Location: Muscat, Middle East and North Africa, OM
Company: British Council
The British Council builds connections, understanding and trust between people in the UK and other countries through arts and culture, education and the English language. We work in two ways – directly with individuals to transform their lives, and with governments and partners to make a bigger difference for the longer term, creating benefit for millions of people all over the world. We help young people to gain the skills, confidence and connections they are looking for to realise their potential and to participate in strong and inclusive communities. We support them to learn English, to get a high-quality education and to gain internationally recognised qualifications. Our work in arts and culture stimulates creative expression and exchange and nurtures creative enterprise. We connect the best of the UK with the world and the best of the world with the UK. These connections lead to an understanding of each other’s strengths and of the challenges and values that we share. This builds trust between people in the UK and other nations which endures even when official relations may be strained. We work on the ground in more than 100 countries. In 2019-20 we connected with 80 million people directly and with 791 million overall, including online and through our broadcasts and publications.
Contract Duration: 2 years (renewable) Location: Muscat, Oman Pay Band F/7 Closing date: 5 June 2021
The purpose of this role is to set a three year Examinations strategy to deliver income and surplus for Oman aligning with Global Exams and MENA Regional strategy, working with other British Council colleagues to leverage opportunities and create value. This role is ultimately responsible for building and managing demand, ensuring capacity fill, delivering income/surplus targets, ensuring excellent B2B Customer Service and overseeing quality of B2C customer experience in Oman. As the most senior Exams representative in Country, this role will provide overall leadership for the exams team and also sit on the Country Senior Management Team and oversee performance & team working of Exams on the ground.
It is envisaged that this will take up to 20% of role focus.
Function and Geopolitical Overview
MENA Examinations Our Examinations work focuses on providing access to high quality UK qualifications to MENA customers, thereby facilitating the building of relationships with our target audiences. The MENA South Exams portfolio is of vital importance to the British Council in terms of both the impact and the income it generates for the organisation. UAE is among the top 10 exams businesses in the network by surplus. MENA South examinations work encompasses English products such as IELTS, Aptis (the BC Test), School exams, and a wide range of academic and professional qualifications. Dubai as a single Examinations centre probably engages with largest number of Examination boards in the world.
The British Council’s core offers in MENA South are large teaching and examinations operations, together with a range of interventions in higher education and arts. We have 5 teaching centres in UAE (Abu Dhabi, Dubai Sharjah, Doha and Muscat), with differing and diverse demographics and consequently separate markets and challenges. We administered over 160,000 exams to over 110,000 candidates in 2019-20. The UAE, Qatar and Oman examinations operation will have one integrated operations team across four centres and an increased focus on business development and account management, which is key to the GNOME approach (Global New Operating Model for Exams).
Politics/Population/Economics: There are deep historical ties between the Middle East and North Africa and the region remains critically important for UK security and prosperity as well as a high priority for the British Council.
The region is currently blighted by conflict and instability, rooted in the geopolitical struggle between regional powers and weakening of the social contract between governments and their populations. The Iran-Saudi and Shia-Sunni conflict is playing out in Syria, Iraq and Yemen, and is having a huge impact more widely in the region. It shows no sign of abating. The breakdown in the social contract that drove the 2011 anti-government uprisings has occurred due to a number of longstanding barriers to political, economic and social progress such as:
Dominance of ruling monarchies, authoritarian regimes, and limited democratic institutions.
Exclusion of young people from political processes and few opportunities for them to express themselves freely.
A very young demographic and mounting youth unemployment at 30%, twice the global average.
Poorly performing education systems and low learning outcomes against international benchmarks.
Inequality of opportunity for women; most development indicators show that women have an increasing participation in education but are under-represented in economic and political life.
An under-developed sense of citizenship and weak civil society.
An economic model heavily dependent on oil. Lower oil prices are already having an impact on the social contract in the Gulf
This role represents a significant change in the way that we manage examinations in MENA and globally. The core focus is to develop the IELTS, Aptis, and Schools businesses, extending reach, enhancing customer and partner support and service, developing new markets, counteracting and pre-empting competition. The regional IELTS partnership programme is a key initiative designed to add value to existing relationship and safeguard the business. There is a significant element of external stakeholder management in exams markets around the group – Oman has important relationships with UK exam boards government organisations and specifically Ministries of Education.
This role provides leadership in the geography to the Exams team. Leads our strategy and adapts our offer to suit the changing market needs. Has a deep understanding of the local market and feeds into planning for capacity based on shifting demand. The person consistently has an oversight of business performance and keeps business development resource close to the market. Co-ordinates with Marketing to ensure the delivery of our strategy and market insight is constantly refreshed
The main challenges are to protect and secure the position of IELTS within the Oman Education sector. Develop the IELTS business, extending reach and enhancing customer experience & partner support. Market share and market split are the key challenges which face severe competition.
