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Top job! Mission Manager – A Sustainable Future

  • Full time
  • £50,000 – £62,000
  • Edinburgh, Scotland
  • Closing 20th February 2023

  • Advertised from 26th January 2023
  • Permanent
  • plus excellent benefits


We are Nesta, the UK’s innovation agency for social good. We design, test and scale solutions to society’s biggest problems. Our three missions are to give every child a fair start, help people live healthy lives, and create a sustainable future where the economy works for both people and the planet.

For over 20 years, we have worked to support, encourage and inspire innovation. We work in three roles: as an innovation partner working with frontline organisations to design and test new solutions, as a venture builder supporting new and early stage businesses, and as a system shaper creating the conditions for innovation.

Harnessing the rigour of science and the creativity of design, we work relentlessly to change millions of lives for the better. Find out more at

Our Sustainable Future Mission

Our mission is to accelerate the decarbonisation of household activities in Scotland and across the UK and improve levels of productivity.

In Scotland, 78% of homes use mains gas to heat their homes. To meet the Scottish Government's 2030 and 2045 carbon emissions reduction targets, heat pump installations need to double every year from now until 2030. Our mission to help decarbonise how we heat our homes in Scotland offers unique opportunities; a more favourable policy environment and a larger social housing stock mean that we can potentially work more closely with the Scottish Government, national agencies and housing providers to test and scale innovative approaches to make change happen. Our impact plan for Scotland has a particular focus on exploring how we can harness social innovation methods to help evidence and scale skills and training opportunities for the provision of low carbon heating in Scotland.

Our goal is that by 2030 the UK will have reduced household emissions by 20 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.

The role

This role leads on the scoping, design and delivery of Nesta’s work in Scotland on our Sustainable Future mission. You will work proactively to deliver active projects as well as develop a pipeline of partnerships, collaborations and business development opportunities in support of our Sustainable Future mission in Scotland.

You'll take what you know from your existing experience of social innovation and/or low carbon heating to scope innovative projects to help achieve our mission goals. You'll lead on recruiting Scottish partners to work with to test those ideas, drawing from your existing networks in the field.

You will work with our Head of Nesta Scotland (based in Edinburgh) and Mission Director (based in London) as well as colleagues across Nesta’s innovation practices - such as data science, design and behavioural science) to pull together multi-disciplinary teams to help improve local outcomes in our mission area and deliver demonstrable impact.

As the point person for this mission in Scotland, this is definitely a role for someone who likes getting their hands dirty and can proactively combine scoping, researching and doing.

As a bridge between Nesta in Scotland and the central Sustainable Future mission team, this position will play a critical role in establishing effective ways of working between Nesta’s missions and the team in Scotland, working with the rest of the mission team to ensure the ASF mission has a strong presence in Scotland and that learning from projects in the rest of the UK informs our work in Scotland, and vice versa.

Alongside these core duties you will have the opportunity to support the mission more broadly, either through delivery of projects across the UK and/or through working as a mission representative for critical organisational priorities such as Nesta’s commitment to Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.

This role will be expected to:

  • Lead on the design and delivery of practical innovation projects within this mission field in Scotland.
  • Direct and work on the end-to-end project cycle, for example:
    • Overseeing, conducting, and reviewing the outputs of primary research. For example: interviews, observations, data analysis.
    • Leading on the establishment of a project theory of change to explain how an intended outcome would be achieved through a particular solution.
    • Leading on identifying, shortlisting, testing, and selecting appropriate solutions for implementation and evaluation.
    • Working with colleagues from Nesta’s various practices to devise an appropriate evaluation design for any solutions being implemented and ensuring the technical details are fit for purpose in the local operating context.
    • Coaching partners through each innovation or prototyping cycle and the wider change needed inside the organisation to make it successful.
    • Owning relationships with stakeholders sponsoring the project and making sure they value and enjoy working with Nesta.
  • Work with the UK wide Mission Director and Deputy Directors, as well as Head of Nesta Scotland, to scope new projects for this mission in Scotland and set up effective teams to deliver this work. This includes scoping and agreeing the formal, technical parameters for each project (e.g. budget, team, deliverables), as well as building an effective culture for delivering the project (e.g. joining up well with central Mission team colleagues in London and building effective and impactful ways of working).
  • Represent Nesta’s sustainable future mission to external audiences in Scotland including to stakeholders and the media
  • Critically assess whether live projects are on track, and suggest / put in place mechanisms to realign the work plan as necessary.
  • Quickly get to grips with the Scotland specific context that mission projects take place in. Working across a variety of projects means you will need to be able to develop contextual competence fast and build effective working relationships with key local partners and stakeholders.
  • Proactively develop a pipeline of partnerships, collaborations or business development opportunities in support of this mission in Scotland
  • Provide line management to team members, both permanent staff and other team members who are part of the project on a temporary basis as needed/required. This includes delegation and oversight of work, as well as personal and professional development.

