Responsible to: Senior Director Technical Operations

Salary and benefits: Commensurate with experience

 Contract: Full-time

 Location: UK or Netherlands

 Date written: October 2021

About ASC

ASC is an independent, not-for-profit organisation established in 2010 to set and operate global standards for responsible aquaculture. The ASC is a growing organisation. We have around 90 people working from various countries, including the Netherlands, UK, Germany, Spain, Australia, Japan, China, Japan, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Brazil and the US. There are four functional Departments covering: Markets and Communication, Standards and Science, Programme Assurance and the Resources and Governance Group. Although staff work primarily from home, we operate offices in Utrecht (NL) and in London (UK).

 What we do

We set and operate global standards for aquaculture to identify farms that have met the highest standards for environmentally and socially responsible practices. The ASC traceability controls throughout the supply chain ensure the provenance of ASC certified and labelled products. Certified farmed products are promoted to consumers through the use of our logo.

 Why we do it

The aquaculture industry is growing steadily and is already supplying more than half of all seafood consumed worldwide. This growing demand increases the environmental and social footprint associated with this expansion; which we seek to reduce.

 How we make a difference

Purchase of ASC certified seafood helps to provide millions of people with cleaner, healthier, and safer farm-raised seafood. It helps to conserve and restore the world’s oceans, coasts and wildlife and improve the lives of seafood farmers and local communities in the developing world.

 How we operate

ASC acts in the marketplace to increase the awareness, value, demand, and distribution of ASC certified seafood. We work with aquaculture producers, seafood processors, retail and foodservice companies, scientists, conservation groups and the public globally to promote the best environmental and social choice in farmed seafood. For more information go to www.asc-aqua.org

Background

In 2020 the ASC concluded the development of a marketing strategy review. And by end 2021 an organisational strategy will be completed for 2022-2025; which embeds the review’s findings into an organisational-wide response. Both documents will set out clearly how our work to become a more consumer focussed marketing organisation will be achieved, provides indicative resource allocations by Department, monitoring indicators and identifies risks to achievement that require mitigation. They provide a strong foundation to charting the future activities and support the organisation will need to deliver on its Mission. To support the implementation of our new strategy the ASC has recently recruited two new Senior Directors. The Senior Director of Markets and Communications coordinates the work of three Directors responsible for Market Development, Marketing and Communications and Market Insights and Research. The Senior Director of Technical Operations (SDTO) coordinates the work of two Directors responsible for Standards and Science and Programme Assurance. This position will report into the SDTO. We have also recently recruited a Global Director of Fundraising (GDF) to seek financial support from charitable Foundations and Trusts for strategy implementation.

The adoption of strategic innovation is core to the future success of the organisation. Our current leadership position within the competitive world of aquaculture certification has largely been driven around the performance of our standards, with ASC positioning itself as the most rigorous and credible. This positioning draws on two key defining attributes. The multi-stakeholder origin of our standards, developed by WWF through the so-called Aquaculture Dialogues; largely recognised as the most inclusive standard development process ever held. And our membership of ISEAL; which demands compliance to their three Codes of Conduct for Standard Setting, Assurance and Impacts. None of our competitors are similarly positioned but they do compete strongly on the basis of programme costs and scope.

We have found that over time our standard content can easily be copied. Additionally, benchmarking against the Global Sustainable Seafood Index (GSSI), demanded particularly in the US market, does not sufficiently differentiate the ASC from our competitors. It provides a “good enough” basis of equivalence that our competitors exploit. We are also aware that the Global Aquaculture Alliance (GAA), owner of the Best Aquaculture Practices standards, is also developing additional, more robust, standards to compete more directly with the ASC. GAA now also hosts the former SeaFish Responsible Fishing Vessel Standard; which they are developing to provide additional operational and social assurances that the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) does not currently provide. They have rebadged themselves as the Global Seafood Alliance.

The ASC works closely with the MSC. We share the administration of near identical logo licence approval processes that ensure conformance of logo use on certified and labelled products.  We also use their Chain of Custody standard. This provides reasonably robust supply chain assurances but is an analogue-based system in a digital world and has some limitations. Our collaborative work also extends into the market place and we operate joint marketing campaigns in key markets. There are clear opportunities to deepen collaboration with the MSC, but existing impediments (culture, systems, processes) need to be resolved as we test opportunities to further improve collaboration.