A secondary challenge is to maintain and develop the schools and professional qualifications business through relationship-building, maintenance and value-added support for Ministry of Education and awarding bodies and diversifying to new products like the British Council Tests.
Adding value to key accounts in a competitive environment
Motivating and driving team performance
Achieving sales targets
Upholding a customer service excellence culture
Assess market, Identify market opportunities/needs using marketing insights to develop & deliver audience led BD & Sales strategy, priorities & plan;
Lead contribution into Demand Planning, achieving high levels of sales forecasting accuracy and embed Global framework at Country/Geography level;
Agree Marketing Plan and review effectiveness;
Agree Customer Services requirements and review effectiveness
Lead and embed excellent Business Pursuit and Account Relationship Management aligned with Global/Regional frameworks
Manage and review effectiveness of partnership (agency) model and input into physical foot print strategy.
Deliver income/surplus targets, working with Operations on commercial feasibility.
Effective Team performance and new ways of working on the ground and lead empowerment/decision making at the right level
Provides feedback and implements plans and targets for products/services relative to Market need with Commercial Development Manager and with business pursuit as primary focus.
Undertakes financial monitoring, narrative reporting and reforecasting
Manages Exams SM&OP (Sales Marketing & Operations Planning) team activities to meet (daily/weekly/monthly) agreed targets, schedules and deadlines
Delivers income and margin surplus targets, ensuring new and existing business is operationally feasible and commercially sound working with Finance input/support
Market and customer intelligence
Pulls together and provides Customer and Market intelligence to identify opportunities and works with Commercial Manager to prioritise lead generation
Analyses clients’ needs and tailors value propositions with expert support where needed. Input into Global Innovation and Business Development strategies working with Cluster Commercial Manager
Enables commercial team in country to pursue sales and account management activities and advising on overcoming obstacles.
Undertakes regular quality checks and reviews, following agreed corporate or relevant external protocols, to monitor the quality, consistency and effectiveness of service/product delivery.
Makes recommendations on procedural improvements, resource requirements and other operational initiatives to drive enhance team performance, cost effectiveness, service quality and efficiency
Leadership and management
Motivates and encourages team performance.
Plans and prioritises country’s operational activities, and supports team development towards effective delivery of services
Contributes and o the CLT (Country Leadership Team) and provides
Account and stakeholder management
Business Pursuit, RO influencing, networking and key account relationships plan and delivery agreed with Cluster Lead and with relevant colleagues on shared opportunities
Identifies and shares examples of process/procedural best practice with colleagues in the country/region to drive continuous improvement in key account management and stakeholders.
Oversees quality of customer experience on the ground, reviewing with Operations Manager and feeding into reporting
Analysis & reporting
Provides updates on B2B/Sales forecast, actively manages pipeline and drives demand in year and for the following year.
Qualification & Experience:
Bachelor Degree in relevant field
Fluency in English is essential
Fluency in Arabic is desirable
Professional Qualification in Management or Marketing is an advantage
3 years of experience in managing a team
Business development experience in the Education sector
Demonstrates the ability to sustain and/or grow a product/service in line with strategic priorities for income and impact
Experience collecting and analyzing client/stakeholder feedback and using the data to identify business needs and obstacles; works to resolve them.
Proven experience working closely with government authorities
Detailed knowledge of UK examinations and qualifications.
Understanding of professional development training
A connected and trusted UK in a more connected and trusted world.
The British Council is committed to a policy of equality and to valuing diversity and is keen to reflect the diversity of the societies in which we work at every level within the organisation. We welcome applications from all sections of the community. We aim to abide by and promote equality legislation by following both the letter and the spirit of it to avoid unjustified discrimination, recognising discrimination as a barrier to equality of opportunity, inclusion and human rights. All staff worldwide are required to ensure their behaviour is consistent with our policies. The British Council has Disability Confident Employer Status. We offer a guaranteed interview scheme for disabled applicants who meet the essential criteria for the role. Applicants are encouraged to highlight any specific requirements or adjustments needed to enable participation in the recruitment process.
The British Council is committed to safeguarding children, young people and adults who we work with.
We believe that all children and adults everywhere in the world deserve to live in safe environments and have the right to be protected from all forms of abuse, maltreatment and exploitation as set out in article 19, UNCRC (United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child) 1989.
Appointment to positions where there is direct involvement with vulnerable groups will be dependent on thorough checks being completed; these will include qualification checks, reference checks, identity & criminal record checks in line with legal requirements and with the British Council’s Safeguarding policies for Adults and Children.
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