Chief Executive Officer

London, UK
Posted 2 weeks ago

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The British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA) is the professional body for zoos and aquariums throughout Britain and Ireland. The BIAZA membership, currently over 120 members, represents the diversity of zoos and aquariums in Britain and Ireland and this diversity is a strength of BIAZA’s brand. BIAZA leads and supports its members and helps to promote the work of good zoos and aquariums. BIAZA believes that the natural world is intrinsically precious and that zoos and aquariums, through the association, should be a powerful force in the care and conservation of the natural world. BIAZA is committed to being a progressive association.

The BIAZA Office is operates with seven staff (including the CEO). The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) has six direct reports. BIAZA has charitable status and is governed by a Council composed of the Chairs of the Standing Committees and representatives of the Members. The Council also has representatives of the Associate Membership and the British Veterinary Zoological Society. BIAZA is funded by the membership and normally has an annual income of around £430,000 (see below for link to Annual Report 2018).

Much of the work of BIAZA is carried out on a voluntary basis by the members, through the standing committees and associated working groups, in line with BIAZA’s strategy. The BIAZA Office is responsible for the day-to-day running of the Association, coordinating and facilitating the work of the standing committees, and moving forward on priority work streams.

BIAZA has steadily progressed over the last decade and more, building on previous strengths. There are a range of challenges and opportunities coming up over the next few years which BIAZA must be prepared to meet in order to support the membership. The global COVID-19 pandemic has been the biggest single challenge to the zoo and aquarium sector in many decades. Within a matter of days, BIAZA transformed itself to focus heavily on lobbying government for specific support for the sector, as well as on communications and technical support for the membership. The next year and beyond will require a focus on helping our members to recover from this crisis. In addition, BIAZA has started to develop a new strategy that was supposed to begin in 2021, drawing on the CBD post 2020 framework and the UN Sustainable Development Goals to establish a stronger bond with the wider conservation community. The strategy discussions were postponed due to the pandemic and will resume with the new CEO.

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The Role

The new CEO is a charismatic and inspirational leader with a strong empathy for BIAZA’s mission and prepared to work in close partnership with the BIAZA membership to deliver it. The ideal candidate has senior leadership experience. S/he is entrepreneurial and strategic and able to articulate a clear vision and strategy for the Association and lead the team to deliver it. S/he is an engaging communicator with the right mix of gravitas and passion to represent BIAZA effectively and build constructive relationships with a wide range of stakeholders.

BIAZA’s Vision

To be a powerful force in the care and conservation of the natural world.

BIAZA’s Mission

BIAZA is a professional organisation which represents its members and promotes the values of good zoos and aquariums. We lead and support our members:

  • to inspire people to help conserve the natural world
  • to participate in effective cooperative conservation programmes
  • to deliver the highest quality environmental education, training and research
  • to achieve the highest standards of animal care and welfare in zoos, aquariums and in the wild.

Job Description

The role of Chief Executive Officer (CEO) provides leadership to the BIAZA staff and the membership.

This position is responsible for the day-to-day management of the BIAZA Office and BIAZA Office staff, and reports directly to the Chair of BIAZA Council.

The successful candidate will be able to communicate effectively both internally to the membership, and externally. This role requires experience in presenting complex and involved subjects to a wide range of audiences including the membership, press, political bodies and professional associations.

The CEO will coordinate the political work of the Association, working to maintain strong relationships within the political forums of the UK (including its Devolved Governments and Crown Dependencies) and Ireland. They will be comfortable working at an EU level to ensure strong representation for Ireland, and excellent working relationships with the rest of Europe. The CEO will seek to influence decision makers, raise subjects of importance to the membership at civil service and political levels (including asking questions in Parliament and facilitating Adjournment Debates) and promote the work of the BIAZA membership. They will be expected to comment on and answer consultation enquiries on issues pertinent to the zoo and aquarium communities with local government, national government and EU level, drawing on the expertise of the Standing Committees as needed. In addition, the CEO of BIAZA will be actively involved with Westminster’s All Party Parliamentary Group for Zoos and Aquariums.

The CEO will represent the Association in a number of fora including relevant government departments and agencies in the UK and Ireland, parliaments and the IUCN (at National and International level) as well as other zoo associations including EAZA and WAZA. The CEO will also be expected to take on relevant roles within these other associations.

The CEO will develop a range of partnerships, and demonstrate effective project management within these partnerships, to further the work of the Association in achieving our mission and strategy.