The adoption of innovation is already a feature of our work and the further strengthening and mainstreaming such work is recognised within our strategy development. We have now embraced a positioning strategy of “Beyond Certification” not in its often-used pejorative sense of replacing certification, but to emphasise that while standards remain core to our business there are a range of tools and services that are linked or are complimentary to our certification programme. It is to the further development of these tools and services, driven by the adoption of innovation, that this role will coordinate. The position will develop and manage the overall innovation strategy and funnel. The role requires at one side to work closely together with the Marketingdepartment to determine the possible value in the marketplace of proposed innovations against customer and consumer needs. And at the other side the role will work closely together with the Standards and Science and Programme Assurance departments to develop the tools and services within the needed internal and external technical requirements.

This position will also actively work across the Standards and Assurance teams to identify, develop and adopt operational efficiencies. Some efficiencies will be identified internally but others will be drawn from the users of our systems; our certificate holders, auditors and certification companies. Further efficiencies will also be found for clients that hold more than one standard and where processes of benchmarking and equivalency recognition may allow audit costs to be reduced. Our benchmarking and foresights work is hosted within the Market Insights and Research function and close collaboration between the DI and DMIR is expected.

A further key aspect of this role will be to ensure in close cooperation with marketing and market development that the piloting and rollout of our tools and services is seamless regards their application by clients and that our market development and market communication teams possess sufficient information to sell and develop a marketing and communication plan about these tools. This will involve testing market appetite for these new tools and services throughout the development process from concept to final design.

Current and Future Innovation

Areas of ongoing innovation development focus on improving supply chain assurances (digital traceability, trace element fingerprinting and a monitoring tool to track product integrity challenges across supply chains) and climate solutions (through the Coastal Habitat Restoration Fund and the future integration of Greenhouse GasCalculators for the aquaculture sector that will be the basis of garnering further support for the Fund). Opportunities to further explore include: assessing how our standards address emerging and operational due diligence frameworks and emerging EU policy; ongoing benchmarking initiatives to determine opportunities arising from determining the scope of equivalence; further development of GIS tools and Tableau-generated interfaces to provide clients with information; and, deepening collaboration with the MSC.

We now seek to recruit an individual who will coordinate and promote the adoption of innovation and lead activities to improve efficiency within the ASC.

Position Overview

The Director of Innovations (DI) will coordinate the development and use of innovative tools and services that will create value-add for clients and will identify and deliver improvements to existing systems and processes that will reduce the costs of certification. The DI, in close collaboration across the ASC leadership team and staff, will:

  • lead the direction and coordinate the delivery of innovation at ASC;
  • track trends affecting standards, assurance tools and ASC market offerings with the potential to create added value services or can reduce costs for clients. Update and share across the ASC through written papers, presentations, events, and management meetings;
  • track evolving expectations of credibility, and feed that information into ASC’s work on improving standards, assurance and market offerings;
  • provide input into development of alternative business models and strategies;
  • develop new programmes and projects in coordination with Directors of SAS, PAT, Markets and Fundraising, that will develop and test the market interest in new tools and services;
  • deliver strategy in specific related areas of work;
  • develop options on system and programme efficiencies internal to ASC and for external clients;
  • represent ASC at external meetings, deepening ASC collaboration with partners and with networks related to innovations;
  • support the SDTO engagement with ASC Board and Technical Advisory Group in proposing and developing new innovative offerings to ASC partners; and,
  • in collaboration with colleagues, help develop ASC’s thought leadership position, promoting the role that innovation and efficiency will play in delivery of our strategic intent.

The DI will spend approximately 85% of their time identifying new innovative opportunities supporting ASC’s competitive positioning and coordinating with teams delivering the ongoing development of innovative ASC services to bring increased value to clients.

The remainder of their time will be spent supporting the organisation at the executive level, in administration, working directly with the CEO and the Senior Management Team to ensure that technical services are coordinated, coherent, innovative and aligned to both strategic and operational plans. This will entail contributing to the development of these plans, and ensuring that innovation and the quest for efficiency is well integrated with the rest of the organisation through collaboration and open communication.

