Kenya Country Director

British Institute in Eastern Africa (BIEA)

Job Summary

The British Institute in Eastern Africa (BIEA) seeks to appoint a new Kenya Country Director from June 2022.

  • Minimum Qualification: PHD
  • Experience Level: Executive level
  • Experience Length: 5 years

Job Description/Requirements

The British Institute in Eastern Africa (BIEA) seeks to appoint a new Kenya Country Director from June 2022. The Country Director will be an academic with an international reputation for research on eastern Africa, working in any discipline of the humanities and social sciences. They will also be able to demonstrate significant experience in leadership and management. The Country Director will be expected to conduct their own research while leading and overseeing the activities of the BIEA in Kenya, including the running of BIEA’s Nairobi base.

The appointment will be for three years in the first instance, renewable for a further two years subject to performance. Applicants who are able to arrange secondments from an existing post will be welcome to apply. Salary will be at a competitive rate, appropriate to experience and career-stage.

In line with Kenyan Government employment policies, we seek to fill this post with a Kenyan Citizen.

Further particulars for the position, including a full job description and a list of essential and desirable criteria for applications, can be found below.

Applications must be received by 17.00 East Africa Time on 31 January 2022. Interviews are likely to be held in mid-March 2022.


The British Institute in Eastern Africa (BIEA) is one of eight British International Research Institutes, or BIRI, funded by the UK government via the British Academy, the UK’s national Academy for humanities and social science. The BIEA’s remit is to conduct, support, and facilitate innovative, world-leading, high-impact research across the humanities, social sciences, in Eastern Africa and across the African continent. It is a limited company, with charitable status, based in London. The BIEA Council of Trustees acts as its governing body, setting overall strategy and policy, and has final authority over financial matters in particular. The Director, based in the UK, acts as the chief executive and is responsible to Council for the overall management, activities and development of the BIEA. The Director is also the main interface with the British Academy.

The BIEA’s research centre and library is located in Nairobi on Laikipia Road, Kileleshwa. It is managed and staffed there by a subsidiary organisation, BIEA Kenya, which is constituted as a Kenyan Non-Governmental Organisation. A Board of Directors, chaired by Professor Catherine Ndungu of Kenyatta University, oversees BIEA Kenya. Funding for BIEA Kenya comes principally from British Academy grants.

The Country Director, based in Nairobi, acts as the chief executive of BIEA Kenya. S/he is responsible for leading and overseeing the staff and operations, ensuring proper use of the facilities and other resources of the organisation within policies and financial parameters set by the Council in the UK and the Kenya Board. S/he is the Secretary to the Board of Directors. Her/his line manager is the Director (or, in her/his absence, theChair of the BIEA Research Committee). The Country Director is expected to maintain an active personal role in research and publication and should be a mid-career academic with an internationally established profile in the humanities and social sciences.

In line with Kenyan Government employment policies, we seek to fill this post with a Kenyan Citizen.

The specific duties of the Country Director are as follows –


  • Undertake and publish research to an international standard
  • Help to develop and sustain BIEA’s partnerships in externally-funded research projects and the administrative/financial systems required to support them, in line with the overall strategy of the BIEA.
  • Contribute as required to the preparation of research grant funding applications.
  • Participate in the workings of the BIEA Research Committee (which is responsible for setting the Research Strategy and overseeing the grants programme and conference budget).

Research Support

  • With the Director, review all proposed research contracts submitted to the BIEA, consulting with the Honorary Treasurer where contract values exceed £20,000, to decide which contracts to pursue.
  • With the Director, oversee project management operations to ensure that all research contracts are legally sound and protect the BIEA and that all projects are managed properly.
  • Provide assistance and support to researchers in the humanities and social sciences and ensure that any paid services are properly costed and charged.
  • Oversee the operation of the library and work to adapt the stock and facilities to meet the demands of visiting researchers.
  • Keep the equipment and other facilities/services offered to researchers under regular review to maintain their relevance and cost-effectiveness.
  • Seek to develop research capacity in academic institutions in Kenya and the wider region in line with the overall strategy of the BIEA. 
  • Oversee the management of the Graduate Attache and undergraduate volunteer programmes.
  • Ensure that all BIEA-associated researchers, including all BIEA Kenya research-active staff, conform to all relevant policies, especially the BIEA’s Research Policy.

