ESSA Job offer: Head of Research & Insight

Job type: Initially one-year fixed contract, from June 2020
Location: London, UK or Accra, Ghana (other countries in sub-Saharan Africa considered)
Salary: Competitive
Hours of work: Full time
Travel: 30 - 50%
Reporting to: CEO
Direct reports: Digital and Data Manager; Evidence, Impact and Learning Manager; Research Associate

Job details

Please note the deadline for this role has been extended from 30th March to 6th April, and the first round interviews will now be held during the first week of May.

ESSA - Education Sub Saharan Africa is a charity established in May 2016. Our vision is to transform education: increasing employment for young people in sub-Saharan Africa.

We bring together a network of young people, educators and decision-makers. Together we use evidence to improve the tertiary education system, equipping millions of young people in sub-Saharan Africa with the skills for work.

Our team is small but driven, working remotely in sub-Saharan Africa and Europe. 

The Head of Research and Insight is a critical role for the success of ESSA’s mission, ensuring that the right evidence is being used to increase the impact of tertiary education for young people.

The successful applicant will lead the creation and management of ESSA’s digital and non-digital knowledge resources on tertiary education in sub-Saharan Africa, with an emphasis on the link of tertiary education and the labour-markets.  They will set and implement the strategy for building a knowledge hub to support investment and decision making across the continent. The Head of Research will manage a small team to provide research support and guidance across ESSA programmes.

Main Responsibilities

  • Oversee the quality and delivery of ESSA’s research products, the delivery of a digital platform and tools to communicate these products, the use of evidence in our work and tracking to understand and learn from our own impact.

  • Lead a small team to deliver on ESSA’s research goals including a Digital Data Manager (this role also works in collaboration with the Communications Manager, who sits outside of the research team) and an Evidence, Impact and Evaluation Manager.

  • Build partnerships and collaborations with local partners to increase use of evidence and data.

  • Lead on the delivery of selected, research-focused work strands.

  • Shape how ESSA can be most effective in closing the gap between research and policy/practice of tertiary education.

  • Collaborate with national governments and other partners to leverage their funding for both the development and integration of knowledge (public goods) into national tertiary education systems.

  • Work with the ESSA team to capitalize on the knowledge ESSA has already generated and oversee our approach to knowledge management.

  • Build ESSA’s network of research institutions and researchers, in Africa and beyond.

Person Specification


  • Entrepreneurial in approach, with the ability to thrive in an internationally dispersed team

  • A track record of building partnerships with policy-makers, funders and NGOs.

  • A track record of developing and implementing strategy.

  • Ability to translate complex research for a non-specialist audience.

  • Experience implementing and managing research.

  • Knowledge of research in the field of education and passionate about the role of education in development.

  • Experience of building and managing teams.

  • Experience of generating and using evidence in sub-Saharan Africa.

  • Educated to Masters level in a relevant discipline.

  • Experience of budget preparation and oversight.

  • Fluent written and spoken English.

  •  Most importantly as a representative of ESSA, the person should be a team player with a pleasant disposition and hands-on, the ability to strike conversations and be respectful of diversities. You should be independent, creative, sincere and possess a powerful drive to pursue responsible data management systems.


  • French speaking

  • Resident in sub-Saharan Africa.

  • Educated to PhD level in a relevant discipline.

  • Experience working with large employers of young people in sub-Saharan Africa.

  • Familiarity with digital platforms

  • Knowledge of research in the field of tertiary education.



This position is on a one-year fixed contract with the option to be renewed. The contract of employment will be based on the requirements of Section 1 of the Employment Rights Act 1996. There will be a probationary period of three months.

Reporting and communication lines

The position reports to the Head of Research, working collaboratively with the entire ESSA team.

Where is the workplace?

ESSA currently operates from a collaborative working space in London. In other locations, staff members work from home, from other collaborative working spaces, or are hosted by a partnering institution. Communication relies on telephone, video conferencing and e-mail, supplemented by physical meetings as required.

ESSA will provide all essential devices such as a laptop. Depending on the personal situation of the person appointed there is the option to use their own devices, with reimbursement of expenditure. ESSA will reimburse all reasonable expenses on a pre-agreed basis. Details will be agreed on appointment.

Start date

June 2020.

Recruitment process

Candidates will be informed if their interest is being progressed. 

If you are interested in this opportunity, please submit a cover letter explaining your suitability for the role along with a CV by 9 am GMT on 6th April 2020 to:

First round interviews will be held weeks commencing May 4th.

You can also download a PDF of the job description here:

Head of Research & Insight Job Description