News & events


03 August 2020

Vacancy: Chief Executive Officer (CEO)

Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)

The Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) in South Africa is a statutory council that conducts policy focused research in the humanities and social sciences, for the public good. The focus if its work is to generate knowledge towards the reduction of poverty and inequality and improved employment opportunities for a better quality of life. The organisation currently employs 450 staff in offices in Pretoria, Cape Town, Durban and Pietermaritzburg (Sweetwaters).

The Council seeks to appoint a person who will lead the HSRC in implementing its five-year strategic plan, will strengthen research and development in the humanities and social sciences in South Africa, and develop and solidify partnerships with local, continental and international partners.

This is a contract position for five years and may be renewable for a second term at the discretion of the Board. The successful applicant can be based in either Cape Town or Pretoria.  

Key areas of responsibility of the CEO are to:

  • Drive the strategic direction of the HSRC in delivering “social science that makes a difference” to the development challenges of South Africa, the African  continent, and globally;
  • Profile and position the organisation as leaders in the production and use of social science research with Government, the local and international scientific community, civil society and the private sector;
  • Actively drive initiatives to enhance the HSRC’s impact and visibility locally and internationally;
  • Provide academic and strategic leadership to the executive team of researchers and support services managers in the production and use of high-quality, policy-relevant social science research;
  • Sustain the organization through advancement and establishing of fundraising mechanisms and through effective planning and management of financial and other resources for optimal performance;
  • Account to the Board of the HSRC on the performance of the organisation;
  • Strengthen the HSRC’s relationships with its key stakeholders and develop its network of local and international knowledge partners and collaborators;
  • Extend the transformation of the HSRC, with particular regard to the knowledge project, capacity-building, representivity and organisational structure and culture;
  • Enhance the HSRC’s research reputation nationally and internationally.

To achieve the above mandate, the successful applicant will ideally have:

  • Academic standing and research gravitas
  • The ability to provide intellectual and strategic leadership to the HSRC
  • Academic leadership and management experience
  • An understanding of the local and international research environment
  • An understanding of the developmental context, issues and challenges of the country and the continent
  • The ability to work with policy makers in Government, civil society and elsewhere
  • Insight into the legislative and policy developments in science and technology in South Africa
  • Capacity to successfully build and maintain relationships with Universities, Research bodies, Policy Think Tanks and other Science Councils
  • Access to research networks that can be mobilized to strengthen the HSRC, the country and the continent
  • Strong business, leadership and management qualities and aptitude at an executive level
  • Capacity to drive the HSRC’s transformation agenda and targets
  • Entrepreneurial drive and ability to innovatively address funding demands
  • Exceptional skill and experience in raising external funding
  • Ability to strengthen and leverage the HSRC’s impact on knowledge, policy and society.

Minimum requirements

  • A PhD degree in the broad Social Sciences or Humanities field
  • At least 15 years of leadership experience in an academic/research environment, 7 of which must be at an executive level;
  • Knowledge of the regulatory environment in which the HSRC operates.

Recommended additional requirements

  • A management qualification in addition to a PhD degree would be an advantage.

Given these demanding requirements, the HSRC offers a competitive package, designed to attract a candidate of the highest caliber. Relocation costs will be covered, if applicable.

The HSRC is committed to furthering employment equity in its appointment practices.

Applicants must submit a letter of motivation, CV, details of three referees with contact details (telephone and e-mail) and copies of three recent, sole or first-authored publications.  The HSRC will only consider applications that comply with the above requirements. Shortlisted candidates will be invited to attend an interview on a date to be announced, and will be required to make an oral presentation to the HSRC community in the competencies required.

Applications should be addressed to the Secretary of Council, and sent

  • by courier or delivery to Office 602, HSRC, Merchant House, 116-118 Buitengracht Street, Cape Town, 8001, South Africa; or
  • by e-mail to

Fax applications will not be accepted.

For further enquiries regarding the Chief Executive Officer position, please contact the Secretary of Council, Marizane Rousseau, by e-mail at

Applications should be submitted by no later than 31 August 2020. Applicants who have not been contacted within eight weeks should assume that their application was unsuccessful. Only candidates who are interviewed will be advised of the outcome of the interview.

Applications from recruitment agencies will not be accepted.

Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)

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