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Head of Finance Innovation Unit

Join the Innovation Unit as Head of Finance and help us continue to grow and scale powerful innovations, strengthen our voice and embed us in the systems we want to help change.

  • Location: Hybrid/London (few days in London per month and/or when required)
  • Salary: £60,000 pro rata plus benefits (Permanent, 4 days / 30 hrs p/w, full-time considered)
  • Closing date: 9 a.m. Monday 22nd July 2024

Who we are

The Innovation Unit is a dynamic, not for profit social enterprise endeavouring to grow and scale the boldest and best innovations, that deliver long-term impact for people, address persistent inequalities and transform the systems around them.

We design and deliver innovation programmes that develop new ideas. We work with local places, systems and partners to help adoption and adaptation to different contexts and different needs, and we pass on tools and techniques to inspire people to keep innovating, learning and iterating.

Collaboration is at the heart of our work. We value everyone’s lived experience, facilitate co-production, and we help to reimagine and transform systems.

Our approach is intersectional and we share a core set of beliefs about enabling change that is owned and driven by the people it affects.

Bring your whole self to the Innovation Unit

About this role

We now seek a new Head of Finance – a role that offers you the opportunity to sit together with people who are committed to using the power of social innovation to address the most persistent problems we face.

You will be responsible for our entire finance function, reporting directly with the Managing Director, and leading our Finance Business Partner. While overseeing the finance function’s day-to-day running, you will equally provide strategic insights and support to senior leadership and our board.

Importantly, you will provide commercial guidance and insight from a financial perspective, as well as acting as our Company Secretary.

Who we are looking for

We seek a fully qualified accountant (ACCA/CIMA/ACA), with a strong SME financial management background and an understanding of the workings of a consultancy.

You will have a strong track record of successful leadership of a finance function and an understanding of multi-year project accounting and management of deferred income.

As a natural problem solver, you will be able to simplify complex financial concepts and be confident in self-management, working independently and across all levels.

We need someone who is a highly credible communicator, able to balance empathy with positive challenge.

Understanding grant funding is advantageous, and experience with Xero accounting software and Kimble is highly desirable.

We value all forms of diversity and thrive on new perspectives and constructive challenge, and we welcome individuals who are ambitious, optimistic and inspired to contribute to our future development.

Please note: The post holder will need to start with us at the beginning of September 2024, thus, we seek those who are immediately available, or with a notice period of up to one-month maximum.


  • 27 days holiday pro rata plus bank holidays. In addition, we close the office for three days between Christmas and New Year.
  • 4% pension contribution
  • Pension salary exchange scheme
  • Life cover
  • Flexible working
  • Employee Assistance Support


We have colleagues in London, Edinburgh, Greater Manchester, Yorkshire and places in between, with access to offices in central London and Manchester.

Our team splits their time between home, client sites and the office, with opportunities to come to the office for project work, away days and socials.

Schedules vary depending on the requirements of your role.


To access the job information pack for this role, please follow the instructions on the ‘How to Apply’ tab.

If you would like to have an informal conversation about this opportunity, you can email our advising consultant at Peridot Partners to arrange a call:


If you would like to know more about this role please contact James Hunt

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Welcome from the Managing Director

Dear applicant,

Thank you for your interest in the Innovation Unit – a dynamic, not for profit social enterprise endeavouring to grow and scale the boldest and best innovations, that deliver long-term impact for people, address persistent inequalities and transform the systems around them.

We have established our systems and processes over the last five years and now looking to a future of harnessing these and improving our efficiency and effectiveness to support our growth strategy.

We are looking for a proactive Head of Finance to be part of this future. This role would suit you if you enjoy working in a varied and busy work environment where you can bring a wide range of skills

to bear and develop. As an integral part of the team, you will report to me, and be supported by our Finance Business Partner.

You will be responsible for the finance function and be the “go to” person leading on all things finance related. Our leadership team will rely on you to produce and present the financial picture of the organisation and make recommendations.

You will need to be comfortable with engaging with the big picture and be able to delve into the details and draw out key insights. An SME background with a good grasp of a consultancy organisation is needed for this role.

You will bring your experience of system implementation and improvement to bear and will be a key player in ensuring robust financial controls and processes are in place and adhered to. You will be action-focused and solution-oriented.

We are a highly relational organisation and this role will require you to engage with the team across the organisation, work collaboratively across the teams while being a super team player.

You will be excellent at understanding people and their motivations and adjusting your style and approach to engage them effectively. You will be adept at appreciating the unique culture of the organisation and balancing it with the discipline and rigour of running a successful business. We are a fast-paced, bold and ambitious organisation and are driven by our values and mission.

Joining us is not just a role in an organisation, it is a choice to join a group of determined and passionate individuals who are focused on tackling persistent inequalities and transforming the systems that surround them. You will be a self-motivated learner, keen to embrace change and own your development.

If you want to bring your experience and expertise to an organisation that’s working to have a positive impact on the world, then we would want to hear from you.

