Head of Finance Vacancy at The British Council

The British Council is the world’s leading cultural relations organization and creates opportunities for people in the UK and worldwide to understand each other, to work together and learn from one another. We see this as crucial to building secure, more prosperous and sustainable futures for us all.

We build trust and understanding between different countries and cultures and develop strong international links that are of benefit to people in Britain and the rest of the world.

British Council is recruiting to fill the below position below:

Job Title: Head of Finance
Region: SSA
Duration of job: Indefinite Contract
Reports to: Country Director Nigeria
Pay Band: Senior Leadership Band
Purpose of Job

  • The Head of Finance will have responsibility for all aspects of strategic and operational finance in Nigeria, acting as the finance partner to the Country Director and Nigeria Executive Team.
  • S/he will be responsible for ensuring the finance strategy delivers growth through new business operating models, and conforms to the Council’s financial control standards and the broader corporate and regional objectives, whilst ensuring compliance with local tax and regulatory requirements.
  • He/she will have a broad base of finance experience and have previously led multi-location finance teams.
  • The post holder must also display an understanding of the organisation’s aims and the ability to connect with operational colleagues.
  • Where necessary, he/she will be prepared to roll up their sleeves and support their team in making things happen.
  • The post holder will be a key member of the Nigeria Executive Team, working collaboratively with the UK and regional SSA Finance Teams, and will actively contribute in the design and implementation of regional financial strategy.
  • He/she will be comfortable with a highly visible senior role, during a period of significant organisational change.

British Council Operating Context

  • Nigeria is one of the largest economies in Africa. It is also the most populous country with over 180 million citizens. The UK is its largest trading partner. Nigeria holds significant political power in the region and internationally and its society retains a positive attitude to the UK.
  • Therefore, there continue to be major opportunities for the UK and BC to build on our strong existing relationships with the Nigerian government, institutions and customers/audiences. However, there are complex and substantial risks to this work i.e. security and compliance.
  • Nigeria is the British Council’s largest operation in sub-Saharan Africa with offices in 4 cities – Port Harcourt in the south, Kano in the north, Abuja the Federal capital and Lagos the commercial centre. We also have a number of project offices across the country.
  • Our 200 staff work across a range of states delivering large scale contracts, partnership programmes, examinations, projects as well as services in Arts, Education & Society and English & Exams. We are already achieving substantial impact and income (current annual income is £27.2 million) and have plans to grow and develop our impact further.
  • Partners and clients include government, public and private institutions, foundations, private sector organisations and civil society. We work closely with the wider UK mission including DFID and UKTI.


  • 42% of Nigeria’s population is under 14. The government has recognised that its Vision 2020 must address the aspirations of this young population as part of its drive to achieve peace and prosperity. This has led to unprecedented interest and investment in Education, the Arts and good governance. This alignment with the UK’s priorities creates a growth environment for the British Council.
  • To be successful in this, we need to build understanding with our UK stakeholders of Nigeria as an emerging economy with substantial commercial and development opportunities as well as the challenges they may be more familiar with. In this we will seek to integrate our approach with that of the wider UK mission.
  • We intend to expand and scale up our existing programmes, contracts and services in the Arts, Education & Society, English & Examinations and develop offers to fill important gaps such as in Skills. We also intend to ensure that we have a good balance of partnership, customer services and client funded work across all these sectors.
  • To do all this we need to create the right enabling environment. In addition to developing the professional and technical expertise of our staff, we need to support them to build their relationships within Nigeria, the region and the wider global network. This will ensure we develop as well as adopt and use best practice.
  • We also need rigorous and compliant frameworks to support our work in areas such as finance, tax & status, security, procurement, compliance and quality management. We have new premises in Kano and have a major premises project under development in Abuja. However, there is still more work to be done, especially in Lagos and Port Harcourt to ensure our premises and technology support our brand reputation for integrity, innovation and professionalism.

Accountabilities, Responsibilities and Main Duties
Strategy Development and Implementation: 

  • Lead the development and delivery of the Nigeria Finance strategy working with the Nigeria Executive Team, the regional Finance team and relevant corporate teams.
  • Ensure that a robust financial business plan with agreed targets is developed that reflects the strategic focus for the Nigeria operation.
  • Lead the development and delivery of the Nigeria Tax & Status Business Case ensuring that the operation has the right governance structure to successfully and compliantly deliver its business growth.

Governance and Compliance: 

  • Ensure all Finance and Tax activities are delivered in compliance with and to relevant official standards and governance.
  • Ensure the procurement and management of quality outsourced services for accounting, audit, reporting and tax.
  • Maintain a strong culture of risk management, both within the operation and with partners.
  • Lead in-country organisation, support and response to internal and external audits.

Leadership of the Finance Function: 

  • Provide accurate and timely financial information which supports the Country Director and the Nigeria Executive Team in making business decisions in line with country strategy and which grows the business in a profitable and controlled manner.
  • Ensure the delivery of strategic and operational business planning, forecasting and reporting in partnership with the Nigeria Executive Team.
  • Ensure that SAP and other relevant financial systems are structured and maintained appropriately in line with corporate requirements and business need.
  • Liaison with HR and manage payroll service activities.
  • Ensure all necessary financial documents are archived and stored according to the relevant retention schedules.
  • Ensure that the Fixed Asset Register is completed accurately and monitored on a regular basis.
  • Own the Financial Control and Compliance Framework (FCCF) process and work closely with the Nigeria Executive Team to ensure that all aspects of financial risk are managed rigorously.
  • Support Director Programmes to ensure that effective financial monitoring and reporting is undertaken to British Council, client and/or partner standards.
  • Lead on Treasury and cash flow management for the Nigeria operation.
  • Ensure financial business processes are kept up to date, documented and communicated to staff.
  • Periodically review financial processes to ensure they remain appropriate, customer focused and compliant.
  • Monitor and ensure implementation of changes in Nigerian tax and accounting legislation and ensure any changes required are made to financial and business systems.