 Position Outcomes

The following outcomes are expected to be delivered by ensuring that:

 Strategy and Planning

  • innovation informs and is integrated into the strategic intent of the ASC;
  • innovation and the delivery of efficiencies are prioritised and that resource allocation and planning are embraced by the senior management team;
  • by working with communications, markets and governance colleagues ensure that innovations pass through the ASC governance system in a coherent, integrated and efficient manner; and,
  • ensure that all current and new work aligns to the ASC Mission and Vision, and is consistent with the ASC Theory of Change

Stakeholder Engagement

  • support the SDTO to build trusted relationships with ASC governance bodies, at which the DI will represent the innovation function in discussions on strategy;
  • represent the ASC externally to its stakeholder community as a trusted, authoritative voice on standards and assurance. In doing so, the DI will maintain and engage good relationships with friendly, neutral and critical stakeholders across conservation, social issues, business, government, and civil society;
  • alongside the CEO and SMT colleagues, build the ASC’s position as a thought-leader within the social and environmental sustainability arena and in the broader ‘beyond certification’ space;

Innovation

  • oversee the continuous improvement of current systems and the development of new cost-effective tools, services, efficiencies and offerings to farmers, business, and supply chain actors, in order to enhance the ASC’s value proposition;
  • in conjunction with colleagues across the organisation, evolve and develop the ASC as a data focussed organisation, developing data resources and capabilities, to serve both internal and external needs;
  • support in evolving the ASC’s research capability to inform development of new tools and services, strengthen our impacts monitoring and to help support colleagues across the organisation;
  • protect the organisations intellectual property, leveraging competitive advantage and positioning ASC as at the forefront of innovation in the sector;

Leading Change Management

  • an innovation pipeline is developed and strategies are translated into implementation plans that deliverASC Strategy;
  • processes to support change management are developed and embedded into the organisation;
  • innovation is seen as integral to the ASC’s monitoring, evaluation and learning;

Background, Skills and Experience Required

Education

Graduate and post graduate qualifications relevant for position (e.g. supply chain assurance, certification, business management)

 Strategy and Planning

Strong knowledge of strategy development, marketing and business planning and decision making and how to lead effective execution through experience gained from:

  • Research and insight development to inform high level strategies
  • Global programme strategy development
  • Extensive experience of strategic planning based on insights gathered from research and stakeholder relations

Extensive senior management experience leading the supply chain management, environmental management or social compliance functions of a medium or large-sized organisation with international-scope undergoing change.

 Stakeholder Engagement

Strong communicator with track record of building relationships and instilling confidence in senior management, ASC governance, the organisation and with external stakeholders, with a demonstrable ability to engage understand and address the diverse interest and priorities of multiple stakeholders.

 Innovation

Strong leadership experience of fostering a culture of creative innovation within and across teams, with regard to both generating efficiencies for current systems and fresh innovation development. A demonstrable track record in steering strategically focussed innovations from conception through to successful implementation, and in engaging stakeholders through the process.   

 Supporting Change Management

  • inspiring teams and individuals to create, adopt and promote new ideas and to manage necessary change
  • skilled in resource planning and promoting delegated activities within teams;
  • able to negotiate and influence skilfully, promote and sell ideas persuasively and close transactions with mutually beneficial results;
  • very strong communication skills, both verbal and written, demonstrating accuracy and attention to detail;
  • excellent interpersonal skills across communication channels and in meetings with ability to influence and handle sensitive situations;

Experience

The successful candidate will combine a variety of key experiences, but they will have been established leading at a senior level. ASC’s work is focussed on the aquaculture sector, it uses standards to set performance levels for producers, feed mills and supply chain companies and it verifies certified products as they move through the supply chain. It will increasingly provide additional value to clients though the provision of services that are driven by the information our certification processes generate or value is derived by tools and services that are additional but complimentary to these processes. It is essential that the candidates can demonstrate how their experiences provide knowledge of these technical areas, that they understand the role of certification in driving production performance that reduces environmental and social impacts, how to build trust that supply chains deliver certified products to consumers and, key to this role, how the incorporation of innovation and efficiencies within the ASC will accelerate delivery of the ASC Programme overall. Successful candidates must be able to demonstrate how they can inspire technical and market facing teams to deliver innovative, effective, efficient and commercially valued services for clients (and ultimately consumers) that are linked to how our certification and assurances tools are promoted, valued and monetised by the market.

 Application and selection process

Please e-mail your cover letter and CV (in English) via: recruitment@asc-aqua.org.

Your CV and cover letter will be reviewed and a short list of candidates will be invited to take part in initial interviews. Successful candidates might be asked to prepare additional written materials and / or a presentation.

 Application closing date:  open ended date. 

 ASC take data protection very seriously. We will only use any personal information you may choose to give us in connection with your application for this position. In the event that your application is unsuccessful we will keep your personal information for 6 months, in case any other vacancies arise for which we think you may be suitable. For more information please read our privacy policy, which can be found here; https://www.asc-aqua.org/privacy/

 We want to be an inclusive and diverse employer of first choice reflecting the global community.

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