Vacancy *now closed*: We’re looking for a new principal-level person to join our team

*This vacancy is now closed. This webpage is still live so candidates can refer back to the information.*


You might call yourself a Principal Design Strategist, a Senior Innovation Lead, a Project Director or something else. Read on to find out who we’re looking for.

*Please note that we’ve published this job ad three times under different job titles on Workable – Principal Design Strategist, Senior Innovation Lead and Project Director. This is to further our recruitment reach and because we don’t want anyone to be turned off by a specific job title. If you’re applying for this role, you only need to fill in one of the three to be considered. We’d love if you could apply to the title that resonates most with you.


Key role information

  • £63,000 – £68,000
  • Full time (we’re up for discussing part time options too)
  • Principal/Senior level
  • Located at our Farringdon office on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays
  • Work from home on Mondays and Fridays


About Shift

We’re a social innovation charity with a team of 12 researchers, strategists and designers. We exist to help charities and purpose-led organisations strengthen and sustain their social impact. We do this in three ways – helping partners to make things that work, helping partners to unpick problems and find where to focus, and helping partners to build design mindsets and skills. Our work is centred around areas deeply affected by inequality – including mental health, money, work and funding. Check out our work and focus for the future.

We work differently

Working at Shift is different to working at other places. To give you a taster – we don’t do line management, every team member runs their own reviews and our salaries are transparent. Two years ago we made a decision to experiment with ways of operating and organising that push against the norm. We’ve learned loads and will continue to adapt – you can read about our journey to a flatter, roles-based, leaderful organisation here. You’ll love Shift if you’re no ego, kind, collaborative, hardworking and willing to ask for help when you want it.


About the role

This is a big hire for us at Shift. You’ll be coming on at our most senior level (we have a 1-4 levelling system to reflect experience and responsibility and this is a level 4 role). This means we’re looking for someone with likely 10+ years experience who, with support, collaboration and a great onboarding from our team, can come in and hit the ground running.

We expect that your first 6 months will be spent leading two big projects. One of which will be a multi-year co-design project working as part of an agency and academic consortium – initially to explore the local determinants of adolescent mental health in Newham and North Devon, and eventually co-designing and testing ways forward. After 6 months, we imagine that you’ll also play a role in Shift’s business development and core organisational responsibilities (depending on your interest, expertise areas and needs of the team).

Project delivery (immediate and ongoing)

  • Lead large scale research, co-design and prototyping projects with partners like national charities, housing associations and funders
  • Work with partners to set direction, scope and plan projects – often bringing lots of clarity and focus to ambiguity
  • Guide and mentor project teams and set the conditions for teams to do their best, most creative and impactful work
  • Get hands-on and do the doing work yourself along with project teams – bringing your depth of experience on research and design methods
  • Wrangle multiple stakeholders and build strong relationships with project teams – especially at a senior level from varied backgrounds

Wider organisational responsibilities (from 6 months and flexible depending on your interest and expertise)

  • Develop existing relationships and projects into ongoing partnerships and work with the Shift team to build opportunities for new work
  • Push forward Shift’s research and design practice – by experimenting with new methods and building on the team’s existing capacity

We strive for diversity in our team. We believe in order to be innovative, our team must be representative and inclusive. We’re keen to receive applications from people of all backgrounds, all ages, and all types of formal or informal education.

All applicants must have the right to work in the UK.


About you

Must have experience

  • Leading big, complex design research/innovation/design/strategy projects. When you apply, we’ll ask you upfront for examples of projects where you have
    • Worked with partners to set a strategic vision
    • Designed an approach and process outlining: the project’s methods and activities, who on multidisciplinary team is doing what, and how the work fits together
    • Guided a team make sense of wide, varied and complex research and learning data to make confident decisions that keeps you moving through milestones (not getting stuck in research and learning but moving through design and testing)
    • Held a strategic vision and led a team through ambiguous and sometimes competing asks towards clear and focussed milestones and outputs
  • Facilitating decision-making with multiple stakeholders. We’ll ask you for examples of projects where you’ve brought multiple stakeholders (from academics through to community-based partners) through a project, building buy-in and excitement, and facilitating decision-making.
  • Mentoring and supporting a team. We’ll ask you for examples of how you’ve provided support and set the conditions for a team of researchers and designers to do their best work.


Bonus points for any of these (*although not essential)

  • Knowledge of the drivers and determinants of adolescent mental health
  • Experience working in participatory ways with a range of people (like young people, local community partners, public service, local authorities)
  • Experience working in a design agency, consultancy or client-facing role
  • Experience building new partnerships and pipelines of work


What we offer

  • You’ll get 25 days annual leave, 8 bank holidays, an additional day for each year at Shift, and discretionary bonus leave over the Christmas period
  • Work from home on Mondays and Fridays
  • Access to childcare vouchers
  • A bike to work scheme
  • Matched pension contribution up to 4%
  • We support you with an onboarding buddy when you join to get you started (remember because we don’t do line management)


How to apply

Applications now closed.


  • Application deadline: 19 May – by midnight (we won’t consider applications submitted after this time)
  • Shortlisting: 20 May
  • Interviews: 24, 25, 26 May
  • Candidate selected: 30 May
  • Ideal start: 4 July (we can be flexible with this)

Interviews will normally run between 9am-6pm, but if you have children, caring duties, or other circumstances affecting your availability, we’re happy to offer convenient times outside of work hours.