[Job] Science Museum, PA to @RogerHighfield (COO & Dir, External Affairs), ??25-27k, clos 13 Feb 2012

This is a PA job so there might not be much direct science communication for the post-holder but you’ll be working with Roger Highfield (formerly New Scientist’s editor) at the Science Museum, so not too shabby 🙂


Science Museum
PA to Chief Operating Officer & Director, External Affairs

Posted: 03/02/2012 17:12 Deadline: 13/02/2012 23:59
Salary: ??25,000 – ??27,000 per annum Hours: 35.00
Location: Science Museum – London Benefits: BUPA Medical Cover
Level: Administration Job Type: Full Time – Permanent

Are you an experienced and talented PA with the ability to support two busy company directors? 

If so, this is a wonderful opportunity to work for one of the world’s most prestigious museums, London’s Science Museum. Our vision is to be the best place in the world for people to enjoy science, and we are seeking an experienced and talented Personal Assistant who wants to be part of our ongoing success.

You will provide dedicated support to the Director of External Affairs and the Chief Operating Officer, ensuring the best use of their time and resources. The Science Museum is part of a family of museums called NMSI, which includes the National Railway Museum (York), Museum of Science & Industry (Manchester) and National Media Museum (Bradford). Since both Directors have responsibilities which range across NMSI???s four museums, you must be adept in supporting their activities and stakeholders across different sites.

Your ability to manage multiple Outlook diaries, and co-ordinate busy schedules without foot-fault, must be second-to-none. There are a great many calls in the Directors??? time and attention and you must be able to exercise judgement and tact in monitoring and prioritising these. You will also have access to many diaries and need a good grasp of the Directors??? priorities and the organisational skills to schedule things appropriately.

You will also deal with influential people outside the museum and must be capable of representing the museum in a professional and positive manner and adept at building strong and confident relationships with a wide variety of key stakeholders. Due to the requirement to handle sensitive and confidential issues, you must understand the importance of discretion, and keep the highest level of confidentiality at all times. 

Please take care to read the full job description before you apply.

CLOSING DATE: 23:59 on Monday 13th February 2012


We are working to a tight schedule. Before you apply, please make sure that you will be available on the dates below, since we will not be able to provide alternatives. 

The selection process will be as follows:

Stage 1: Short work-related written test, Monday 20th February
Stage 2: Short interview, Thursday 23rd or Friday 24th February
Stage 3: Second interview, week commencing 27th February, dates to be confirmed

Please note that we will inform you by Friday 17th February if you have been shortlisted to attend Stage 1 on Monday 20th February. 

After each stage, you will be informed promptly if you have been shortlisted for the next stage.

We offer excellent benefits. These include 33 days??? annual leave (including public holidays), BUPA dental and medical cover, an interest-free annual season ticket or bicycle loan and a generous defined-contribution company pension scheme.

We welcome applications from all sections of the community in which we work. We particularly welcome applications from disabled people and we guarantee interviews to suitably qualified disabled applicants. If you believe that you have the skills and ability to perform well in this role, then you are encouraged to apply. Appointments will be made solely on the basis of a fair selection process. 



1.            Purpose of the Job

To provide dedicated support to multiple named Directors (currently Director of External Affairs and Chief Operating Officer), ensuring the best use of their time and effective communications. The Directors supported by the post-holder may be changed when required by operational needs.

There are a great many calls in the Directors??? time and attention and their PA must exercise judgement and tact in monitoring and prioritising these. They also have access to many diaries and need a good grasp of the Directors??? priorities and the organisational skills to schedule things appropriately.

The job holder will also deal with influential people outside the museum and must be capable of representing the museum in a professional and positive manner and adept at building strong and confident relationships with a range of important external stakeholders, including media, sponsors and donors, trustees. They will also b
e handling sensitive and confidential issues and must keep the highest level of confidentiality at all times.

To work as a member of the Executive support team to provide continuity of services for the Executive Team and Executive Office.

2.            Key Deliverables / Accountabilities

??         Organise complex diaries, meetings, events, tours and visits to ensure a smooth running itinerary for the Directors and cost effective hotel and travel arrangements, including overseas travel.

??         Manage the Directors??? correspondence and paperwork (paper and electronic). Draft and prepare outgoing communications. Maintain Directors??? contacts information and filing systems.

