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Centre for Environmental Rights – Advancing Environmental Rights in South Africa

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Head of Operations

Reference No: 10/2022

The closing date (13 January 2023) has passed and applications for this position are now closed.

The Centre for Environmental Rights is recruiting for a Head of Operations to join our Executive Management Team. The Head of Operations is the technical lead for CER’s operational functions.

Ideally based in Cape Town or Johannesburg, this position is for a qualified manager with significant experience in operations management and/or financial management and/or human resources management. The successful candidate will have experience in developing and implementing operational procedures and systems, including human resources, financial and technology integration systems, and understand risk management and compliance.

CER is committed to diversity, inclusion and transformation and strives to reflect South Africa’s racial, cultural, sex and gender diversity within its staff complement. Candidates from historically disadvantaged or marginalised groups are strongly encouraged to apply for this post, and will be preferred.


Cape Town or Johannesburg, subject to negotiation

Qualifications, skills and experience

  • A degree and a relevant professional qualification. A postgraduate qualification in one of the functions overseen by this position will be an advantage.
  • A sensitivity to social issues and to the needs of communities impacted by environmental degradation and injustice, and a passion for social, environmental and climate justice.
  • A broad knowledge and understanding of:
    • operations management and systems, and experience in developing and implementing such systems;
    • strategic financial management, resilience and compliance;
    • principles of and best practice in organisational culture, people management and wellness;
    • IT systems operations and/or infrastructure, including cybersecurity; and
    • risk management and compliance.
  • Aptitude for leadership, and managerial competence: 5-7 years’ experience in a management role, including experience in organisational development and team leadership.
  • Commitment to and experience in implementing diversity, inclusion, and transformation in all aspects of the work, building a value-driven institutional culture, and promoting staff wellness.
  • Competence and experience in strategic planning, monitoring and evaluation.
  • Excellent people management and networking skills.
  • Experience in overseeing resourcing of non-profit organisations and managing donor relationships.

Key responsibilities

Key responsibilities of this position include the following (although we require flexibility from all our staff as our strategic imperatives change and develop over time):

  • General administration: Generally overseeing the smooth and effective running of the CER’s operations.
  • Resourcing and financial resilience and compliance: Supported by the Finance Manager and the Grants & Evaluation Manager, overseeing the strategic financial management, financial resourcing and well-being, sound financial management (financial procedures, systems and controls) and financial resilience, as well as grant administration for the organisation. Acting as staff representative on the Board’s Finance & Audit Committee.
  • Organisational Culture, People Management and Wellness: Supported by the HR & Office Manager, ensuring that CER’s organisational structures, internal policies and staff recruitment give effect to CER’s values and strategic objectives, overseeing and ensuring a resilient and inclusive organisational culture, effective and responsive people and performance management and staff wellness. Mentoring, managing and overseeing the work of Function Heads.
  • Technology Integration: Supported by the HR & Office Manager, overseeing and ensuring adequate technology integration and support for the organisation.
  • Risk management and compliance: Supported by the Finance Manager and the HR & Office Manager, overseeing the maintenance and implementation of an effective risk management strategy, acting as staff representative on the Board’s Risk Committee; and overseeing CER’s legal and governance compliance.

The position reports to the Executive Director. At least three Function Heads report to the Head of Operations, including Finance Manager, Human Resources & Office Manager, and Grants & Evaluation Manager.


The salary range for the position is between R838 756 and R1 134 787 (total cost to company). The salary offered will be dependent on factors that include the qualifications, level of expertise, and experience of the successful candidate. All new staff join our medical aid group scheme with Discovery Health, and the salary package includes a medical aid subsidy. Leave benefits include our 15 working days’ end-of-year break from 17 December every year – which is over and above annual leave; and long leave in the form of a period of 20 working days’ leave every 5 years.

Working for the CER

The Centre for Environmental Rights is a non-profit public interest law organisation of activist lawyers who defend the right of communities and civil society organisations to an environment not harmful to health or wellbeing for present and future generations. Through litigation, advocacy and activist support and training, we seek to advance our vision of a more equal society, free of fossil fuels, in which environmental and climate justice is realised and all people and the planet flourish.

As South Africa’s largest public interest environmental law organisation, we use our expertise and commitment to fight for climate justice and advance the right to a healthy environment for all. We take on the big environmental battles: cases in which we can empower local communities, have an enduring impact, set powerful precedents for other cases, and help improve policy and practice across the country.

Winning the legal case is only part of the battle. CER’s litigation work is strengthened by local training and empowerment, dedicated policy and advocacy work, and strategic communications. In all of our work, we work closely with partners in affected communities, with other civil society organisations in the environmental and social justice sector, and with other public interest law organisations.

We work across the following core themes: Mining, Pollution and Climate Change, Corporate Accountability & Transparency, and Activist Support & Training. We have our main office in Observatory, Cape Town, with a smaller office in Forest Town, Johannesburg.

At CER, we value our staff and regard their wellness and wellbeing as a priority. We are committed to a work environment that is inclusive and empathetic, and in which diversity is celebrated and supported.

How to apply

Please send the following documents to: [email protected] by 13 January 2023, with the email subject line: “CER Head of Operations Application”:

  • A cover letter setting out your skills and relevant experience, as well as why you want to work at the CER in this position;
  • A copy of your CV; and
  • Two recent written references.

Please note that only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.