SW1Y, London (On-site)
£61,506 - £76,882 per year
Permanent, Full-time
Job description

The Royal Society is the independent scientific academy of the UK and the Commonwealth, dedicated to promoting excellence in science. It is a Fellowship of many of the world’s most distinguished scientists drawn from all areas of science, engineering and medicine. The Society’s fundamental purpose, as reflected in its founding charters of the 1660s, is to recognise, promote and support excellence in science and to encourage the development and use of science for the benefit of humanity.

The Society’s policy activities address global challenges such as pandemic responses, climate change, energy, food and water security; it makes the case for strengthening investment in research and innovation and developing STEM education; and it sets out the potential for emerging areas of science and technology such as data science, AI and genetic technologies. 

Data and digital technology policy at the Royal Society

The Society’s work on data and digital technology policy focuses on ensuring that data-enabled and digital technologies are developed and used for the widest societal benefit. The work that we have carried out covers topics including:

  • the promise and potential of technologies such as machine learning, AI and privacy-enhancing technologies;
  • the appropriate governance for data use to ensure that data and digital technologies are used fairly, ethically and inclusively;
  • ensuring that digital technologies are applied to major policy and societal challenges, such as addressing the climate crisis;
  • setting out the skills needed to enable use of data across organisations, and understanding the impacts of AI and digital technologies on the workforce.

Across these work areas, we have made the case for:

  • putting human flourishing at the centre of data governance;
  • enabling well-governed access to data through appropriate use of governance, regulation and technological tools;
  • focusing the development and deployment of technologies on societal benefit, by setting research challenges to catalyse innovation;
  • the societal value of data and AI in areas from pandemic response, to healthcare, to reaching net zero. 

The Society works in partnership with businesses, National Academies, learned societies, charities and government. It deploys a wide range of channels and approaches, from the delivery of major reports to rapid shorter statements. It catalyses the creation of influential networks, and makes skilful use of the Society’s digital and media channels, and well-founded programmes of events. The Society continues to develop and look for innovative approaches that will increase its influence in regional, national and international policy debates.

The role of Head of Policy, Data and Digital technology

The Royal Society has achieved significant impact and influence through its broad programme of work on data and digital technology policy. The evidence produced by the Society has been repeatedly taken up as an authoritative, objective and independent view on the potential of data-enabled technologies and their appropriate governance. Over the last five years a great deal has changed across the landscape of data and digital technology policy. We are seeking a team leader who can build on this significant body of work and take it forward in an every-changing context of technology development and policy debate.

You will be an experienced leader with a substantial career in technology policy, ideally focused on data, digital or emerging technologies. You will enjoy exceptional visibility and variety and must have the experience and credibility to represent the Society externally and to network with influencers and decision makers at senior levels.

You will make a visible and sustained contribution to the Society’s broader policy goals. This will include situating the Society’s work on data and digital tech policy within the broader policy programme and the Society’s overarching strategy. It will also include working with senior colleagues to identify emerging opportunities and shape new programmes and ways of working beyond your immediate team.

You will be a highly capable manager, able to juggle and prioritise a demanding mix of projects and tasks. You will have a detailed understanding and direct experience of policy processes in the UK, be engaged with the international policy landscape, and ensure that the Society’s work is informed by robust evidence. You will have project and line management responsibility for a number of policy and project staff, and will play an active role in many aspects of the science policy directorate.

Reports to: Chief Science Policy Officer
Pay band: F
Salary: £61,506 - £76,882
Hours: Full time, 35 hours a week
Location: Remote and minimum 2 days per week at Carlton House Terrace, London 

Closing date - 28 January 2022 at 23:59

Under the UK Governments Points Based System, this role does not meet the criteria to be sponsored by The Royal Society for a Skilled Worker Route application.


Leading a team of around 7 members, depending on short term placements, you will be responsible for the strategic oversight of the Society’s data and digital technology policy work programmes, which currently include:

  • The Online Information Environment – understanding how the internet shapes people’s engagement with scientific information
  • Protecting Privacy in Practice – setting out the role of privacy enhancing technologies in data stewardship
  • Data for Policy – discussions on key issues in data policy, such as data for levelling up, online safety and
  • Pandemic response – well-governed use of data for pandemic response, including a major public dialogue on data for emergencies.

You will also:

  • Work with your team and the Society’s network of Fellows and experts in data and digital technology to shape new programmes of work
  • Evaluate the impact of existing work and draw on that to help build sustained impact and shape the future focus of the team
  • Devise ways of tackling each area of activity, setting objectives and targets and agreeing them with the Chief Science Policy Officer, Science Policy Committee, Science Policy Expert Advisory Committee and, where appropriate, Officers and Council
  • Identify synergies between policy objectives and the objectives of other parts of the Society to help deliver the Society’s wider strategy
  • Advise the Society’s leadership including its Council
  • Build and maintain a wide variety of external contacts across Westminster, Whitehall, UK and international policy organisations, at your own and at a higher level of seniority
  • Ensure the team delivers individual projects, working closely with colleagues and project teams and, where necessary, delivering project on time, on budget and to the agreed scope
  • Manage the budget and reporting requirements for the data and digital technology policy portfolio, and work closely with the Development Team to identify opportunities for funding for new projects
  • Line manage staff including the Senior Policy Advisors in the team, supporting their personal development, undertake performance management and encourage wider participation in directorate and organisational activities
  • With the Chief Science Policy Officer and other Heads of Policy, play an active and visible role in the management of the Society’s policy work and team, including leading across the policy team on coordinating internal quarterly finance reporting, and providing secretariat support for the policy team’s main fellowship oversight governance group, the Science Policy Committee.
Refreshed on: 20 January 2022
Closed date: 28 January 2022 at 23:30
Job ref: 2021-1504
Tags: Policy/Research, Senior Management

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