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British Council

Head of Human Resources

About the British Council in Sub-Saharan Africa

With 1.75 billion – one in five of the world’s population – set to live in the region by 2050 and a GDP that is forecast to grow by seven per cent over the next two decades – faster than China – the future for Sub-Saharan Africa is looking more positive than ever. The African demographic is young, aspiring and not tied to the past. Within 15 years it will represent 25% of global under-25s. However, 25% of them will face unemployment. 

Across the region, key programme areas are in English, Education and Society. English is the British Council’s biggest priority area with opportunities for significant growth in English for education systems. The organisation’s face to face teaching continues to grow in its 6 teaching centres. The British Council also aims to reach more through its mobile and digital technology tools.  

The British Council’s statement of ambition is “To connect 200 million young Africans to the UK and provide them with life changing opportunities, to secure a safe and prosperous future for both Africa and the UK”.

A growing demographic of young people looking for qualification for jobs in a competitive market provides opportunities to grow the examinations business; and in turn to market the UK Higher Education & Skills sector in priority markets such as Nigeria and South Africa.

The British Council also has expanding programmes in the Arts – where the challenges are to deliver scale and impact, but with a lessening grant. Again, partnership funding will be key to allowing the organisation to achieve its aims in these areas.

Purpose of Job

Working with the Regional Director and the leadership team, develop and deliver the HR strategy for the region to  enable and support the achievement of the region’s business strategies and the corporate plan. Work with the Heads of HR – SBUs and the wider HR Leadership Team to implement those strategies.

Context and Environment:

The global HR team is undergoing a significant restructure to position it more effectively to support the rapidly changing needs of the British Council.  The Head of HR SSA is accountable for developing the people agenda for the region in support of regional business strategies.  The Head of HR SSA leads a team of resources who will focus on areas such as talent, resourcing and reward.

The Head of HR SSA will also have access to 2 additional pools of shared resource to be used on an as required basis.  Both pools are held and managed within the Organisation Development Centre of Expertise:

  • A shared HR Analyst pool with responsibility for analysing regional people data, monitoring trends and providing key metrics.
  • An HR Consultant Pool with responsibility for providing project support and HR delivery expertise.

Successful delivery will require pro-active engagement and alignment with Regional Business Leads and support functions, HR functional leaders in the Centre of Expertise, HRLT and SBU HR leads.

The role reports into the Regional Director with a dotted reporting line to the Head of HR, Global Network.

Accountabilities, responsibilities and main duties:

  • As a member of the British Council Global HR Leadership Team, contribute to the development of the HR strategy, sharing expertise and learning and ensuring an integrated approach to developing strong people leadership and management across the organisation.
  • Develop the HR strategy and direction for the region to support delivery of business strategies and the corporate plan.
  • Work with the Regional Leadership Teams and HR Centres of Expertise to translate and implement people strategies in the key areas of talent, resourcing, reward, employee engagement and organisation development, to reinforce the culture required to drive a successful organisation.
  • Provide an assurance role in ensuring consistency across the region in the implementation of HR strategies that are integrated, fair and equitable and aligned to best practice.  Proactively drive engagement with the Heads of HR – SBUs to facilitate a co-ordinated approach to implementation across the region.
  • Develop the strategic workforce plan for the region, defining the capability and skills required to deliver a cost effective and sustainable organisation within the region with the capability and capacity to deliver the agreed business outcomes.   
  • Consult with, and provide advice and guidance to the Regional Leadership Team in all people matters to:
    • Support organisation change planned within the Region and ensure that the people dimensions are well planned, aligned with the policies and values of the British Council and implemented effectively.
    • Build the expert capability and capacity within the organisation to deliver the strategic intent of the region.
    • Develop talent and succession plans and ensure that Line Managers are equipped to manage, monitor and reward performance effectively.
  • Provide expert support and advice in areas of dispute and handle any complex, escalated case work matters, liaising with the Centre of Expertise Employee Relations Team where necessary.
  • Provide insightful analysis, assurance and management reporting on regional people matters to inform day to day management priorities and to underpin future strategy development around people, change and organisation.
  • Liaise and work with the Head of HR Global Network and the HR Centres of Expertise and provide personal coaching and support to enable development and management of the most senior population within the region.
  • Lead and manage the effective allocation and management of the regional HR budget.
  • Lead, inspire and manage the regional HR team to develop a high performing function which builds capability in the line, shares learning and proactively brings best practice approaches to the British Council. 
  • Ensure all HR activities in the region are underpinned by the British Council values and promote equal opportunities and diversity within the organisation.

Relationships (key stakeholders)

  • Regional Director
  • HR Director
  • The Regional HR Team
  • Region and Country Leadership teams
  • SBU Leadership teams
  • HR Leadership Team, including Centres of Expertise, Global Operations and Head of HR Network
  • Change programmes
  • External partner organisations

Other important requirements

  • The role is located in the SSA region and will require extensive travel within the region.
  • Post holder must have the right to visit all countries in the region.
  • Post holder must have the right to work in the country where the role will be based.
  • Post holder will be required to undertake National Security Vetting check. 

Person Specification


  • Creating shared purpose (most demanding)
  • Connecting with others (most demanding)
  • Working together (most demanding)
  • Making it happen (most demanding)

Knowledge and Skills:

  • Development and implementation of HR strategies
  • Consultancy skills
  • Talent management in an international environment
  • Employee relations and case management
  • Strong analytical and strategic thinking skills
  • Senior stakeholder management and influencing skills
  • Change leadership and management
  • Team leadership and management
  • Commercial acumen and business understanding
  • Coaching and facilitating
  • Exceptional communication and engagement skills
  • In depth knowledge of HR trends and practices
  • Knowledge of the Region
  • Strategic workforce planning
  • Local employment law


  • Senior HR experience in a commercial, matrix and international environment.
  • Management of international mobility.
  • Building effective relationships with senior business leadership teams.
  • Managing, motivating and coaching a senior team of HR professionals.
  • Managing across cross cultural boundaries.
  • Managing a range of complex internal and external stakeholders.
  • Region-specific experience.


  • MBA or equivalent
  • CIPD (preferred) relevant professional HR qualification from a recognised awarding institution