Director of Policy Research – Smart Prosperity Institute – Ottawa, ON

Full position details

Position Type: Full time, contract

Salary: Commensurate with experience

Location: Ottawa, Ontario

Posting Date: June 19, 2018

Deadline: July 16, 2018

Start Date: Negotiable



Smart Prosperity Institute (formerly Sustainable Prosperity) is a national environment-economy research network and policy think tank based at the University of Ottawa. We deliver world-class research, working with a global experts network and business, NGO and government leaders – all to advance practical policies and market solutions for a stronger, cleaner, more innovative economy. More info at: and

Position Overview:

The role of the Director of Policy Research is to provide strategic direction, leadership and management for all aspects of Smart Prosperity Institute’s policy research and engagement activities, cutting across environment, resources, innovation and the economy. The successful candidate will lead in developing, resourcing, and delivering SPI’s policy research programs, including large, multi-year initiatives requiring multiple high-profile funders/partners, politically sensitive analysis, complex primary and secondary research, and knowledge translation and dissemination, in order to provide evidence-based analysis in support of policies that transition to a stronger, cleaner economy.

This is a senior position that reports directly to the Executive Director. The position has multiple positions reporting to it, including up to three senior research associates, up to five research associates, and number of part-time or variable student positions.

Specific Accountabilities:

  • Sets the strategic direction for SPI’s policy research initiatives, across four program lines in collaboration with other members of the management team to ensure that the strategic policy direction for the organization
  • Responsible for the design, monitoring, and delivery of complex projects of varying lengths and types, and to varying audiences, in order to ensure that each project is successfully delivered on time.
  • Monitors leading-edge thinking and practice on policies worldwide for driving clean growth, innovation and resource efficiency, and participates in key global knowledge networks, to inform SP’s policy research agenda;
  • Stays abreast of other similar organizations’ policy directions in order to ensure best strategic positioning of SPI. Keeps abreast of potential policy windows and opportunities, with provincial and federal governments, in order to ensure the organization’s work is of high policy-relevance.
  • Represents SPI with governments, stakeholders, funders, project partners, steering committee members, media and others, ensuring clear, balanced and non-partisan positioning of SPI as Canada’s leading green economy think-tank
  • Leads the Policy Research Team and ensures effective individual performance, team-level performance and appropriate use of resources for maximum policy impact
  • Ensures hands-on management of the resources – both human and financial – of the Policy Team in order to deliver excellence in project outcomes and team management
  • Liaises with business, government, non-profit, academic and other potential partners to develop new projects, partnerships, funding agreements and opportunities for influence.Supports SP’s fundraising proposals.
  • Works closely with SPI’s academic research director and global network to harness, translate and synthesize academic research to inform and advance policy thinking.
  • Maintains professional relationships with key influencers in federal and provincial governments, in order to ensure timeliness and impact of all Policy Team activities
  • Responsible for ensuring performance reports to external funders of policy projects are prepared and submitted on time
  • Conducts primary and secondary research on environment-economy issues in various areas (climate, natural resources, innovation, circular economy) – from the initial project scoping through to writing reports and communicating findings; may be done independently as well as with others
  • Delivers high-impact, high-quality analysis that informs Canada’s policy and economic agenda, and is integrated with all SPI’s other activities (research, communications, events, etc.)
  • Develops and maintains work plans for four streams of the Policy Team’s activities so that all projects are delivered to a high quality, on time and on budget, and in order to ensure excellence in employee management

Knowledge, Experience and Skills:

  • A graduate degree in economics, business, innovation or a related field
  • Extensive knowledge of environment/resource and economic issues; also, knowledge of innovation issues would be an asset
  • Proven ability to work at the interface of academic and policy research, to inform policy thinking and development
  • Minimum 8 years of experience working on both research (secondary or primary) and policy solutions on environment, natural resources, innovation and/or economic issues
  • Experience working in a university environment an asset
  • Minimum 5 years of experience in writing high-quality, influential reports targeted to policy makers and/or providing advice to senior decision-makers (in government, business or other)
  • Strong experience in managing people, projects and budgets
  • Experience in building and maintaining relationships with governments and external partners
  • Demonstrated tact, judgment, diplomacy and leadership
  • Ability to work within a collaborative team environment
  • Ability to use computer systems and software for research, writing and communicating (word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, etc.)
  • Ability to take a broad, long-range approach to problem-solving and decision-making that involves objective analysis, thinking ahead and planning
  • Ability to phrase complicated issues and concepts in simple language
  • Ability to juggle multiple projects and change priorities quickly
  • Excellent communication skills (primarily in English; French capability an asset)

Smart Prosperity Institute staff are employees of the University of Ottawa. We invite you to consult the University’s benefits and policies for Non-Union Support Staff:

To apply for this position, please email the following materials to Mike Wilson,

  1. CV
  2. Cover Letter

The deadline for applications is July 16, 2018.

Click here to view job posting as a downloadable PDF.

We thank all candidates for their interest. Only candidates selected for an interview will be contacted.

Full position details