Call for applications for the position of GCRO executive director

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The Gauteng City-Region Observatory (GCRO) is a partnership between the University of Johannesburg (UJ), the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg (Wits), the Gauteng provincial government and organised local government. Since its formation in 2008 the GCRO has established itself as an important voice within the field of urban studies, both in South Africa and internationally. Gauteng accommodates almost a quarter of South Africa’s population and is one of the most important economies on the continent; the GCRO has championed the value of thinking regionally about the province’s urban settlements. It is positioned at the interface of government (provincial and local) and academia, with a mandate to provide independent policy support and ongoing academic research on the processes that are shaping the Gauteng City-Region.

The GCRO is now in its third five-year planning cycle and has funding and board approval for a range of research priorities. It has grown to include 16 research staff and three administrative staff, besides the executive director. It is seeking to appoint a high-calibre researcher and manager to be the executive director and to lead it.

Reporting to the GCRO board, the executive director will be expected, inter alia, to:

  • oversee the execution and delivery of GCRO’s mandate and projects. This entails being responsible for ensuring the high quality and impact of GCRO’s research processes and outputs on a wide variety of topics, using both qualitative and quantitative methods;
  • manage an active and productive relationship with GCRO’s partner universities, and provincial and local governments;
  • provide strategic leadership in the further growth and development of the organisation;
  • manage the day-to-day operations of the GCRO including finances, staff and human resources, in accordance with the policies adopted by the board, and in line with the Public Finance Management Act and rules governing the host institutions (Wits and UJ);
  • harness and support the existing capacities of research staff members in further developing their research and academic profiles; and
  • act as the public face of the GCRO and maintain existing local and international partnerships while also forging new ones.

Applications will be accepted from candidates who:    

  • have a doctorate in a relevant field, or a commensurate track record of accomplishment and leadership in research-related domains;
  • have a substantial track record in research and publishing in fields that overlap with GCRO’s thematic interests;
  • are comfortable with academic, applied and policy-relevant research, and a proven ability to work constructively with partners in government, academia and civil society;
  • have the ability to lead and manage a skilled group of researchers working on multiple projects simultaneously; and
  • have a distinguished track record of leadership, organisational management, administration and financial management. 


This appointment will be on contract with an attractive remuneration package. Conditions of service that apply will be revealed to the successful candidate at the time of appointment. GCRO reserves the right not to make an appointment.


To apply, submit a covering letter together with a detailed curriculum vitae that includes the name, address and contact details (as well as email addresses) of three contactable referees, and certified copies of degrees/diplomas (certified copies should not be older than three months) by registering your profile on the Wits I-Recruitment platform located at and submitting your application.

Short-listed applicants may be required to do a presentation and submit a one-page statement in addition to an interview.

Contact: Applications and enquiries should be emailed to Melinda Swift, [email protected] (phone +27-82-563-8992).

Closing date:  June 30 2020

Individuals from previously disadvantaged population groups are encouraged to apply. The university reserves the right not to appoint if suitable candidates are not found.

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