Minimum qualifications

  • At least three years’ experience delivering relevant programmes, projects or research work specifically and directly in Scotland in areas related to our A Sustainable Future mission focus.
  • A detailed understanding of the Scottish operating environment in relation to the Sustainable Future mission.
  • Experience in the practice or policy context for our Sustainable Future mission - E.g. good knowledge of the low carbon heating sector in Scotland, understanding of Scotland’s heat in buildings strategy, green skills agenda or the wider focus on the policy and practical implications and opportunities of the national agenda of a just transition to net zero by 2045 in Scotland.
  • Project/ programme management skills: you can proactively plan work, execute against the plan, identify and act on risks and issues, ensure that key stakeholders are engaged throughout, and keep track of spend against budget.
  • A proven track record of delivering high impact projects and programmes using innovation methods and/or familiarity working with agile project management methodologies.
  • Stakeholder management skills: you can present ideas persuasively and navigate complex stakeholder discussion to keep focussed on impact, maintain project momentum, build strong working relationships, and drive better work through including more voices in the planning, designing, delivery and criticism of it.
  • Ability to proactively develop a pipeline of business development partnerships or collaborations opportunities in support of this mission in Scotland
  • Ability to build contextual competence quickly (e.g. learn what key jargon means, be credible in conversation with stakeholders, understand what is measured and what is important) quickly.

Preferred qualifications

  • Facilitation skills, e.g. leading workshops and public speaking
  • Research skills: you understand the fundamentals of exploratory research and evaluation. For example, you can interpret research findings, understand common statistics (such as standard deviation, confidence intervals, p values, and correlation coefficients), assess the strength of evidence for something, understand good practice for key research activities (such as interviewing)and analyse data sets to pull out key summary statistics and trends
  • Excellent writing skills to tailor content to different audiences
  • Comfortable working alongside and commissioning colleagues with skills in behavioural science; design thinking; data science; arts and culture methods.

What we offer

Salary: £50k-£62k plus array of benefits, including health cash plans, dental insurance, the ability to buy and sell annual leave, eyecare vouchers and more

Location: This role is based in Scotland, Edinburgh - hybrid working arrangement. This role is based out of Nesta’s Edinburgh office. We offer flexible working to fit around your personal commitments or lifestyle (including part time hours, compressed hours and early start/early finish days etc) as well as remote working for part of the week (full time until the pandemic ends), so you could be based anywhere but we would likely expect you to work at least 2 days a week in our Edinburgh office, and up to 2 days a month in our London HQ.

Hours:This is a full-time role but we offer a range of flexible working arrangements and encourage our people to take advantage of them. Many do.

Reports to:Head of Nesta Scotland

Application notes

To apply for this role, please submit your application before 8:00am on the 20th of February 2023.

Interviews will take place w/c 27th of February 2023.

Application link:

At Nesta, we believe that a diverse workforce leads to an organisation that is more innovative, more creative and gets better results.

We want our workforce to represent the diversity of the people and communities we serve. We also want our workplace to be one where different experiences, expertise and perspectives are valued, and where everyone is encouraged to grow and develop.

This means that when we are recruiting, we actively seek to reach a diverse pool of candidates. It also means that we are happy to consider any reasonable adjustments that potential employees may need to in order to be successful.

We recognise the importance of a good balance between work and home life, so we do everything we can to accommodate flexible working, including working from home, compressed or part-time hours, job shares and other arrangements.

Please just let us know in your application or at any stage throughout the process (and beyond) if these are options you’d like to explore.