Global Chief Financial Officer

Edinburgh, United Kingdom
09 Jul 2019
End of advertisement period
05 Aug 2019
Contract Type
Full Time

Closing date 5 Aug 2019 23:00 (UK time)
Salary £59,828–Negotiable (Grade 10)
Location Edinburgh
Category Professional & Managerial
Status Full Time     
Organization Name
University Executive and Deputy Principals      

About Heriot-Watt University          

Heriot-Watt University has five campuses: three in the UK (Edinburgh, Scottish Borders and Orkney), one in Dubai and one in Malaysia. The University offers a highly distinctive range of degree programmes in the specialist areas of science, engineering, design, business and languages.

With a history dating back to 1821, Heriot-Watt University has established a reputation for world-class teaching and practical, leading-edge research, which has made it one of the top UK universities for business and industry. We connect with industry at every level and develop programmes to match their needs – so employers get work-ready industry-fit graduates.

Heriot-Watt is also Scotland's most international university, boasting the largest international student cohort.

We have an established set of values that help us to nurture innovation and leadership, and show our commitment to continuous improvement and development in all our activities.

For full details on our University please view our Careers at Heriot-Watt http://www.hw.ac.uk/about/careers-at-heriot-watt.htm

About our Team          

Reporting to the Principal the Global Chief Financial Officer (GCFO) is responsible for the financial strategy and commercial activities of the University, including financial and information management, financial control and reporting, planning and capital investment and allocation.      

Detailed Description          

The Global Chief Financial Officer will: 

  • Provide global financial leadership and direction to the University in order to drive, deliver and support the University’s strategy for sustainable growth and development in a rapidly changing and competitive environment. 
  • Deliver globally connected, consistent and high performing Finance functions. Develop, lead and manage a global finance function providing high quality processes and controls, management accounts and strategic financial and business planning, analysis and reporting. 
  • Provide commercial direction and oversight, supporting the strategic planning process by driving financial and operating performance through the strategic long-term financial planning and budgeting processes. Ensure that senior leaders have the analysis and information required to make key strategic decisions in order to achieve best overall value for the University.      

Key duties and responsibilities          


Strategic Outlook 

  • As a key member of the University Executive, support the Principal, Vice Principal (Provost) and Executive team and University Court in achieving the global vision, direction and objectives set out in Strategy 2025 whilst ensuring the highest standards of financial and risk management, probity and accountability are maintained. Challenge, advise, and support the leadership team to develop new sources of income, philanthropic and other major partnerships, grow existing income, reduce costs and improve surpluses through innovative ways of working. 
  • Work closely and collaboratively with other members of the University Executive inclusive of Heads of School, campus Provosts and COO in Dubai and Malaysia to undertake financial scenario planning, linked to the Strategic Plan and supporting strategies, to ensure delivery of operational plans and targets for the ongoing financial sustainability of the University.
  • Develop and deliver a global financial strategy for the University which facilitates effective strategic planning and capital and other investment decisions whilst maintaining best practice in stewardship of resources. Lead and support specific strategic projects which will have a significant impact on the University’s performance and operations. 
  • Ensure the Principal, Vice Principal (Provost), University Court and other high-level Committees are provided with strategic advice and guidance, and appropriate, timely and easily accessible financial information required for planning, resource allocation and strategic decision-making. 
  • Contribute to the development and delivery of University-wide initiatives (e.g. Strategic Plan 2025, Learning and Teaching Strategy, Research and Enterprise Strategy) drawing upon and sharing knowledge gained through engagement and collaborative relationships with key internal and external stakeholders to inform and influence decisions.

