SKAO is Hiring a Finance & Procurement Business Partner


The Square Kilometre Array Observatory (SKAO) is recruiting a Finance & Procurement Business Partner that will be part of the leadership team for SKAO in South Africa and will be critical to the successful implementation and ongoing activities of SKAO in South Africa. In South Africa, SKAO is collaborating with the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory (SARAO) to support the construction and operations of the SKA-Mid Telescope. The SKA-Mid Finance and Procurement Business Partner will work closely with their equivalent role in SARAO to manage the work of the South African finance and procurement team. In addition, the SKA-Mid Finance and Procurement Business Partner will also be a senior in-country representative for Procurement Services and ensure that local procurement activity is compliant with the SKAO Procurement Policy and associated procedure notes.

Key Responsibilities, Accountabilities and Duties

The successful candidate will:

  • Be part of the Leadership team for SKAO in South Africa, and work with the SARAO-employed Finance Business Partner to oversee the day to day work of the SKA-Mid Finance and Procurement team, which includes staff from SKAO and SARAO;
  • Prepare or review all SKAO ZAF financial ledger postings (accruals, prepayments, payroll etc.) and be responsible for the monthly management accounts and balance sheet reconciliations, including relevant commentary and associated queries from SKAO HQ;
  • Ensure that SKAO ZAF payroll reporting obligations are met, such as reviewing monthly payroll calculation for SKAO South Africa employees, submission of EMP201, EMP501 returns etc., working with external payroll processor and local SKAO HR colleagues;
  • Liaise with DIRCO and SARS concerning employment tax, customs, and VAT claims and queries;
  • Review and approve ZAF ledger requisitions and purchase orders supplier invoices, and perform bank authorisations as required in line with the internal delegation of authority;
  • Support the SKAO HQ Group Financial Accountant with documenting finance and procurement processes, along with key risks and controls, creating Internal Control Statements (ICS), and performing annual walkthrough requests;
  • Ensure local procurement is carried out in compliance with the SKAO Procurement Policy and associated procedure notes, and represent Procurement Services locally in matters related to tendering for high-value contracts for goods, services and works;
  • Work alongside the Legal Manager on matters related to local contract disputes and issues;
  • Act as the main point of contact for any queries relating to the SKAO annual external audit and any internal audits of the finance and procurement processes in South Africa;
  • Support SARAO with queries arising from external or internal audits;
  • Support the SKAO HQ Group Financial Accountant with the preparation of SKAO’s annual financial statements;
  • Work alongside the SKAO HQ ERP System Manager to continuously improve the ERP system finance processes and controls;
  • Support the CFO by monitoring changes in IFRS accounting standards and South African regulatory changes, and planning for any necessary accounting changes;
  • Train finance and non-finance staff as required;
  • Travel nationally and internationally as required; and 
  • Undertake any other reasonable duties, such as assisting with other business systems, as directed by the SKA-Mid Telescope Director, SKA-Mid Deputy Telescope Director or the CFO.
Mandatory Knowledge, Skills and Experience

To perform this job successfully, an individual must perform each essential duty satisfactorily. The requirements listed below are representative of the knowledge, skill, and/or ability required:

  • CCAB accounting qualification (ACCA / ACA / CIPFA / SAICA / SAIPA preferred) or working towards a qualification with significant experience (typical at least seven years) in finance and procurement roles;
  • Experience in end-to-end management and responsibility for a whole financial ledger, including reporting to regulatory and statutory authorities;
  • Knowledge of and experience of accounting under IFRS accounting standards;
  • A demonstrated record of leading a small team, or the potential to lead a team, promoting diversity and developing an inclusive, high-performing culture;
  • High level of commercial acumen, in particular concerning supplier contracting and purchasing operations, including the traditional business “procure to pay” (P2P) cycle and experience of dealing with senior supplier representatives;
  • Strong attention to detail, both in preparing own work and reviewing work of others to ensure a high standard of accuracy;
  • A self-motivated problem solver with the ability to manage conflicting priorities and work to deadlines, managing projects through to completion;
  • Strong proficiency in Microsoft Excel, Word and Powerpoint.; and
  • Excellent written and spoken communication skills in English.
Desirable Knowledge, Skills and Experience
  • Experience in remotely reporting to an international group finance function.
  • Prior working experience within a multi-currency ERP system environment.
  • Experience in reporting to and coordinating activities with colleagues working remotely, ideally both locally and internationally.
Equality Diversity and Inclusion Statement

SKA Observatory aims to create a welcoming and inclusive environment where everyone feels a sense of belonging and diverse perspectives and ideas thrive. Therefore, equality, diversity, and inclusion are at the core of SKA Observatory’s agenda.

SKAO wishes to recruit and retain the most talented individuals and welcome all candidates, especially those from member countries, regardless of gender, race, disability, age, sexual orientation, marital status, religion, nationality or background. Women have traditionally been under-represented in science and engineering, and as such, SKA Observatory welcomes and encourages female applicants. In addition, where applicants with a disability need facilities or adjustments to participate in the recruitment process, these will be provided.

The “How to Apply” information contained within the SKA Observatory recruitment portal provides more detail regarding the mode of application and selection approach.

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