Chief Operating Officer

Forum for the Future

  • Full Time

To apply for this job please visit

About Forum for the Future

For 25 years we’ve been working in partnership with business, governments and civil society to accelerate transformation toward a just and regenerative future. Through our programmes – focused on climate, food and value chains – we are actively catalysing change on key global challenges and building the capacity of individuals and organisations to act more systemically. At this critical moment in time, we are working with actors across sectors to imagine a radically different future and understand their role in change.

We do this by:

  • Scanning horizons and reimagining the future

  • Facilitating collaborative action that unlocks new approaches

  • Supporting and stretching organisations with ambitious strategy

  • Building capacity to act systemically

About the role

Forum has recently been through a period of rapid development transitioning its business model and funding sources towards a more balanced hybrid model incorporating both philanthropic and corporate support. We are also continuing our journey to a more international organisation from a historic UK-focus.

Having pioneered the application of the concept of system change for sustainability, Forum is now embarking on a strategic review designed to allow it to fully realise ambitious plans for even greater impact, including how we apply these principles and practices to the organisation itself.


To deliver effective enabling operational leadership including business planning, finance, people, governance, legal and technology across Forum in support of the organisational strategy. This includes taking account of the differing contexts in each of our geographies bringing them together in a cohesive whole.

Key responsibilities

  • Together with the Chief Executive and Senior Management Team:

    • Collaboratively develop, direct and lead the day-to-day operations to deliver Forum’s mission, strategy and operational plans.

    • Collectively promote a values led culture of high impact and continual learning and development that is inclusive, diverse and supportive of individual wellbeing.

    • Act as secretary for the senior management team meetings, setting agendas with the Chief Executive taking into account organisational need and ensuring time is effectively organised.

  • Lead on the development and delivery of Forum’s resources strategy through the senior management team and with relevant heads of team including:

    • Finance – oversee development and delivery of Forum’s financial strategy, financial planning and analysis, financial reporting, operational financial management, financial control and audit, compliance with relevant laws and individual contractual arrangements and financial risk management. Work closely with the Chief Development and Communications Officer on the continued evolution of the business model and funding flows.

    • People – oversee development and delivery of Forum’s people strategy, policies, advice and support, capability planning and development, performance management and compliance with relevant employment laws. Work closely with the Global Director of Systems Change Learning to develop and deliver learning and knowledge management plans.

    • Risk – develop and lead Forum’s overall approach to risk management, maintain the organisational risk register and report to the Trustees on risk related matters.

    • Legal – advise on legal and contractual issues across Forum with particular regard to charity and company law, trading issues and intellectual property as it applies in each of the four geographies, production and/or review of third party contracts.

    • Technology – development and delivery of Forum’s technology strategy, policies, infrastructure and support.

    • Offices – development of international approaches and policies around office provision, health & safety, insurance and sustainability of own operations and lead on the delivery of these for the UK based teams with the Directors of the US & Asia retaining this responsibility within those offices.

    • Governance – act as Company Secretary for the UK charity, supporting and advising the Board of Trustees as appropriate. In conjunction with the Chief Executive and Chair, develop agendas for board and sub-committee meetings with particular responsibility for the Audit and Assurance Committee and liaison with the Treasurer and the Remuneration Committee. Act as director of subsidiary entities including those in India, Singapore and the US. Support the ongoing development of Forum’s governance in all jurisdictions in line with good practice. With the Chief Executive, and in collaboration with other members of the Senior Management Team develop internal decision making and other internal governance approaches.

    • Business planning – lead the annual business planning process with specific responsibility for financial planning and budgeting.

  • Lead the resource team including recruiting, directing, coaching and developing the resource staff to support and enable the rest of the organisation.

  • Model ongoing personal development, a values led approach to work and leadership that is inclusive and diverse and a focus on own wellbeing.

  • Any other task as may be reasonably required by the Chief Executive or the Board of Trustees.

Please note that this list is indicative of the key responsibilities of this role but is by no means exhaustive. This job description does not form part of the contract of employment.


  • Together with the Senior Management Team:

    • delivery of organisational plans in line with the mission and strategy with specific accountability for those in relation to business operations.

    • enable and inspire a thriving and resilient organisation and provide clear direction for Forum’s role in delivering a regenerative and just future.

  • A resilient organisation both financially and operationally.

  • A high-functioning resource team.​

Capabilities required

  • Experience in leading a range of support functions including: business planning, finance, people, technology, legal and company secretarial within an international organisation in one (essential) or more (desirable) of our four locations: India, Singapore, UK & US.

  • Experience of operating strategically as a senior leader in an international non-profit organisation of similar size and complexity.

  • Experience of a variety of funding types and business models.

  • Experience of leading through change.

  • An inclusive and enabling leadership style.

  • A track record of delivering strong operational and financial results in an evolving environment and with a particular focus on doing this through effective processes, planning, decision making and change management.

  • Experience in developing and leading an inclusive values-based culture, integrating values into operational strategy, policy and process with a particular focus on inclusion and diversity and staff wellbeing.

  • Excellent written and oral communication skills including ability to present technical information in a concise and accessible way.

  • ACA, FCA or equivalent financial qualification.

  • Strong financial strategy, planning and management experience in an organisation of similar size & complexity (essential) that receives income in the form of both fees for service and grants (desirable).

  • A thorough understanding of UK charity law and governance responsibilities (essential). Knowledge of other charity law and governance in India, Singapore or the US would be a bonus.

  • Working knowledge of employment law and practice in one (essential) or more (desirable) of our current locations.

  • Experience of reviewing and negotiating legal contracts.

Personal leadership

  • A demonstrable commitment to Forum’s mission and values.

  • A strong and inspirational leader and people manager – providing support, coaching and motivation to others.

  • Self-reflective with a commitment to continual learning and development.

  • A collaborative approach – able to work effectively across a matrixed international structure and navigate ambiguity in emergent processes.

  • Personally resilient and self-motivating

Our work environment

We are inspired by the world in which we live and those with whom we share it. We celebrate the indivisibility of all life forms on Earth, are committed to the pursuit of equity, and seek to act justly in all we do. These values help build our common culture, shape our shared purpose and guide us in all actions and decisions. We believe in being courageous, adaptive, inquisitive, respectful, empathetic and playful.

We enjoy working in teams, collaborating, and learning from each other. We are a dynamic, flexible and supportive team of people who care about each other’s wellbeing and the world around us.

At Forum, we aspire to foster positive team spirit and to provide the best possible working environment for all our staff; one that is based on highest standards of ethics, honesty, integrity, openness and transparency.

We are an inclusive organisation that encourages applications from across our diverse communities. We’re committed to building a team of capable and thriving people from all walks of life.

Together we can reinvent the way the world works.


To apply, please send your CV and cover letter (no more than 2 pages) to


Sunday 13 June: Application Deadline

Week of 21 June: Shortlisting

Week of 28 June: First stage interviews

Week of 5 July: Second stage interviews


Please note:

All Forum employees are currently working remotely; once the offices re-open, we will return to working from our London Office.

If you do not already hold the right to work in London and/or require sponsorship in order to continue working in the country, you should think carefully before applying. This is because we will be unable to sponsor you.

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