Chief Executive Officer
The position will be a permanent appointment and will be based in Cape Town.
Our Client is an influential non-profit organisation in the early grade reading and mathematics space in South Africa. The aim of the organisation was, and still is, to ensure that all children in South African learn to read for meaning and calculate with confidence by age 10 by 2030. The organization has grown rapidly from 5 employees in 2017 to over 50 employees in 2021.
The Company has a well-established, explicit and measurable organisational goal that is commonly referred to internally as “the 2030 goal.” In its simplest form this is as follows: “By 2030 all children in South Africa will learn to read for meaning and calculate with confidence by age 10.” This goal is non-negotiable and part of the DNA and raison d'etre of the organisation. While the goal is not up for debate, the means of reaching this goal are entirely flexible. In other words, we are stumbling forwards towards this goal, learning what works, how well it works, and in what contexts and constantly iterating based on our best collective thinking and the best evidence emerging in South Africa and internationally
The CEO should:
- Have a deep-seated vocation in the early reading and early mathematics space with an enduring commitment to ensuring all children learn to read and do mathematics in the first three years of school.
- Be strategic, forward-thinking, and willing to take risks.
- Be flexible, adaptable, and comfortable with uncertainty. Interventions and circumstances change (and change again) at short notice and require the leadership team to respond appropriately. As a result teams and job descriptions morph and adapt frequently. The concept of “not my job” is foreign to the Company. People typically step in to fill short term vacuums but the leadership team (and the CEO) are required to constantly recalibrate the team (hiring more people, moving people around, changing job descriptions, promoting etc.). The CEO is expected to manage this changing scene in a coherent way.
- Be familiar with a shared services environment. Finance, Legal and HR are performed by the founding funder of the Company
- Be confident in their abilities to understand and articulate the Company’s interventions and goals both internally and externally.
- Understand the education-related philanthropic ecosystem of South Africa - what funders look for, what funders require in terms of reporting and sign-off.
- Able to write, speak and present well.
- Be a relational leader and willing to work collaboratively, learning from and seeking advice from the ExCo and ManCo (especially in the first year) and the Board of Directors.
- Have strong interpersonal skills with high EQ, able to read between the lines, have difficult conversations, motivate and inspire people, sense and head off relational conflict at an early stage.
- Align with the organisational culture.
- Have a strong understanding of the early grade reading and early grade mathematics space. This includes understanding who the main ‘players’ are, what their motivations and concerns are, what are the key risks in the sector, what are the early warning signs of problems to come, what are the main opportunities presenting themselves in the coming years, and what the main unknowns are.
- Have a good understanding of how the DBE works, its directorates and role-players, and how it interfaces with provincial departments of education.
- Have a clear understanding of and be able to articulate concepts in the early grade reading and mathematics space such as scalability, cost effectiveness, replicability, quantitative and qualitative evaluation.
- Be able to inspire both the Company’s team and the broader South African community to achieve the 2030 goal.
- Understand the benefits and limitations of quantitative and qualitative evaluations, and how quantitative and qualitative evidence might feed into the 2030 goal.
- Understand key points of contention regarding literacy and numeracy in the Foundation Phase in South Africa (for example, the Reading Wars,scripted lesson plans contested notions of
- evidence etc.)
- Understand how early reading and mathematics develop within the child between Grade R and Grade 3.
- Understand the ‘main’ reading and mathematics interventions in South Africa since the Gauteng Primary Literacy and Mathematics Strategy (GPLMS) and how the thinking has shifted following the outcomes of these interventions
- Be able to identify with the Company’s Vision, Mission and Ethos.
- Be a visionary leader, knowing where to take the organisation next, being able to create a clear and compelling picture of the best future for the organisation.
- Be a relational leader who brings out the best in the team.
- Have a proven track record of leadership within the education and development sector.
- Hold yourself and others to the highest standards of excellence and accountability.
- Be able to effectively lead an Executive team.
- Be able to work effectively with the Board of Directors.
- Be a gifted strategist, bringing clarity across the organisation by defining and measuring clear objectives.
Minimum Postgraduate qualification
- Minimum 4 years senior leadership experience within a fast growing agile organisation
- Experience in developing and implementing strategy
- Experience in reading organisational change
- Financial Management - Experience in developing and managing annual budgets and financial processes
- Stakeholder relationship management
- Strategic communications
- Experience working within the philanthropy/ development sector
- Board-level reporting and analysis
All applications should comprise:
A cover letter, no longer than two pages, outlining your motivation and relevant experience for the role. The cover letter should also include the names of three referees. Please note that these referees will not be contacted until late in the process and with your prior agreement. Your application and the names referees will be held in strictest confidence.
A full CV, including educational and professional qualifications, a full employment history showing the more significant positions, responsibilities held and relevant achievements.