Reporting to: Chief Executive

Reports: TBD. As part of the Senior Leadership Team you will be involved in an organisational structural review, which will determine structures, teams and line reports, but the post holder should expect to lead a small team.

Salary:  £65,000 - £70,000 (including London Weighting £3,570) per annum pro rata. 

Location: London, with some travel within the UK as required.

Requests for home working or to be based in an alternative FOE office location will be considered. 


Purpose of the role

The Director of Disruptive Innovation is a member of the Senior Leadership Team (SLT). The SLT as a group is responsible for leading and inspiring the Friends of the Earth movement towards its vision of a markedly improved natural environment by 2030 and managing its strategic direction and delivery to achieve this.

Our organisational goal will not be delivered by business as usual, inside or outside Friends of the Earth. Changing the world means new ways of doing things – and that goes for us as an organisation and a movement, as well as for the political, economic, cultural and technological systems we influence.

This role will have lead responsibility and accountability for transforming how Friends of the Earth champions disruptive innovation externally and internally in support of our objectives.


Closing date: Friday 15th July 

Preliminary Interviews: Tuesday 1st August - Friday 26th August

Panel Interviews: Between Monday 5th September - Thursday 15th September


Role Description

Key Responsibilities

  1. Continually develop new approaches to disrupt and innovate Friend of the Earth’s traditional business model in order to create new opportunities to bring about change.
  2. In conjunction with the SLT, champion large programmes of cross-organisational innovation and change, particularly within new business partnerships and social enterprises: digital transformation, new technology solutions and data & insight.
  3. Working in close cooperation with the SLT, develop a culture that welcomes disruptive innovation, encourages risk taking and ‘safe to fail’ behaviour.
  4. Working closely with the Director of Campaigning Impact, develop a culture that favours an experimental, testing and responsive approach to campaigning.
  5. Develop tools, processes and opportunities for the development and sharing of ideas for active and disruptive interventions at key points of leverage.
  6. Working closely with the Director of Campaigning Impact, ensure processes are in place to review, innovate and experiment with our campaign interventions; identifying and increasing opportunities to take disruptive and physical action to exploit contradictions and tensions, and therefore force shifts in position.
  7. Ensure that Friends of the Earth is offering thought leadership on issues relevant to our mission and goal.
  8. Build strong partnerships with external experts, academic institutions, and others in ways which will create fertile ground for ideas on disruptive innovation.
  9. Identify and develop opportunities to partner externally with social enterprises or other organisations on initiatives which showcase delivery of solutions or demonstrate alternative business models in support of our organisational goal. 
  10. Ensure that Friends of the Earth is engaging in public debate with provocative opinion and comment.
  11. Commission, lead and publish rigorous research to underpin our analysis of problems and our proposed solutions.
  12. Take an agile and flexible approach, treating strategies as hypotheses to be tested and adapted accordingly, applying the ‘minimum viable product’ principle.
  13. Ensure the tools and processes are in place to evaluate success of initiatives and enable the amplification of initiatives that produce good results and the dampening/ending of those that do not. 

+ Leadership Behaviours and Expectations

  1. Be an inspirational and visionary leader for Friends of the Earth, with the drive to inspire us to achieve lasting, measurable impact in support of our mission and five step changes.
  2. Working horizontally with SLT colleagues proposing and leading projects, establishing clear mandates, parameters, project teams and resources, ensuring distribution of responsibility and decision making authority.
  3. Fostering a culture of shared ambition, distributed leadership, effective delivery, collaboration, flexibility, solutions, mutual respect and co-creation.
  4. Leading in identifying and developing effective solutions to internal challenges.
  5. With the CEO, SLT colleagues, and the Boards when appropriate, develop and review Friends of the Earth’s strategic direction, ensuring alignment and integration between objectives, strategies and plans.

Ways of working and engaging

  1. Working horizontally, diagonally and vertically across the organisation to maximise impact, ensuring that staff processes are collaborative, foster innovation and avoid silos. 2. Building relationships, sharing expertise and perspectives across the wider Friends of the Earth family, local to global, global to local.
  2. Supporting and participating in developing an effective knowledge management culture and systems.
  3. Sharing learning, promoting a culture of open reflection, experimentation and innovation, and supporting the application of tools and processes for these purposes.
  4. Champion digital first transformation up and down the organisation (including participation in key initiatives).

Internal relationships

  1. Build and maintain proactive, supportive and effective communication and relationships with the CEO and Senior Leadership Team colleagues.
  2. Build and maintain positive relationships with, and report to, the Board of Friends of the Earth Trust or Board of Friends of the Earth Limited as appropriate.
  3. Ensure effective communication and coordination between own teams and the Friends of the Earth network.

External Relationships

  1. Engaging with passion, conviction and clarity on behalf of Friends of the Earth

Person Specification

Essential Criteria

  • Significant experience of establishing new products, enterprises, start-ups or skunkworks.
  • Formal innovation training or expert knowledge and experience of innovation techniques and processes.
  • Entrepreneurial approach with a strong commercial mind set.
  • Able to lead and champion a culture of disruptive innovation across an organisation.
  • Experience of challenging the status-quo to unlock ideas and new ways of working.
  • Good leadership and coaching skills.
  • Experience of developing and delivering innovative and successful campaigns, communications, digital and/or business initiatives.
  • Track record of securing income to fund initiatives/projects.
  • In depth understanding of global trends and dynamics of relevance to the role, e.g. digital innovation, or the ability to acquire and use this knowledge quickly.
  • Excellent strategic and analytical skills and strong experience of strategy development and review.
  • Excellent project management skills, including experience of matrix working and managing/prioritising projects/issues across teams.
  • High-level facilitation skills, able to harness the creativity and diversity of a group of people.
  • Highly skilled in communicating complex issues to a wide variety of audiences.
  • Excellent advocacy and influencing skills to win hearts and minds to support a cause.
  • A proven strategic, creative and flexible leader, able to identify and implement new ways of working, seize unexpected opportunities, and encourage and develop these skills in others.
  • Demonstrable experience of overseeing the development and implementation of strategic plans and organisational change processes.
  • Demonstrable ability to assimilate and analyse information quickly and accurately,  formulate decisions that are timely and take account of risks and benefits and thereby develop innovative solutions to problems.
  • Strong experience of building and leading cohesive and effective teams and leading them through significant change.
  • Excellent interpersonal, facilitation, negotiation and communication skills; able to motivate and inspire both verbally and in writing.
  • A collaborative approach and understanding of working in a consultative environment. 
  • A demonstrable commitment to improving organisational effectiveness and impact.
  • An understanding of the strategic use of digital together with experience in the use of social media.
  • Demonstrable commitment to the vision and values of Friends of the Earth.
  •  Ability to frequently travel in the UK on a planned basis, and to travel outside of the UK occasionally, as well as working outside of office hours occasionally to meet the demands of the role.


  • Recognised as an expert in agile management techniques.
  • Experience of working in a campaigning organisation, understanding the dynamics of rapidly changing policy environments.
  • Knowledge of organisational development theory and practice.