RDA is seeking a Secretary General - deadline extended to the 1st March 2017

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RDA is seeking a Secretary General - deadline extended to the 1st March 2017
13 Feb 2017

RDA is seeking a Secretary General - deadline extended to the 1st March 2017

Please download the recruitment announcement for the full context, and details on the selection process and appointment. 

The Research Data Alliance (RDA) is recruiting a Secretary General to begin in April of 2017. The ideal candidate is a suitably experienced leader with a demonstrated ability to engage with the members, Council and senior stakeholders of the RDA, and the ability to be a key driver of the RDA mission of rapidly building the social and technical bridges that enable sharing of data.

The Secretary General reports to the co-chairs of the RDA Council.

The appointment to this position is intended to be for two years and renewable. The employment vehicle for the Secretary General is a contract between the Research Data Alliance Foundation and an organisation willing to host the Secretary General.

The Secretary General can be based in any country and will be expected to attend many international meetings, including all RDA Plenaries. At present most of these meetings take place in North America and Europe.

The Secretary General is appointed by the RDA Council. Queries about this role can be made to John Wood (john.wood[at]acu.ac.uk), co-Chair of the RDA Council. Applications for this role should be sent to applications[at]rd-alliance.org. The application should provide a description of the candidate’s experience relevant to the role (including a response to the key selection criteria below), a CV, a note proposing the organisation that would host the candidate, and a letter of support from the proposed host and any particular requirements of the host. The closing date is March 1, 2017.

The role of the Secretary General is to support the RDA membership, and its supporting structures to achieve the goal of the Research Data Alliance - to accelerate international data-driven innovation and discovery by facilitating research data sharing and exchange.

The responsibilities of the Secretary General include:


  1. Engage with and represent the RDA membership in accordance with the guiding principles of RDA.
  2. Communicate with all members regarding the progress and issues facing the RDA.
  3. Apply international experience in dealing with members and supporters from many countries with different cultures.
  4. Assist Working and Interest Groups.


  1. Manage the RDA Secretariat which includes managing a distributed team responsible for all matters related to the operations of the RDA. This includes supporting the RDA Council and the Technical and Organisational Advisory Boards as well as supporting the planning and organising of the plenary meetings of the RDA.
  2. Active participation in the work of the Secretariat.
  3. Operating the RDA legal entity as directed by the RDA Council, which allows members from any nation of the world to join and where there is no restriction for receiving funds from a wide range of funders.
  4. Be responsible for the finances and other issues of governance of the RDA Foundation as a legal entity.  The Secretary General is the responsible accounting officer for the purposes of tax and conforming to the legal requirements of a not for profit company under UK law.  
  5. Be familiar with UK Charity and Company law in as much as it affects the legal entity.
  6. Prepare annual accounts and report for submission to the UK Charity Commission.


  1. Participate in the Council as an ex-officio member.
  2. Attend all meetings of Council and appropriate Technical and Organisational Advisory Boards and liaise with their chairs on a regular basis.
  3. Participate in strategic planning that builds a solid foundation for the RDA with Council.
  4. Be conversant with the main issues facing the RDA as the field develops and be alert to changes in technology, practice, and international legal changes that may affect open access, intellectual property rights, and other related issues.
  5. Prepare and present an Annual Report to the Council for approval.
  6. Prepare and present to Council an annual Operations Plan for approval and update at each Council meeting depending on changing circumstances.
  7. Develop both a Council and Management risk register.
  8. Agree with Council the formation and operation of an audit and remuneration committee when funds become available.


  1. Be able to present the work of the RDA to any audience including future supporters from a wide variety of backgrounds.
  2. Represent the RDA in discussions with other parties and associated organisations as they arise.
  3. Be willing to travel extensively on behalf of the RDA, especially to potential new countries that may wish to join the RDA in some capacity.
  4. Develop and grow an organisational culture that is open, inclusive and provides no surprises, reflective of the RDA Guiding Principles.
  5. Represent the RDA politically and be sensitive to cultural differences of supporters.

Selection process

The process will be run by the RDA Council. An international search will be conducted by March 1, 2017. Short-listing will take place in March with interviews scheduled by the end of the month. The interviews will be conducted by videoconference for all candidates..

The organisation can be determined during this process.

Candidates will be interviewed based on the following criteria:

Key selection criteria:

  1. Proven management experience including board engagement
  2. Proven experience in management of finance, human resources, planning, and operations of an organisation
  3. Strong understanding of RDA
  4. Proven community development expertise
  5. Proven senior representation and leadership experience
  6. Proven “doer” – the role requires an activist, as well as a leader
  7. Able to arrange appropriate contractual relationship with the RDA Foundation


  1. Proven experience in international relations
  2. Demonstrated experience of working in a culturally diverse international organisation
  3. Data infrastructure expertise
  4. Able to start quickly


The successful candidate will be employed by an organisation local to the candidate. That organisation will be contracted to supply the services of the “RDA Secretary General”, and would be provided the salary expenses and on-costs associated with that role. The contract will be between that organisation and the RDA Foundation.