confidence, and to adopt a coaching style particularly with the Chief Executive, Executive Directors and other senior managers in Cefas
  • A commitment to the 7 principles of public life, together with the willingness and availability to devote the necessary time to understand the business dynamics and context.

Seven Principles of Public Life

Selflessness: Holders of public office should take decisions solely in terms of the public interest. They should not do so in order to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves, their family, or their friends.

Integrity: Holders of public office should not place themselves under any financial or other obligation to outside individuals or organisations that might influence them in the performance of their official duties.

Objectivity: In carrying out public business, including making public appointments, awarding contracts, or recommending individuals for rewards and benefits, holders of public office should make choices on merit.

Accountability: Holders of public office are accountable for their decisions and actions to the public and must submit themselves to whatever scrutiny is appropriate to their office.

Openness: Holders of public office should be as open as possible about all the decisions and actions that they take. They should give reasons for their decisions and restrict information only when the wider public interest clearly demands.

Honesty: Holders of public office have a duty to declare any private interests relating to their public duties and to take steps to resolve any conflicts arising in a way that protects the public interest.

Leadership: Holders of public office should promote and support these principles by leadership and example.

Additional Information

Additional paid input is available on a pro rata basis if this proves necessary. Reasonable expenses linked to delivering this role are paid. NED appointments are not pensionable.

How to Apply

All candidates are requested to send:

  • a cover letter highlighting why they are interested in the post
  • an up to date CV, including any other current roles and details of referees
  • a concise note providing evidence/examples of how they meet the experience and personal attributes identified in the Person Specification above

The completed application should be returned to Karin Rundle, Director of HR (Corporate Services) Cefas Laboratory, Pakefield Road, Lowestoft, Suffolk, NR33 0HT by email to Karin.rundle@cefas.co.uk.

Post cannot be collected at the current time.

  • References will be taken up prior to appointment.

Applications will be considered by a combination of executive and non-executive members of the Cefas Management Board. Short-listing will determine which candidates best demonstrate that they have the specified qualities and experience, who will then be invited for interview. It is therefore essential for your application to include full but concise information/evidence relevant to the appointment based on the personal attributes and experience outlined above. Interviews will take place in London.

This will include both a formal interview and opportunity to meet other members of the Cefas Management Board.

Equality and Diversity

These appointments will be governed by the principle of public appointment based on merit with independent assessment and transparency of process. Candidates may come from a wide range of backgrounds although the successful candidates will need to have experience as outlined above. The UK Government is committed to improving the diversity of its public bodies and welcome applications irrespective of race, ethnic or national origin, sex, marital status, disability, sexual orientation, religion, religious beliefs or similar philosophical belief, age, gender re-assignment or community background.

All candidates are required to complete the following forms:

  • Monitoring form (Equality and Diversity Questionnaire)

Candidates should submit their CV with education, professional qualifications and employment history and the names and contact details for two referees, together with their statement of suitability.

The statement of suitability should give evidence of the strength and depth of your ability to meet the essential criteria for this role. Please provide specific examples to demonstrate how you meet each of the criteria (max two pages please).

Your CV and statement should be returned by 31st July 2020


This post is NOT regulated by The Commissioner for Public Appointments.

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