Provide visionary leadership to: 

  • Develop business partnerships with corporates, the Scottish and UK Government departments and agencies and other key political and external bodies, to ensure that Heriot-Watt is positioned to best advantage in order to enhance both the reputational and financial position of the University. 
  • Provide commercial leadership to the University’s revenue-generating businesses and in the identification of new commercial opportunities which provide viable income sources including leverage with philanthropic activities; develop, manage and champion significant business cases and strategic initiatives of the University.
  • Ensure full compliance with all statutory reporting requirements both financial and non-financial are maintained in all territories of operation. 
  • Provide clear leadership and support by fostering a high performing team culture of continuous improvement and ongoing focus on providing a high quality service to the University community measured against agreed service level agreements. Establish a values-led culture within own area of responsibility and purposefully contribute to its embedding throughout the University, working collegiately across geographic boundaries, with transparency and openness, maintaining strong communication channels at all times.  

The Role

  • Engage actively across the University, acting as an ambassador for the life of the University and its communities and representing the University at local, regional and international events and meetings, and on external bodies and committees, as appropriate, to ensure the University is able to influence at the highest level.

Management Responsibilities and Deliverables: 

  • Provide high-level advice and guidance to the Principal, Vice Principal (Provost) University Court and members of the University Executive in  the areas of financial strategy, financial risk and strategic deployment  of resources, ensuring compliance with institutional, legal and regulatory requirements. 
  • Ensure the integrity of the University’s financial information and report to the University Court and Finance and Audit Committees on the financial position and performance of the University, producing papers and other documentation as required. Alerting the Principal and Court of changes  that may have significant financial implications for the University. 
  • Lead financial planning and resource allocation, ensuring appropriate and robust financial information is used in the University’s annual planning and budgeting cycle. Monitor and control the University’s financial operations including managing the process of capital and budget setting. 
  • Set the agenda for the University’s major financial, business and commercial developments and opportunities, ensuring the effective use of the University’s assets to support the investment strategy. Provide financial input to the assessment of business cases, establishing robust protocols to ensure any proposals are fully evaluated, taking into account future commitments. 
  • Develop the University’s approach to costing and funding activities in order to robustly underpin business decisions and drive better value for money. Identify and develop opportunities for the University to increase impact, revenue and funding opportunities to enhance the financial position of the University.
  • Work collaboratively with the Directors of HR and IS to lead and support the development and implementation of the “Enterprise Resource Planner” and other relevant systems to ensure delivery of a joined up HR/Finance/Payroll/ Planning & Procurement system. 
  • Maintain robust and accurate management information system, resource allocation modelling, business intelligence and reporting capabilities on which to base strategic and operational decisions and drive performance.
  • Manage the Global Finance functions including people management, financial management and other relevant administration. Build a global finance leadership and management team and ensure they work collaboratively with all areas of the University particularly the University Planning function.
  • Adopt and drive an appropriate digital first approach to management information suited to a global University.  

Championing Change and a Globally Connected University: 

  • Support the University Executive in change management initiatives, influencing, defining and managing stakeholder expectations. 
  • Manage the implications of change on the finance function, maintaining commitment and service levels by providing guidance, coaching and support to relevant teams through periods of organisational change. 
  • Positively promote the University internally and externally through positive leadership, attending relevant events and actively demonstrate the University’s values. 
  • Build partnerships to advance the University’s profile and strategies, including at an international level. 
  • Work with the Secretary of the University, Professional Services Directors and Executive team to ensure the delivery of  joined-up, globally connected University wide systems and processes that are informed and resourced to meet strategic student and staff business needs.      

Education, qualifications and experience          


Academic, technical and professional education and training.  


  • Educated to degree level or equivalent, with relevant professional accountancy qualification(s); 
  • Membership of a recognised accounting professional body.  


Additional postgraduate qualification or evidence of continuous professional development.