Board of Directors – as Secretary to the Board

  • Prepare the annual programme of Board meetings.
  • Ensure that meeting notices, agendas, minutes and other papers for Board meetings are prepared and circulated in a timely way to Board members.
  • Oversee arrangements for the Annual General Meeting in accordance with the requirements of the BIEA Kenya Constitution.

Support to Director

  • Provide advice and support to the Director on the management, activities and development of BIEA Kenya.
  • Play an active role in the formulation and delivery of BIEA strategy and policies.
  • Provide input for the regular reports required by the British Academy and for the annual funding bids.
  • Organise the programme for the periodic visits to Nairobi by the Director and members of Council. 

Staff Management

  • Head the senior management team and provide leadership and direction to all staff.
  • Line manage the Assistant Country Director and ensure that s/he contributes appropriately both to research activity and to management tasks.
  • Line manage the HR & Administration Manager, the Research Manager and the Finance Manager.
  • Line manage other members of academic research staff including research fellows.
  • Ensure that staff job descriptions are reviewed at least annually and that the staff appraisal procedures are properly implemented.
  • Ensure that management policies and procedures are properly implemented and that they are kept up to date to meet changing requirements.


  • Oversee the management of the BIEA bank accounts in Nairobi and approve payments subject to the limits authorised in the Financial Policy.
  • Contribute to the development of draft annual budgets for BIEA Kenya.
  • Ensure phased quarterly spending is completed by the end of each quarter.
  • Manage expenditure in Nairobi against the approved budget with an agreed authority to spend against the budget
  • Ensure the proper keeping of financial records in Nairobi.
  • Contribute as necessary to the audit process and oversee the implementation of recommendations arising from the audit process.
  • Ensure that all statutory financial and other returns are made in a timely way to regulatory bodies in Kenya.
  • Liaise closely with the Director and the Honorary Treasurer on financial matters.

Nairobi Base

  • Oversee the maintenance of the buildings, grounds and other facilities of the Laikipia Road property, including the successful implementation of any construction projects.
  • Keep the security of the Nairobi base under constant review and ensure appropriate measures/plans are in place to meet potential threats to staff, visitors and buildings.
  • Liaise regularly with the other organisations which rent office space in the Nairobi base (the “Laikipia partners”) to harmonise relations and activities.
  • Contribute to plans for the long-term development of the Nairobi base.  

Events and Other Activities

  • Oversee a programme of BIEA Kenya events to promote and disseminate research.
  • Organise an Annual Lecture, usually in February/March, by a distinguished academic to showcase the role of BIEA.
  • Oversee the use/hire of the Laikipia Road facilities for research-related events run by non-BIEA organisations.
  • Seek to develop and maintain relationships and partnerships with local academic research institutions, private companies and diplomatic missions (including the British High Commission and FCDO) with a view to the long-term broadening of BIEA Kenya’s activities and support. 
  • Oversee the production of the Annual review with timely publication by end October each year.

Essential and Desirable Criteria –


1. A PhD within the Humanities and Social Sciences relating to Eastern Africa, defined by the BIEA as covering the area from Sudan in the north to Zimbabwe in the south, and including Madagascar (note the PhD must have been awarded by the date of the job application – we will not consider applications from individuals awaiting examination).

2. A strong track record of outstanding research activity and peer-reviewed publications.

3. Evidence of success in securing research funding

4. Evidence of further research plans, including a funding strategy.

5. Excellent verbal and written communication skills in English and Kiswahili.

6. Evidence of experience of line managing a team.

7. Evidence of experience of managing resources and budgets.

8. Evidence of the ability to lead, develop and motivate colleagues to achieve organisational aims and objectives.


1. Evidence of contribution to a department / organisation business strategy.

2. Knowledge of the UK HEI landscape. 

3. Experience of developing and implementing innovative outreach strategies to communicate research findings to diverse audiences.

4. Leadership / Management training.

5. Evidence of experience of line managing several managerial staff members at the same time.

6. Successful and sustained collaborations with international academics.

7. Evidence of student supervision and delivery of student-focused training.  

8. Evidence of success in fundraising aside from research grant applications.

How to apply

Applications should be submitted to Christine Gibson (UK Programme Coordinator): by 17.00 East Africa Time on 31 January 2022. Your letter of application should be accompanied by a full CV, details of three referees (one of whom should be your current line manager), and a statement of not more than 1,000 words setting out your personal research plan for the next three years (including possible sources of external funding). If you do not wish us to contact your referees without informing you first, please make this clear in your application letter.

Potential applicants may contact BIEA’s director, Dr Jane Humphris, with any specific questions:

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