??         Organise paperwork for major meetings ensuring the Directors are fully prepared for all meetings and events and has a full understanding of the relevant circumstances.

??         To respond professionally to incoming calls dealing with as many as possible directly to free up Executive time, presenting a positive image to callers.

??         Assist with the organisation of VIP meetings liaising with offices of senior leaders and external stakeholders, such as trustees, donors and DCMS to ensure the events go smoothly.

??         Provide administrative and budget/finance support screening and processing invoices, purchase orders and monitoring and reporting on budgets to ensure that costs are on track.

??         Format, and as directed prepare reports, spreadsheets, presentations and communications to support meetings, events, announcements, roadshows or other initiatives.

??         Welcome to visitors to the Executive office, ensuring their needs are catered for.

??         Edit and disseminate internal communications on behalf of Director through various channels including the NMSI intranet.

??         Collaborate with colleagues to ensure cover for the Executive Office during office hours and the efficient running of the office (e.g. filing systems, stationery, room bookings, incoming mail or calls, and literature) and support other Directors as required. Organising or preparing refreshments for visitors and colleagues when required.

??         Attend and minute meetings and committees as directed, to provide a record of proceedings. Follows up on actions to ensure they have been taken

??         Support Directors with ad-hoc duties e.g. typing reports / letters from manual copy.

??         Take care of your personal health and safety and that of others and report any health and safety concerns. Ensure proactive compliance with NMSI H&S Policies, including risk assessments and implementing safe systems of work.

3.            Working Relationships and Contacts

This role is the first point of contact for all callers and visitors to the Director. A significant amount of contact will require information giving and receiving, but there will be co-ordinating, liaising, influencing and negotiation skills required depending on the request and the people involved.

Internal : all levels of colleagues across the organisation.

External : Trustees, Funders, Government Departments, Committee Members, Unions, professional bodies and the general public

4.            Line Management and budget responsibility

This post does not have line or budget responsibility, but is responsible for monitoring the Directors??? budget including invoicing and purchase orders. This will include submitting purchase orders, submitting expenses and running reports from the Finance system Focal Point (with appropriate training).

5.            Profile of candidate

Knowledge and associated qualifications

  • Excellent numeracy and written skills, good eye for detail e.g. able to track through schedules and budgets and spot problems ahead of time, as well as managing large volumes of material
  • Advanced user of ICT for report, spreadsheet and presentation preparation using the Microsoft Office software suite (PowerPoint, Outlook, Excel and Word). Grasps new technology easily. Experience of using databases would also be an advantage.
  • Able to work independently but within a team framework.
  • Ability to undertake basic research and analysis in diverse fields.


  • Proven track record in working as PA or senior-level secretary to Directors
  • Experience dealing face-to-face with high-level stakeholders
  • Experience maintaining and monitoring complex diaries
  • Experience setting up and organising filing and office systems to permit access by multiple users and tracking of items.
  • Experience organising events and visits, including overseas travel and multiple stakeholders.
  • Experience in a similar role in a busy and demanding environment, preferably (but not necessarily) in the cultural/academic sector.

 Technical/Work based Skills

  • Excellent communication skills, including very high standards of written and spoken English and a good telephone manner.
  • Adept at managing large volumes of information and at mastering the details ranging from financial to archival resources.
  • Excellent inter-personal skills: demonstrable experience of dealing with people at all levels, including creative colleagues, consistently maintaining a professional demeanour. Tact and discretion are important as some matters will be highly sensitive or confidential.
  • Excellent organisational and administrative skills, ability to work to tight deadlines and prioritise correctly and respond flexibly to changing circumstances. Switches up a gear when needed and calm under pressure, does not loose track of the non-urgent.
  • Able to demonstrate an interest in, and appreciation of, the activities, purpose and ethos of the national function, NMSI and its family of museums


??         Service orientated ??? keen to help others and is accommodating.

??         Uses initiative and thinks ahead ??? be able to anticipate needs and identify issues early on

??         Confident in working with senior level personnel

??         Problem solver, focuses on outcomes

??         Bases decisions on evidence

??         Effective teamworker

??         Excellent personal presentation

Please note:

??         This job description is not exhaustive and amendments and additions may be required in line with future changes in policy, regulation or organisational requirements, it will be reviewed on a regular basis.

??         This role is subject to a Disclosure Scotland Check.

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