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Executive Assistant to the Director, Max Roser

The deadline to apply has passed. It was 24 April 2022, 11:59 pm GMT.

Description: Executive assistant to Our World in Data’s director and founder, Max Roser, to assist with internal and external communication, general prioritization, and operations.

Contract type: Full-time, flexible hours.

Place of work: We prefer applicants who are able to work in Oxford (UK). For this you’d need the pre-existing right to work in the UK.1 However, we will consider remote work outside the UK for exceptional candidates. Remote candidates should be able to work in the core business hours in the UK’s timezone (from about 9:30am to 5pm Greenwich Mean Time).

Compensation: £30,000–£47,000 salary per year. Compensation and benefits will be discussed early in the selection process and will depend on your profile and experience.

Application & interview process: We will thoroughly review each application starting on 25 April. Selected candidates will be invited to complete a second-stage exercise, and based on the exercise results we will shortlist candidates for interviews in May.

We encourage you to apply early if possible because it helps us gauge how many candidates we’re reaching. But we don’t want you to rush your application—also helpful would be to send us a quick note now saying that you intend to apply.

Why I am looking for an assistant

by Max Roser

When I started Our World in Data I worked on this project by myself for many years. With time the project has grown, many outstanding people have joined, and today our team is much larger than I ever imagined.

I am extremely grateful and happy about the excellent team that is working with me – it is the best thing that has happened to this project. Together we are able to do much more than I could have ever hoped for when I was working alone.

Tens of thousands of publications rely on OWID every year. Our team’s work is referenced in about 50,000 media articles annually, and now during the pandemic we are producing the datasets and infrastructure that inform billions of people around the world. Millions of people visit OWID every month and our data has an even wider reach because it is used by institutions like Google, the WHO, and the New York Times. In the end it reaches billions of people. Our reach is much larger than I ever imagined.

This amazing growth and visibility of our work has led to a challenging situation for myself. As the director of OWID I am responsible for setting the direction, as well as managing public communications and overseeing the team’s work across research, design, and engineering.

My background is in research, and as a researcher I want to write and do research; but in addition to research I need to spend much of my time on communications, operations and administration. Many researchers, journalists, and policymakers get in touch, but I have hardly any time to consider their requests and offers. And internally it is also challenging for me to be as present and helpful to the team as I would like to be. 

I am very optimistic about the future of our work. There is so much important work that we can do. Our funding situation is solid and the team could not be better.

However, after the rapid growth in recent years my time and energy are a major constraint going forward. This is why I am looking for support. 

That’s what this job is about: I am looking for an Executive Assistant who can support me in terms of internal and external communications, in my writing, in administration and operations, and general prioritization so that the team’s and my work are as useful as possible for those who rely on us.

As my Executive Assistant you will be involved in a wide range of topics and interact with a very diverse group of people. I work with academics, journalists, policymakers, and leaders in nonprofit organizations, tech startups and much more.

In terms of topics, my research interests include the range of topics that OWID covers, with a particular focus on global poverty, data visualization, and the production of open access scientific publications. 

To get an idea for how I think about our work you could read my text about OWID’s mission or listen to my interview on the ‘80,000 Hours’ podcast in which I discussed the history of OWID, the work that the team did during the pandemic, and my vision for what is ahead of us. I hope this gives you some idea of how much I like my work, and why I think this role is important and hopefully also fulfilling and interesting for you.

This is the first time that I am able to look for an assistant and I am excited about it. It would be fantastic to work with a great colleague by my side. Since I have never worked with an assistant before I think that previous experience in an assistant role is desirable; but I am open to hiring someone without this experience.

On our Jobs page we share our thoughts on why applicants might be excited to join our team, and below we explain in more detail the responsibilities, opportunities, and skills that we are looking for with this role. 


Responsibilities

Prioritization and productivity

There is very large demand for our work at OWID and our director needs to decide how to allocate his attention and time across many projects.

A key responsibility for the Executive Assistant will be to help prioritize areas of work for the director and organize his daily activities in an efficient way.

You will develop a good understanding of Max’s priorities and support him in the prioritization of competing internal and external opportunities.

  • Internal opportunities include tasks related to research, strategy, funding, team building and hiring, design and product development, and more.
  • External opportunities include advising researchers and major donors, responding to requests for policy advice, publishing articles or books, a large number of possible collaborations, speaking engagements, and writing academic articles.
Assisting with writing, data visualization, and research

In his work as a researcher and author, Max will need support with basic research assistance tasks and with copy-editing for articles, essays, book chapters, etc. 

He will also need support to coordinate and follow up on more complex research-support tasks that he will delegate to other colleagues in the OWID team.

Internal communication management

As the director, Max is in charge of setting the direction on all aspects related to our product development and strategy. This includes reviewing the work from others in the team and making sure that all the work from the different sub-teams within OWID fits together, so that we move forward and achieve our mission.

In this context, as Executive Assistant you will have the responsibility of helping organize internal communications between Max and others in the team, so that these back-and-forth feedback iterations are as effective and efficient as possible. This includes:

  • Prioritizing which work from the team needs Max’s feedback.
  • Managing and following up on the tasks that Max delegates to others in the team.
  • Planning, coordinating and keeping the content of meetings focused.
  • Preparing and organizing team events, including the list of guests.
  • Reporting internal data to monitor the success metrics for specific projects.
External communications and email

Our director receives many emails every day both from researchers who are interested in collaborations and from partners we have ongoing projects with. On top of this there are many requests from researchers and the media, and invitations to talks and conferences. Many of these emails are very relevant and interesting, but currently Max is not able to give them the attention they deserve. As his Executive Assistant you will screen and prioritize incoming emails and coordinate timely responses to relevant requests and invitations.

