Appointment of the Director of Finance, SOAS University of London


Welcome from the Director, Baroness Valerie Amos

Thank you for your interest in the role of Director of Finance at SOAS University of London. SOAS continues to make a positive impact throughout the world, through excellent research and teaching, and through our profound engagement with Asia, Africa and the Near and Middle East.

SOAS is defined by its people and their ideas. They are our most precious resource. We are known around the world for our deep knowledge of the languages, cultures and histories of the regions in which we work, whether our research is in the humanities or the social sciences. Our researchers engage with original sources in archives and in the field, and our students are taught to do so too. As a result, our expertise is in demand, from government, international organisations, businesses and the media. In a fast-changing world, there has never been a more relevant time to join SOAS.

We are now seeking to appoint a Director of Finance who will be responsible for the development and delivery of a financial strategy that ensures the sustainability of the School and, as a member of the Professional Services Leadership team, will contribute to our strategic planning and decision-making.

We expect candidates to bring wide-ranging financial skills and experience, able to lead our financial strategy and deliver operational effectiveness and efficiency across both our finance and procurement teams. With the ability to build high performing teams and a commitment to the School’s mission and the promotion of a diverse and inclusive working environment, the Director of Finance will be a significant contributor to the future success of the School.  Success at SOAS also requires our leaders to be uncompromising in support of our values and brave as we position our institution at the forefront of some the world’s most complex and challenging issues.

At SOAS we celebrate diversity and promote equality and inclusion amongst our staff and students. As such, we welcome applications from all, regardless of personal characteristics or background. We particularly welcome applications from Women and Black and Minority Ethnic candidates as they are under-represented within SOAS at senior level.

We look forward to hearing from you

Baroness Valerie Amos 

About SOAS

SOAS is a special place – where language study, disciplinary focus and regional expertise come together to provide important insights into the world’s past, present and future.

We have one of the most international student bodies of any university in the world, and a diverse academic staff base. With around half of our students engaged in language study either at beginner, intermediate or advanced level, we are also a truly multilingual as well as multicultural community.

SOAS is home to over 5,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students who study on campus, together with around 3,000 others who are registered for one of our distance learning programmes. Our academic base comprises around 350 teaching and research staff, organised into 11 disciplinary departments and six regional centres and institutes. SOAS scholars grapple with pressing issues such as democracy, development, human rights, identity, legal systems, poverty, religion and social change.

Opened as the School of Oriental Studies in the City of London in 1916, we have grown into a multi-disciplinary institution based in the heart of Bloomsbury, where critical scholarship and alternative perspectives on regional and global issues flourish.

Finance at SOAS

The Director of Finance has responsibility for both long term strategic financial planning and the operational financial management and leadership of the School.

A member of the Professional Services Leadership team, the Director of Finance reports to the Paula Sanderson, Registrar and Secretary (Chief Operating Officer) and has responsibility for the following functions:

  • Budget-setting and management accounting
  • Financial reporting, statutory and regulatory returns
  • Financial operations including fee collection and accounts payable
  • Procurement

You can read more about the Finance and procurement function here.

Our most recent financial statements can be accessed here.

The 2017-18 statement describes what has been a challenging set of circumstances for SOAS over recent years and, as for other Higher Education institutions, the financial future is uncertain and needs careful and expert management.  SOAS has already made significant changes to support our long-term financial sustainability, including through the reorganisation and modernisation of Professional Services, providing a strong base from which to move forward. Across the School, we are taking a range of measures, including protecting the quality of our undergraduate intake, expanding our portfolio of distance learning programmes and developing our international partnerships.  We are also working on decolonising our curriculum and reducing the BAME attainment gap.

Over the next few years our new Director of Finance will play the leading role in ensuring that SOAS manages its financial position effectively while furthering the mission of the School and delivering an excellent student experience.  As such, the presents an exciting opportunity to make a significant contribution to the future success of SOAS.

The role

Director of Finance

Job Title: Director of Finance
Department: Finance
Grade: Grade 10 (£85k-£90K)
Accountable to: Registrar and Secretary (Chief Operating Officer)
Responsible for: Head of Finance Operations, Head of Finance Business Partnering, Senior Financial Accountant, Procurement Manager and their teams

Job summary

  • To develop and deliver a Financial Strategy that ensures the short and long-term financial sustainability of the School.
  • To lead and manage the finance function to meet the needs of the School and contributing to wider strategic decisions as a member of the Professional Services Leadership team.
  • Responsible for the finance and procurement functions including overseeing effective financial planning, timely financial reporting and efficient day to day financial operations and processes.
  • To ensure that School complies with its statutory and regulatory financial requirements.

