Head of Governance


Job Title:  Head of Governance

Reports to (title): Chief Executive Officer

Key relationships: Governing Board, Co-Chairs, Council, Executive Leadership Team, Wider Leadership Team. CEO’s office and other colleagues

Date: November 2022


• To lead and provide Cochrane’s governance, to support the strategic aims and operational activities of the organisation.

• To lead and provide oversight of policy development, implementation, monitoring and reporting to the Governing Board to ensure that Cochrane is compliant and follows best practice.


Governance Leadership

• Maintain knowledge and keep abreast of best practice and developments within charity governance and policy, advising the Board, CEO and Executive Leadership Team

• Promote understanding of good governance whilst working with the Governing Board, CEO and across the organisation

• Ensure the appropriate support structures and processes are in place to enable Cochrane’s Governing Board to meet its responsibilities and obligations; and lead and oversee high-quality support to the Board, its Committees, the Cochrane Council and other governance bodies.

• Contribute to Cochrane’s budget planning processes and manage the governance budget effectively.

•Act as Company Secretary of The Cochrane Collaboration

Governance & Cochrane Group meetings

• Maintain an overview and lead co-ordination of all governance meetings, including the Governing Board and its Sub-Committees, Cochrane Council, governance meetings, working groups etc.

• Manage the corporate meeting cycle and schedule, ensuring governance meetings have clear objectives, agendas and supporting documentation

• Manage and run elections and appointments to the Board, Sub-Committees and Council; and the organisation’s Annual General Meeting

• Working with the Chairs of the Board and relevant staff, ensure that Board Members and Trustee induction, skills evaluation and appraisal follow current best practice, providing support as necessary

• Minute Board meetings and provide other appropriate meeting support, ensuring the Board portal and other Board administrative systems are fit for purpose and kept up to date

• Working with the CEO, ELT, the Chairs of the Board and of any Committees, provide co-ordination and quality control for the production, distribution, and actions of governance papers

• Oversee the organisation, travel, and accommodation of face-to-face meetings.

Promoting good governance

• Work with the Chief Executive Officer, Editor-in-Chief and Co-Chairs to ensure the Governing Board follows best practice in governance, and is supported to do so

• Work with the Executive Leadership Team and others across the Central Executive Team (CET) to meet Governance Support objectives

• Lead the coordination and support to the Governing Board of complaints submitted to it

• Ensure compliance with relevant requirements, working closely with the Director of Finance & Corporate Services or equivalent, including leading on the production of the Annual Report.

Policy Oversight

• Working with the Chief Executive Officer and Director of Finance & Corporate Services, develop a strategy to ensure an appropriate level of assurance for the charity and wider Community with implementation, monitoring and evaluation plans.

• Work with the CEO and the ELT to establish and review policies and procedures that ensure the organisation meets constitutional, legal and regulatory requirements relating to company administration

• To ensure that Cochrane has a suite of policies that cover both staff, and where appropriate, the wider Cochrane Community that:

o             Follow best practice

o             Are maintained in a comprehensive organisational policy register, including editorial policies

o             Are reviewed and updated on a regular basis, as necessary

o             Are monitored and reported to the ELT and/or Board

o             Training and support materials are provided as necessary

• To be responsible for the implementation of the Complaints policy and processes and Governing Board Complaints committee


• Contribute to the leadership of Cochrane bringing the governance perspective to strategic and operational conversations.

• Commission Governance Reviews, working with the Board and/or external consultants; implement agreed findings.

• Ensuring that the Board receives periodic reports and models best practice on issues such as Health & Safety, safeguarding, whistleblowing and data protection where the Charity Code of Governance and/or Charity Commission guidance recommends direct Board oversight.

• Any other requirements commensurate with the role.



Technical knowledge and skills

• Experience in a senior governance role within a challenging government, charity, regulatory, or similar environment.

• Excellent analytical skills with the intellectual ability to assess complex legal, policy and procedural documents and issues, and make recommendations for action.

• Proven planning and organisational reporting skills.

• Ability to work under pressure, make decisions and to solve problems. The post-holder must be able to deal with conflicting demands and prioritise work whilst ensuring that a high-quality service is provided and that deadlines are met.

• Expertise in supporting the governance of complex organisations and experience of providing governance advice to Board members, or equivalent.

• Line management experience

Interpersonal and communication skills

• Excellent influencing, relationship management and interpersonal skills are required as the role involves interaction with senior internal and external stakeholders.  A collaborator and tactician who can build strong relationships and synergistic working across the Board of Trustees, the Executive team, and the wider organisation to ensure effective governance.

• Proven experience of commissioning and quality-assuring papers and reports.

• The ability to draft papers and other documentation in clear, concise, and accurate plain English to tight timescales.

• Creative thinking, independent judgment and discretion in handling and/or communicating major issues. Demonstrable ability and willingness both to operate strategically and to be “hands-on”.

• The ability to work with agility in a global, fast-moving environment.


• A qualification or professional accreditation in governance or a relevant discipline.


Internal: CEO, Executive Leadership team, CET Departments

External: Governing Board, Council, Cochrane Groups, Charity Commission, lawyers


Budgetary responsibility: Governance budget

Number of direct and indirect reports: tbc