  • Demonstrative track record of achievement as a senior-level finance professional within a large, complex and global organisation; 
  • Evidence of impact which has led to real changes in that organisation’s effectiveness, financial sustainability, influence and reputation; 
  • Significant commercial financial experience in raising capital and funding along with establishing and operating in joint-ventures; 
  • Significant experience of leadership and management of highly specialised operational teams (Finance and Planning) at or near Director level; 
  • Strong competence in all finance and accounting processes and ability to drive best practice – leadership of all statutory financial and associated regulatory and tax reporting requirements; 
  • Experience of different pension arrangements such as to enable an understanding of pension schemes relevant to higher education in the UK; 
  • Experience of leading strategic and business planning processes including the ability to establish and apply performance measurement and tracking systems; 
  • Political acumen and skills to develop productive relationships with government agencies and other key external bodies; 
  • Demonstrable experience of successfully managing and delivering strategic change in a large, complex and global organisation; 
  • Exceptionally strong analytical and problem solving skills and the ability to provide qualitative and quantitative analysis and insights to assist in strategic decision making, both orally and in writing;
  • Proven track record of efficient and effective management of resources, including development and leadership of people;
  • Evidence of working collaboratively with colleagues (especially nonfinancial) to influence decision making and bring about cultural change whilst improving commercial performance; 
  • Experience of ERP implementations and utilising complex ERP systems, overseeing the investment and deployment of new technologies and supporting procedures; 
  • An understanding of contemporary issues facing the higher education sector in the UK.  


  • Knowledge of current policies, practices and technologies and reporting requirements relevant to higher education in the UK; 
  • Understanding/insights into the UK, and ideally, international funding landscape within Higher Education and wider public and private sector.  


  • Engaging and collaborative approach that aligns with the University’s Values. 
  • Strong consultative, influencing, communication, presentation and interpersonal skills to effectively interact with students and staff across the University, including academic and support service staff, all levels of management; 
  • Proven commercial acumen and ability to successfully deliver complex, high value negotiations and oversee major capital expenditure projects; 
  • Experience of leading significant corporate transactions including joint ventures, partnerships ideally on a cross border basis; 
  • Ability to lead change both within the Finance Function and wider organisation and perform calmly and consistently under pressure; 
  • Excellent influencing and coaching skills, to be able to influence and persuade senior representatives and others across the University in issues relating to the operational services and the requirement for future enhancements to support and enhance the University’s objectives; 
  • Proven experience of dealing with and leading during periods of uncertainty and ambiguity; 
  • Good track record as a team player, developing and maintaining positive working relationships with internal and external stakeholders, peers and others;  


Whilst the role is based in Edinburgh, international travel to all Campuses will be required on a regular basis.      

How To Apply          

Heriot-Watt University has engaged the services of Odgers Berndston to whom applications should be sent by the closing date of Monday  5 August 2019.

In order to apply, please submit a comprehensive curriculum vitae along with a covering letter setting out your interest in the role and details of how you match the required criteria. Please include in a separate document your current salary details and the names and addresses of three referees. Referees will not be approached until the final stages and not without prior permission from candidates.

The preferred method of application is online at www.odgers.com/72739.  If you are unable to apply online please email your application to  72739@odgers.com. If candidates prefer to send their application by post,  it should be addressed to:  Donna-Maria Miles Odgers Berndtson 20 Cannon Street London EC4M 6XD.

All applications will receive an automated response.

Key Dates

Following a long list meeting of the Selection Panel, successful candidates will be invited to attend preliminary interviews with Odgers Berndtson during w/c 19 August and w/c 26 August 2019. The final interview process with Heriot-Watt University will take place on  30 September 2019.

Please diarise these dates accordingly.

This role does not meet the minimum requirements set by UKVI to enable sponsorship of non-European nationals. Therefore we cannot progress applications from candidates who require sponsorship to work in the UK. For further information on this please visit the UK Visas and Immigration website: https://www.gov.uk/browse/visas-immigration/work-visas

At Heriot-Watt University we understand that being diverse makes us better which is why we support a culture of respect and equal opportunity, and value diversity at the heart of what we do. We want to increase the diversity of our workplace to underpin a dynamic and creative environment.

We welcome and will consider flexible working patterns e.g. part-time working and job share options.

Use our total rewards calculator: https://www.hw.ac.uk/about/work/total-rewards-calculator.htm to see the value of benefits provided by Heriot-Watt University.

 Minimum Salary 59828      

Maximum Salary      

Currency GBP

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