Director & Chief Executive Officer
The Australian National Maritime Museum is Australia’s museum of the sea.
The Museum’s purpose is to collect and share unique stories about people, objects and events that engage, educate and inspire Australians about the nation’s relationship with the sea, so they value it more. Established in 1991, the Museum is a leader in the preservation, promotion and sharing of Australia’s maritime history, including Indigenous Australians’ deep connection to the ocean, early exploration, migration, commerce, defence, ecology, adventure, sport, play and identity. More than a traditional museum, this institution creates encounters and experiences that change people’s understanding of Australia. The Museum is increasingly renowned for a visitor experience, which is authentic, immersive, personalised and surprising. The Museum is a trusted resource for the nation, leveraging its collection and expertise to contribute to a diverse range of Government priorities at home and abroad.
The Museum’s location on the waterfront at Darling Harbour in Sydney—at the centre of Australia’s most important tourist precinct—is a significant strength and opportunity. It has had significant capital investment in recent years and there are ambitious plans to optimise the site with further enhancements as funds permit. With a strong national and international reputation, a devoted workforce, assets of A$275 million—including healthy reserves—and an annual budget of ~A$35 million, the Museum is well-placed for a new post-pandemic phase of growth in audiences, profitability and impact. As an entity of the Commonwealth of Australia, the Museum is one of 11 National Collecting Institutions and the only one not based in the national capital, Canberra. The Museum presents a dynamic program of events and exhibitions on Australia’s maritime history to connect the stories, objects, people and places that are part of our country’s narrative. It is the proud custodian of one of the world’s largest floating historical collections, including replicas of Captain Cook’s Endeavour and the Duyfken (the first European ship to make landfall in Australia); the former Navy destroyer HMAS Vampire; the former Navy patrol boat HMAS Advance; the former Navy submarine HMAS Onslow, and the 1902 steam yacht Ena. This collection is open to visitors to explore life onboard.
In addition to its floating collection, the Museum has a series of permanent and temporary exhibitions in its galleries at Darling Harbour. It houses a vast, enviable collection of almost 150,000 objects and its exhibitions cover a broad range of vibrant subjects. These exhibitions—and fun activities for children—allow visitors to connect with and learn about Australia’s maritime past and present. The Museum assigns a high priority to sharing the national maritime story beyond Sydney, connecting with interstate and regional communities—and international audiences—through its diverse touring exhibitions, programs, publications and website.
Between 2013 and the pandemic, the Museum had year-on-year growth of major KPIs, particularly visitation and self-generated revenue. In the first three quarters of FY20, the Museum achieved record-breaking visitation of 1.85 million on- and off-site visitors, and boasted a support base of 15,000 members. 380,000 students participated in on- and off-site learning programs.
The Museum operates on a mixed funding model. In FY20, it achieved approximately A$40.1 million in total revenue of which a relatively high A$19.7 million was self-generated. In a non-pandemic year, the Museum is 40 to 45 per cent self-sustaining, with own income primarily through events, exhibitions and leases. Other self-generated income is via grants, donations, sponsorship, retail and vessel- & venue-hire.
The key duties of the role include:
Reporting to and serving on the Council, the Director & Chief Executive Officer (‘Director’) will provide strategic, operational and commercial leadership to the Museum. The Director is the agency head for a team of ~125 employees, engaged under the Public Service Act 1999 (Cth). These resources are supplemented by a large base of volunteers, and security and front-of-house staff engaged under contract.
The priorities for the role include:
• understanding visitors and members and driving their engagement;
• reaching Australians across the country;
• confirming the Museum’s focus;
• refining the strategy to ensure commerciality and sustainability;
• responding to local and global trends in the curation and management of collections;
Curating exhibitions and experiences
• creating unforgettable experiences;
• maintaining a relevant acquisition program;
• attracting, actively coaching, caring for and motivating a high-calibre team;
• actively nurturing and role-modelling a positive organisational culture;
• inspiring a large volunteer-base;
• fostering external relationships, including with governments and the maritime and museum sectors;
• raising funds;
• working closely with the Council;
• project managing the annual exhibition and events program;
• delivering the budget and ensuring the Museum’s financial sustainability;
• optimising the site;
• running the venue;
• overseeing and exemplary education program, and
• meeting all governance requirements.