To do this successfully, you are expected to:

  • Learn the key objectives of the organization and determine which invitations and requests are relevant to reach those objectives.
  • Proactively screen, organize, and prioritize external communications.
  • Draft replies, as well as produce and manage template emails to help deal with recurring queries.
  • Monitor social media, handle media requests and support Max in public-facing activities, especially preparing for talks, interviews and presentations.
  • Engage in outreach and promotion of new OWID publications (e.g., by implementing creative ideas to make sure our work reaches those who can benefit from it).
Calendar management

As Executive Assistant you will be responsible for helping Max with his calendar and appointments. This will include:

  • Scheduling and supporting meetings within the team and with external partners.
  • Making accurate decisions to delegate or redirect critical issues when Max is unavailable.
  • Organizing logistics for short travel, as well as more complex academic visits and travel. 
Operations and administration

At OWID we have two people leading operations and administration: Esteban Ortiz-Ospina is our Head of Strategy and Operations as well as the Executive co-director of our nonprofit, Global Change Data Lab. Valerie Rogers Muigai is our Operations and Finance Manager. As Executive Assistant you will work closely with them, providing support with specific administrative tasks:

  • Supporting the organization of some team events (meetings, workshops, etc.).
  • Organizing Max’s expense claims.
  • Helping with specific payments and purchases (e.g., office supplies, etc.).
  • Supporting recruitment and hiring processes.
  • Supporting other management tasks on specific projects, as required.

Required skills: Who will thrive in this role?

Proactive and resourceful: This is a new position and Max has never had an assistant before. This means that to achieve the goals of this role, you will have to help define it by being proactive and taking initiative. This is also important because OWID is unique and we are building something that no one else is building. We have to regularly come up with new ideas for how to do our work and innovate. Someone who is a pragmatic problem-solver will enjoy this job.

Organized and able to prioritize: In our work we prioritize quality over speed and it is rare that things need to happen extremely fast. But we are a small team that gets many requests and at times we have many things going on at the same time. This means that you will only be successful in this job if you are very well organized and learn how to lay out clear plans for what needs to be done and when.

Strong communication skills: You will be a great fit for this job if you are a friendly, tactful, and clear communicator. This is true for both internal and external communications. One aspect that makes our work so interesting is that we have great relationships internally and with many external partners. Maintaining these relationships and expanding them further through clear and friendly communications is crucial for our work.

Strong English writing skills: All our work is in English, yet Max and many of us in the team are non-native speakers. You will be expected to provide support with copy-editing and writing, and you will need to have excellent writing skills.

Mission-driven: We believe that working to produce a public good that helps people around the world is important and inspiring. If you see the value of building a global public good that informs the world about large problems to help solve them, then we think that you will enjoy this job.

Conscientious and eager to learn: We expect everyone in the team to have a desire to do our work extremely well, and to take their obligations to others seriously. We also care about curiosity and a desire to learn and improve. We are happy if you ask a lot of questions and if you are someone who wants to learn, so that you understand better what others do and so that you can do your work better.

Comfortable working with data: You don’t have to have a very strong quantitative background, but you should feel comfortable reading data-heavy documents and reports, interpreting charts, and working with spreadsheets.

Supportive: At OWID we want to create jobs that are enjoyable and meaningful, and we believe this requires creating a supportive environment for everyone in our team. We also place great emphasis on creating conditions that are compatible with both our professional and personal lives. This means our team’s hours are flexible enough to ensure that those of us with children can manage pick-up, drop-off, sicknesses, and the regular responsibilities that come with everyday life.

Comfortable working remotely: We are mostly a remote team distributed around the world, and the vast majority of our communication happens via video calls and tools like Slack and Notion. Though several on the team do live in Oxford and London and co-work from time to time. If you live in Oxford and you want to work from our office, this is possible.

How to apply

Email us at jobs@ourworldindata.org with the subject line “Executive Assistant” and include:

  • Your CV or resume.
  • A completed Initial Submission Exercise, as described below. Completing the exercise is a required part of the application. Incomplete applications will not be considered.

If possible, please mention in your email how or where you came across this job advert.

You can email us (to the same address) if you have any questions about this role, the initial submission exercise, or the application process more generally.

Initial Submission Exercise

Purpose of exercise and our expectations

We have designed the following two-part exercise to learn more about you and to help us understand if you are a good match for this role.

For this position we are looking for quite a specific profile: someone who understands our mission very well, who is a great communicator, and who is resourceful, proactive, and eager to learn. We also need someone who is organized, who puts great attention to detail, and who is good at executing operational and administrative tasks.

For a candidate with these interests and skills, we’d expect this exercise to take at most a couple of hours to complete.

We certainly recognise that this is not a trivial time investment. Our aim with this process is to save candidates’ time overall. This initial exercise will allow candidates to signal a particular combination of skills and interests from the outset rather than much later on in the recruitment process.

Part 1: Tell us about yourself and your understanding of our work
  • Why do you want to work with us and why do you think you are the right candidate for this job? (maximum 400 words)
  • What do you think are our biggest opportunities for the next 5 years? (maximum 400 words)
  • What do you think is the single biggest challenge or institutional risk for OWID in the next 5 years? (maximum 400 words)

Note: You may find it helpful to read this essay about our mission and explore our About page before you answer the questions.

Part 2: Written task

Suppose a large philanthropic foundation in the UK is being launched, and this new foundation has the stated goal of “supporting data efforts that are useful for Global Priorities research.”

  • Please write an email to the director of this new foundation, explaining how OWID fits their stated goal.
    In your email please also ask for a meeting, so that our Director, Max Roser, can tell them more about our work and explore opportunities for funding and collaboration.