The CEO will be responsible for organising and hosting a range of events for the membership and beyond. These will include technical conferences, AGMs, and political interest events as well as other networking events within the membership.

The CEO has responsibility for ensuring that the financial operations of the Association are compliant with relevant legislation and transparent to the membership. The CEO also has responsibility to meet the requirements of the Charity Commission in terms of relevant legislation.

BIAZA operates through a small office team and there may be additional duties outside the main responsibilities of this role.


  • Lead the BIAZA Office and its staff in the achievement of the mission and vision of the Association
  • Advise and support BIAZA Council in fulfilment of their responsibilities
  • Communicate effectively both internally and externally to the BIAZA membership and other stakeholders
  • Build a strong working relationship with the Chair of BIAZA Council, advising, updating and responding as appropriate
  • Develop and implement the rolling five-year strategic plan as agreed by Council, in consultation with Council and the relevant Committees as appropriate
  • Respond, with the support of BIAZA’s Senior Officer for Communications and Public Affairs, to media enquiries with interviews in a range of media types, and proactively elicit media attention to the work of BIAZA and its membership
  • Drive the political work of the Association to achieve and maintain positive relationships with political decision makers and legislative implementers (e.g. Defra, NPWS), influence government policy and support delivery of the Association’s objectives
  • Ensure the maintenance of effective relationships with other zoo associations, particularly EAZA and WAZA, and represent the BIAZA membership at these associations
  • Ensure legislative compliance is maintained, particularly in terms of finance and charity governance
  • Ensure a sustainable financial position for BIAZA and develop and deliver a long-term financial strategy which supports delivery of the mission
  • Ensure the membership is effectively represented at relevant meetings and groups such as the Zoos Expert Committee
  • Ensure the management and needs of the BIAZA Office staff are met
  • Ensure the Association continues to progress through staff capacity and organisational development to meet the needs of the membership in a changing political and conservation landscape

Working Arrangements

The position of Chief Executive Officer is a full time permanent position based in the UK (currently in London). There may be some weekend and out of hours work as required, for example, at conferences and events.

There is a holiday allowance of 25 days a year pro-rata.

The salary offered is competitive with regard to the scope and responsibilities of the position, and will be dependent on the background and experience of the candidate.

Personal Specifications

BIAZA is a dedicated team of staff and a large community of members, working together to progress the mission and objectives of the Association for the benefit of the UK and Irish zoo and aquarium community. The successful applicant must be inspirational and passionate about BIAZA’s mission, be a good communicator with a dynamic nature and strong teamworking skills. The successful applicant must also be prepared to undertake substantial travel to the membership and meetings, including visits around member sites.



  • Significant senior leadership experience, preferably at Director level, in a diverse and complex organisation
  • Recent experience at a senior level in influencing government policy
  • Successful track record in building and maintaining high performance teams
  • Exceptional communication and listening skills and the ability to present complex and involved subjects to a wide range of audiences; excellent public speaking skills
  • An ability to project-manage a process to further the development of standards within the BIAZA membership
  • Excellent ability to work collaboratively and to deal with sensitive and confidential information
  • Excellent interpersonal skills and ability to work effectively with the diversity of the BIAZA membership, including experience in working with Boards and Committees
  • Significant experience of developing strategies based on evidence and evaluation of options; experience with facilitation processes would be advantageous
  • An awareness of the zoo community and the complexity of issues associated with an accreditation system


  • Media training and experience in dealing with sensitive subjects in the media (including social media)
  • Experience with financial management and auditing
  • Experience with charity law and charity governance
  • Experience with the political systems and groups represented within the BIAZA region e.g., Westminster, the Devolved Governments, the Crown Dependencies, the Irish Government and the EU
  • A knowledge of the zoo and aquarium community, the Zoo Expert Committee and the relevant zoo legislation in both the UK and Ireland (and by default the EU)
  • Experience with the current zoo licensing system in the UK and Ireland and/or the EAZA accreditation scheme, or from other similar associations
  • Experience with fundraising and grant applications

Job Features

Job CategoryNGO
LocationLondon, UK
Contract TypePermanent
Closing Date5th September 2020

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Job Features

Job CategoryNGO
LocationLondon, UK
Contract TypePermanent
Closing Date5th September 2020

Apply Online

Martine Billanou

Associate Executive Research Consultant - Europe