Executive Director: Research & Innovation (R&I)

Johannesburg (ZA)
02 Nov 2021
End of advertisement period
29 Nov 2021
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time


The University of Johannesburg (UJ) is a vibrant and cosmopolitan comprehensive university anchored in Africa and driven by a powerful strategy focused on attaining global excellence and stature. With an emphasis on innovative thinking and sustainable strategic partnerships, UJ is an international university of choice. The University is guided by the Vice-Chancellor’s vision of ‘Positioning UJ in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) within the context of the changing social, political and economic fortunes of Africa.’ With eight faculties, a college, a business school, and over fifty research centres and institutes, the University has a large pool of internationally recognised experts, established and emerging researchers in a wide array of research focus areas. The University provides the ideal space for interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research across all campuses.

Job description

The University seeks to appoint an exceptionally motivated and energetic leader of high professional and academic standing as Executive Director: Research & Innovation (R&I). Reporting to the Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research & Internationalisation, the Executive Director is a member of the University’s Executive Leadership Group and has strategic, operational, and administrative oversight of the R&I Division. The Executive Director must effectively and collegially steward the Division to achieve in all aspects related to research and innovation while overseeing the following sub-divisions: Strategic Research Support, Research Administration, Research Intelligence and the Technology Transfer Office.


The Executive Director will be required to:

  • Develop, update, articulate and implement institutional research and innovation strategies, and in partnership with the faculties, institutes and research centres, and other professional support divisions, drive or support initiatives to realise the University’s long-term strategy outcomes and enhance its Global Excellence and Stature (GES) in the context of 4IR;
  • Understand the University’s strategic plan and advance the University’s research agenda – research outputs, outcomes and impact;
  • Promote and advance excellence in research and innovation;
  • Sustain and strengthen national and international research and innovation partnerships and collaborations;
  • Promote the University’s research and innovation outcomes and impact at local, national, regional and global platforms and forums;
  • In collaboration with the International Office, strengthen relationships with the public and private sectors and academic partners in South Africa and internationally;
  • Implement policies and develop resources that promote and enhance the research and innovation capacity;
  • Serve on various institutional committees as representative and convey thought leadership on research and innovation matters;
  • Be an active lead or facilitator in raising funds for research and innovation;
  • In collaboration with the faculty leadership and other divisions, contribute to providing an enabling and supportive research and innovation environment for all researchers, creators and students;
  • Ensure the highest level of divisional governance, administration and systems functioning, including risk management;
  • Modernise processes/systems and associated change management (people aspect), using 4IR tools and collaborating with UJ divisions (such as Information and Communication Systems);
  • Effectively manage administrative and professional support staff, including staff development (recognition, retention and recruitment);
  • Ensure effective and efficient management of the Division’s internal budget allocations, external funding, subsidies and other resources;
  • Lead the development of research and innovation institutional impact framework, policies, measures, tracking and dissemination thereof;
  • Ensure synergy between the University’s Technology Transfer Office and commercialisation avenues;
  • Manage strategic risks associated with the portfolio; and
  • Enable an ecosystem for research integrity. 

Minimum requirements

  • Substantial academic stature, with a PhD or equivalent qualification.
  • An excellent reputation supported by senior academic and/or administrative experience.
  • Sound knowledge of and insight into the South African Higher Education, Research and Innovation landscape.
  • Proven excellent strategic leadership skills and knowledge, insights, and vision to support the academic community and leadership in the University’s drive to deliver cutting-edge research and innovation.
  • Proven resource, strategic and people management skills, and developing, maintaining, and strengthening collaborative networks.
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills.
  • Excellent conflict management and administrative skills.
  • Exceptional ability, emotional intelligence and resilience to function under pressure.
  • Have unquestionable professional integrity, accomplishments and standing in the peer community.


  • Where applicable, professional registration with a relevant South African statutory body and/or international association.
  • Experience in process modernisation (where appropriate, the University is keen to automate administrative processes and reduce bureaucracy).

Terms of Appointment:

The position of Executive Director is a five-year (5) contract appointment, with an executive-level remuneration and benefits package commensurate with experience and qualifications. The appointment may be renewed for a further term of office, subject to excellent performance.

Retirement age:

The normal retirement age for members of the Executive Leadership Group is 65. Consideration will be given to candidates who would be able to serve for a 5-year term.


To apply, please send a detailed Curriculum Vitae and A LETTER OF MOTIVATION OUTLINING A POSSIBLE VISION AND STRATEGIC DIRECTION FOR THE POSITION. The names and full contact details (including telephone numbers and email addresses) of at least three (3) traceable and credible referees should accompany applications.

Applications must be submitted through our online platform: For enquiries, please contact Ms Busisiwe Dumezweni, Human Resources Division,

CLOSING DATE: 29 November 2021

Your application, comprising of a detailed Curriculum Vitae as well as the names and full contact details (including telephone numbers and e-mail addresses) of at least three traceable and credible referees must be uploaded before or on the closing date of the advertised post. Please also attach the following: a copy of your highest academic qualification, proof of registration with professional bodies you might belong to and if applying for an academic position, a list of accredited research output and/ or a portfolio of your creative output.

Enquiries (UJ e-recruitment Portal)

If you have general enquiries regarding the advertised post, please send an e-mail with the subject line being the reference number of the post to
If you require technical support / assistance on the UJ e-recruitment website, please contact our service provider PNET on the following contact details: 0861 227337/010 140 3099 or email

Candidates may be subjected to appropriate psychometric testing and other selection instruments.

In conjunction to merit on the basis of qualifications, experience and proven achievements the University of Johannesburg is committed to providing equal employment opportunities for persons with disabilities and those individuals from the historically disadvantaged groups. As necessitated by operational requirements the University reserves the right not to make an appointment to positions advertised. If you have not received a response from the University within 8 weeks of the closing date, you should assume that your application has been unsuccessful. 

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