Key selection criteria:
• Demonstrates high-level leadership and vision
o Sets a strategic vision and inspires others to achieve this
o Innovative in dealing with issues
o Articulates a clear direction for their organisation
• Manages large and/or complex operations
o Achieves results within the context of organisational and/or Government policy
o Strong people management skills
o Strong financial management, ensuring efficient, effective and ethical use of resources
o Understanding of and commitment to quality organisational governance
• Works with others to meet objectives
o Operates collaboratively with others to meet organisational objectives
o Cultivates productive relationships
o Listens to people and values different perspectives
• High level of judgement
• Demonstrates a high standard of professional and personal integrity and capacity to promote these in an organisation.
Examples of work-related qualities that may be taken into account in making the assessment include:
• skills and abilities;
• qualifications, training and competencies;
• standard of work performance;
• capacity to produce outcomes from effective performance at the level required;
• relevant personal qualities;
• demonstrated potential for further development, and
• ability to contribute to team performance.
Accordingly, it is expected that the new Director will have functional expertise in general management. This could come from a range of sectors including:
(a) museums, or the broader galleries, libraries and archives sector;
(b) maritime industries, or
(c) tourism, attractions, cultural venues or entertainment.
Maritime knowledge or experience—or an interest for one or more aspects of Australia’s relationship with the sea—will be an advantage, but not essential; certainly, the new Director will need to be able to develop a passion for manifold maritime matters. Irrespective of background, the new Director will have a track-record in leading a customer-focused organisation, where leveraging consumer insights is vital for success. They will have strong commercial acumen and finance skills; curatorial sensibility; an appreciation for attracting diverse audiences (both on- and off-line), and experience in leveraging technology to creative engaging, immersive experiences. The ideal candidate will have exceptional project management skills in creating and realising an annual program of events and experiences. They will be a charismatic and inspirational leader, who has hired, led, developed and retained a similar-sized, united team of talented individuals in a structured, collaborative environment. Ideally, they will have expertise in identifying, growing and diversifying revenue-streams and a strong track-record of delivering growth in outputs and revenues with a small budget. They will be comfortable operating both in the detail and at the strategic level.
Experience working with government, philanthropy and collecting institutions will be beneficial, but not essential. While an understanding of—or passion for—the not-for-profit cultural, arts or social history sectors will be valued, commercial sector experience will be too, as will the ability to bring an entrepreneurial spirit to a cultural and artistic environment. Sound digital credentials will be important as the Museum continues to reach out to and engage young people, and presents innovative online and in-person exhibitions.
While there is an advantage for the successful candidate to have relevant Australian knowledge or have worked in the local market, they may come from offshore. Academic qualifications from well-regarded institutions are anticipated and higher degrees are desirable.
Selection for this position will be made on the basis of relative merit, which will be assessed against each item of the selection criteria. Applications that do not address the selection criteria will not be considered for shortlisting. As part of the selection process, candidates may be invited to undertake psychometric testing. You should advise Challis & Company if you have any special needs.
How to apply:
For a detailed role specification and instructions on how to apply, please contact Helen Johnson at Challis & Company, the Executive search and Leadership consulting firm advising the Council and Assessment Panel, on +61 2 8039 2223 or at email@example.com. Please email applications to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Applications close at 5pm AEST on Sunday, 19 September 2021.Find Out More
You might also be interested in:
Project Officer, First Nations Histories
This job is with the History Council of NSW, Inc and closes on 28 September 2021.
First Nations Arts Assistant
This job is with the Rockhampton Museum of Art and closes on 4 October 2021.