Key tasks

  1. Provide leadership and management of the School’s Finance and Procurement functions.
  2. Contribute to the leadership of the School, as a member of the Professional Services Leadership team, ensuring that the School is able to deliver on its strategic plans and is able to respond to internal and external opportunities and threats.
  3. Monitor and control the School’s financial operations and budget setting processes.
  4. Ensure the timely and accurate production of financial statements, management information and analysis in line with external and internal requirements.
  5. Monitor internal and external developments within the UK Higher Education sector and identify the financial impact on the School.
  6. To work with the School’s external professional advisers and suppliers – auditors, bankers, lawyers etc. to obtain best advice, and support and engagement.
  7. To development and ensure adherence to, controls, systems, procedures and knowledge within the School to increase efficiency and to comply with the School’s financial regulations.
  8. To play a leading role in developing new systems and procedures across the School with the aim of increasing effectiveness and contribution towards the income generating potential of individual departments.
  9. To actively promote the continuing development of financial awareness throughout the School.
  10. To support the preparation of contracts and business cases from a commercial and financial perspective, working with other stakeholders (e.g. legal, risk, property, tax) to ensure profit optimisation and risk mitigation.
  11. Commit to a learning culture and actively participate in on-going continuous professional development as required.
  12. Undertake any reasonable additional duties that might be required as a senior leader within the School.



  • CCAB qualified or equivalent qualification.
  • Demonstrable commitment to continuous professional development since qualification.

Specialist skills, knowledge and experience

  • Successful senior management of the finance function within a complex organisation.
  • Management and professional leadership of a team of finance staff, with the ability to promote a culture of high performance and continuous improvement.
  • Ability to manage financial and budget planning in a changing and uncertain environment.
  • Ability to extract and analyse complex financial information for reporting and decision-making purposes.
  • Specification and management of the development of information systems to support financial functions.


  • Ability to lead and effect change at a senior level, influencing the School’s Executive Board and Trustees to improve the effective use of resources; able to think strategically while still delivering operational effectiveness.
  • Highly developed people management skills, the proven ability to lead, motivate and develop staff and to facilitate collaborative working within and across teams.
  • Excellent presentation and communication skills with the ability to prepare concise and accurate reports.
  • Highly self- motivated, results orientated, with the ability to prioritise own workload, and that of others to achieve relevant deadlines and to manage conflicting demands.
  • High standards of interpersonal communication skills, with a willingness to share ideas and ability to influence others.
  • Demonstrable commitment to the School’s mission and the promotion of a diverse and inclusive working environment.

Terms of appointment

The post is offered on a full time, permanent basis. The salary will be negotiated with the successful candidate. In addition, the Director of Finance will be entitled to the following terms and conditions:

  • 30 days holiday plus bank holidays and School closure days, pro rata for part time staff
  • Pension scheme with generous employer contribution
  • Various loan schemes including season ticket loan, IT equipment loan
  • Cycle to Work Scheme
  • Enhanced Maternity, Paternity and Adoption Pay provisions and emergency caring payments

How to apply

Anderson Quigley is acting as an advisor to the School, an executive search process is being carried out by Anderson Quigley in addition to the public advertisement.

Should you wish to discuss the role in strict confidence, please contact Elliott Rae on +44 (0)7584 078 534 or Carolyn Coates on +44 (0)7825 871 944.

The closing date for applications is noon on Monday 2nd September 2019.

Applications should consist of:

  • A full CV.
  • A covering letter (maximum of three pages) setting out your interest in the role and details of how you match the criteria outlined in the person specification.
  • Please include your current salary details and the names and email addresses of two referees in either your CV or cover letter. Referees will not be approached until the final stages and not without prior permission from candidates.
  • Please use the following link to complete an Equal Opportunity Monitoring Form.

Completed applications should be uploaded at using the reference AQ595.


Closing date: Noon on Monday 2nd September 2019
Preliminary interviews with AQ: Mid-September 2019
Shortlist: Late September 2019
Final Panel interviews: End September/early October 2019 tbc