Partnerships and Commercial Director

🔭 Our mission & vision

The Forward Institute was set up in 2015 by a group of major organisations with a bold mission: to make responsible leadership the only leadership.

We believe that much depends on our collective leadership over the next decade. So we’re on a quest to help leaders and some of the world’s most influential organisations become more sustainable, equitable, purposeful and responsible.

Job Description

If you are a strategic, commercial thinker who wants to use your relationship building and strategic capabilities to support deep organisational and systemic change, then we want to hear from you!

Responsibilities & tasks

We are seeking an exceptional Partnerships and Commercial Director who is passionate about using relationships to influence organisations to become more purposeful and responsible. Ideally someone with strong multi-sector experience, you may be at a point in your career where you wish to use your commercial knowledge to drive growth in a purpose driven organisation. Ideally you are someone who is able to spot new opportunities at the intersections of hugely varied work and someone who is excited at the prospect of driving these forward.

You won't be a traditional sales person - for us it is not about financial growth, but about impact, and therefore working deeply with organisations who are really serious about their purpose and impact. If you are hopeful about the impact that can be had within the British Army, Civil Service, bp, Tesco and Save the Children (amongst others) then this might be an exciting role for you.


We are a fast-growing organisation driven by a big, bold mission. As our growth ramps up, we need a skilful and purpose-driven leader to guide our evolution and shape the commercial strategy and development of the Institute. We are focused on achieving significant impact at scale (not pursuing revenue for its own sake), so you would need to be thoughtful about the power, possibilities and potential pitfalls of building an organisation that is not for profit but also highly commercial.

This is a new role and will sit at the heart of all we do. You will play a key role in running the Institute as a member of our senior leadership team and will work particularly closely with our CEO and Chairman. The role will have 3 core components:

Manage our commercial partnerships

  • Be the principal market-facing leader of the Institute, with responsibility for managing our overall partnerships with organisations across all the different strands of our work

  • Take overall responsibility for the Institute's income, driving the growth of a healthy and meaningful portfolio of work that sets us up to achieve our mission. It’s important you help us to grow thoughtfully and with purpose - pre-empting and managing with skill any tension between commercial and impact drivers

  • Cultivate deep, trusted and long-term relationships with our partners organisations - by advising, challenging and supporting their efforts to embed responsibility at the heart of their organisation

  • Manage our partnerships team – ensuring we have a best-in-class approach to how we manage our relationships and develop new business and sales

  • Help lead efforts to capture, understand, improve and communicate the impact we are having with our partner organisations

  • Develop strong new partnerships with influential organisations with CEO and ExCo level sponsorship – especially in target sectors such as technology and pharmaceuticals

Develop our strategy

  • Work closely with the CEO and leadership team to develop the long-term strategy of the Institute

  • Work with each area of the business to develop a strong model for growth and impact, and guiding the development of new programmes and services

  • Help guide the evolution of our business model, service offering, growth plans, and the evolution of our culture and capabilities

  • Shape a commercially responsible, accessible and competitive operating model

  • Work with the leadership team on the development of new products and services

Build our reputation

  • Work closely with the CEO and Chairman to effectively steward our wider network of senior level relationships, including our advisory board and sponsors inside partner organisations

  • Work closely with the Director of Communications to build an effective and impactful approach to building our brand awareness and reputation

  • Be a credible figurehead for the Institute in the external environment, and work closely with the CEO and our Director of Communications and Public Affairs to lead on our relationships with other organisations in the purpose and responsibility ecosystem

  • Research and staying abreast of best practices in purpose driven business, leadership development and social innovation

Ideal candidate

Skills & qualifications


  • 10+ years experience working in a strategic and commercial role

  • You are energised to help us build and grow the Forward Institute as we continue to scale

  • You can easily build credibility and rapport with senior leaders in very different organisations across the private and public sectors. The role is very outward facing so it’s essential you develop relationships quickly, are smart, personable and curious

  • You will be comfortable balancing critical commercial decision making with the necessary focus on our impact and mission

  • You are passionate about what we are trying to do, have a serious interest in responsible leadership and are curious about what is going on in the world

  • You have an aversion to jargon, provide clarity in complex situations, and focus on what really matters

  • You are ambitious, motivated by bold ideas and big goals – and are restless in pursuit of impact


  • You’ve helped lead change. Ideally you have experience in a large organisation and understand what it takes to really make change happen in large corporate environments

  • You can bring international perspective to your work and/or are thoughtful around the growing questions and challenges of responsibility in a fast-growing environment

  • You have experience of working with the private sector, either from within or as your primary market

  • You have a strong interest in social justice issues, equality and diversity


  • Are optimistic, bring warmth and good humour to work, have a strong collaborative work ethic and bring positive intent to every situation

  • Would thrive in a small but growing and highly collaborative team (there are ~30 of us right now, and we’ll be growing to 40 in the next couple of years)

  • Are fascinated by different sectors, and you’d enjoy working with a wide range of influential organisations

  • Enjoy being part of lively debates about the big issues facing society one minute and the lay-out of a room the next

  • Have a curious mind and are always open to the insights and perspectives of others

  • Love the idea of working somewhere people share your values and are fully focused on making a meaningful impact on the world

  • Would enjoy working in a fast-paced environment, are happy to work without a big support structure around you, and would like to grow with a small but ambitious organisation as it develops over time

How to apply

Please send your CV and a covering letter or video answering the following two questions:

What is it that you are passionate about and what makes you a great fit for the Forward Institute?
Why you are interested in this specific role?

Applications without a covering letter or video will not be considered.

The deadline for submissions is Monday 24th October 2022. First round interviews will take place the week of 31st October.

Additionally, we are currently recruiting for a Managing Director, Advisory, and a number of other roles - details of these roles can be found on our job page

You will need to hold any relevant Visas/Work Permits.

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