Business Development and Growth: 

  • Develop and leverage potential for business growth through high quality financial modelling and commercial costing and pricing strategies.
  • Lead on ensuring all financial aspects of the setting up new products, projects, investments and services e.g. tax and accounting compliance, as well as pricing and costing are addressed.
  • Coordinate advice on financial and legal aspects of commercial negotiations.
  • Ensure effective and efficient delivery of financial services by maximising productivity in financial transactions and support.
  • Ensure the assessment of financial risk and return on market opportunities and any investments in new products and services.

Team Leadership and Management: 

  • Demonstrate effective leadership of Nigeria Finance staff and ensure that line management of staff is to British Council standards.
  • Actively support equality and diversity and work to the British Council’s EO&D policy at all times
  • Ensure that capability and capacity in the Finance team is fit-for-purpose and able to respond flexibly to changes in the portfolio and operating context.
  • Ensure financial training for members of the Finance team and operational staff.
  • Coach and support individuals and teams.
  • Model appropriate leadership styles and British Council behaviours and ensure that staff work in alignment with British Council Values at all times

Country Team Working and Management: 

  • As a member of the Country Management Team (CMT), contribute actively on country level strategy, leadership, policy and decision making.
  • Contribute to ensuring the policies, procedures and systems of the BC are delivered with integrity.
  • Maintain close working relationships with all senior colleagues and exploit collaborative working opportunities e.g. with Arts and Exams to support achievement of impact in Nigeria.
  • Lead Country wide initiatives as agreed e.g. Child Protection, Staff Engagement etc.

Regional and Functional Team Working: 

  • Work closely and effectively as part of the regional and global Finance teams.
  • Support Regional Finance Director in formulating and updating the regional finance strategy.
  • Develop Nigeria as a finance centre of excellence so it can operate as a training hub for the region.
  • Manage the Nigeria relationship with the BC Service Shared Centre, making sure country needs and expectations are met.
  • Identify areas of process improvements and assist in rolling out the improvements in Nigeria and across the Nigeria.
  • Contribute to developing “fit for purpose” systems that reduce bureaucracy and adequately mitigate risks.

Continuous Professional Development:

  • Manage talent and succession planning effectively within the Finance team.
  • Ensure career planning, development planning and continuous professional development are embedded in the Finance team.
  • Engage in professional networks and continuous professional development to ensure that knowledge and expertise are kept updated.

Key Relationships: 

  • Country Director and Nigeria Executive Team
  • Regional finance team
  • Key colleagues in Strategic Business Units (SBUs)
  • Major suppliers including bank and consultancies
  • Tax authorities
  • Relevant colleagues in British High Commission
  • UK based Finance teams
  • British Council Shared Services Centre
  • External & Internal Auditors
  • Corporate Affairs team (Corporate Governance and Legal)

Other important Features or Requirement of the Job: 

  • The post holder will be expected to travel within Nigeria, regionally and more widely. As with any business that experiences peaks and troughs of activity, there is likely to be a need to work outside office hours from time to time.

Person Specification
Behaviours (Essential):

  • Making it Happen – most demanding
  • Being accountable – most demanding
  • Behaviours: Appointees to roles at this level are expected to demonstrate all 6 behaviours. Behaviours will be assessed in the selection process with particular emphasis on:
  • Creating Shared Purpose – Most demanding
  • Actively gain the support of other people and keep them fully engaged to contribute effectively.
  • Clearly state our aims and communicate our purpose in clear and non-technical terms so that others can understand and thus achieve shared clarity.
  • Demonstrate standards of excellence and deliver value for money. Measure progress and adapt plans when necessary.
  • Shaping the future – Most demanding
  • Continually look at ways of improving ways of working and being innovative.
  • Shaping the future – most demanding
  • Creating shared purpose – most demanding
  • Connecting with others – most demanding
  • Working together – most demanding
  • Challenge assumptions and be a forward looking business partner.
  • Being accountable – Most demanding
  • Hold self and others responsible for delivering goals on time and in line with the shared purpose of the Council.
  • Bringing a “can do” attitude and commercial flair to the function
  • Making it happen – Most demanding
  • Deliver quality and timely results, achieve challenging goals and strive for excellence in setting clear and demanding objectives to deliver what is required.

Proven experience of:

  • Leading a team of professionals and working across functions/locations
  • Operating in international and multi-cultural organisations
  • Member of a governance team or Board
  • About ten years of relevant experience in commercial and/or ‘not for profit‘ organisations.


  • Chartered Accountant or equivalent.

Skills and Knowledge:
Core Skills (referenced in the British Council Core Skills Guide): 

  • Managing People – Level 3
  • Managing Finance and Resources – Level 5
  • Managing Risk – Level 3 (Level 4 Desirable)
  • Knowledge of Nigerian Tax and reporting regulatory requirements.
  • Managing Projects – Level 3 (Level 4 Desirable)
  • Communicating and Influencing – Level 5

How to Apply
Interested and qualified candidates should:
Click here to apply 

Click here to download job details (pdf)

Click here to download BC Behaviour (pdf)

Application Deadline  30th September, 2016. 

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