Deborah Jenkins
Managing Director, Innovation Unit

Fred Moon

About Innovation Unit

Innovation Unit is a not for profit social enterprise with a mission to grow and scale the boldest and best innovations that deliver long-term impact for people, address persistent inequalities, and transform the systems that surround them.

We have 17 years of experience doing this work with ambitious partners in local and central government, schools and hospitals, voluntary and community sector organisations, trusts and foundations.

We hold a bold vision: we want to see a world in which all people belong and contribute to thriving societies.

To achieve this vision, we must challenge and change the systems that people who experience disadvantage rely on most.

Our team come from a wide variety of professional backgrounds and life experiences – researchers, service designers and programme managers work alongside colleagues with grass-roots, community experience, as well as occupational therapists, social workers, and central and local government professionals, to design new solutions and take them to scale.

People who work at Innovation Unit share a core set of beliefs about enabling change that is owned and driven by the people it affects. We all work with the tools and methods from our tried and tested formula for innovation and impact.

Our 2024 areas of impact are:

  • Mental health innovation
  • Tackling health inequalities
  • Justice and reducing violence
  • Children and families
  • Place-based transformation

Our strategy

Our future plans

In 2024, we are embarking on the next phase of our evolution to maximise our positive impact on the world. Like everyone else, the past four years have been tumultuous and challenging for our team and for our work. We are relieved and grateful to have survived and learnt a vast amount as an organisation and in our personal lives too. Now, we are looking to grow our team and strengthen it further by securing new perspectives, experiences and skills to challenge and bolster our work.

Since early 2020, we are proud to have contributed to COVID-19 response and learning with our partners, helped to design forward differently for the future, honed our virtual delivery skills, looked after each other and kept our brilliant team together.

At the end of 2023, we reflected on what all this adds up to for our future as an organisation. In a world of stark inequalities, big social challenges, and lots of ‘bright spots’ illuminating new possibilities, where are the places, how and with whom should we be seeking to work to help grow a world in which ‘all people belong and contribute to thriving societies’?

The final year of our current 5-year strategy is about being ‘cautious and getting ready to sprint’ – we understand that as the world continues to change around us, we must be strong in our values, bold in our offer, cautious in our investments and flexible in our responses to opportunities and challenges as they arise.

At the heart of this strategy is, of course, our mission, ‘to grow and scale the boldest and best innovations that deliver long-term impact for people, address persistent inequalities and transform the systems around them’.

Our big insight is that over the next few years, we must become more embedded in the systems we want to help change if we are going to realise our mission. This means doubling down in the places and markets we are already working in to deepen our understanding, impact and influence, alongside extending our reach, growing some new skill sets and evolving our business model to be able to hang around with our partners for the long term.

There is lots that we are already doing, which we are going to stick at: helping to grow and scale powerful innovations in children’s social care and adult mental health, that have an impact in the short to medium term – and are beginning to disrupt and challenge the systems they are embedded in. Living Well and Strengthening Families are powerful examples of this. We will continue to build long-term relationships with local systems committed to deep change and will strengthen our voice, nationally, to influence public debates with our learning about the future of children’s social care and adult mental health systems.

We will continue our work on innovation programmes that identify, nurture and help to spread innovation, to adopt and adapt innovations that have already been shown to be successful and enable place-based transformation that really sticks.

So far so familiar. In addition, we will be stretching our reach into justice and violence reduction, and looking more specifically at health and care inequalities. These changes build directly on our learning and experience to date – our first major programme in justice and violence and reduction is Always Hope, working with care experienced young people given prison sentences to reimagine the experience of leaving prison to enable them to thrive.

We will also be evolving our offer to partners – Learning Partnerships have always been in our DNA and are now an explicit part of what we offer. You cannot grow and scale innovations and transform systems without consciously learning your way forward.

Finally, we are evolving our business model to travel with our partners over the long term – not as consultants who come in and out – but as committed investors and partners in the future of a place. We are proud to be co-leading GoodLives GM – a strategic partnership with the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, that tackles inequalities by removing barriers to community-led innovation.

As we expand into new areas and types of work, we need more and different perspectives, skills and experience to pull it off. That is why we are recruiting to many different levels of our organisation – and are explicitly recruiting for diversity, for learning experts to join our team, alongside generalists with professional and lived experience of the places and systems in which we work.

Working at Innovation Unit asks you to bring your whole self to your work – your skills, experiences, opinions, strengths and weaknesses, to contribute in your own way to a powerful mission, with a brilliant team and to learn more about yourself along the way.

If this sounds like an opportunity and challenge that excites you, please get in touch.

We look forward to meeting you.

Mental Health Innovation - Living Well UK

Living Well systems are designed to help people recover and stay well as part of their community. They are a response to mental health systems in the UK that have struggled for a long time to provide person-centred, holistic support, where and when it is needed.

National Lottery Community Fund funded the Innovation Unit to support four pioneering places in the UK to design and build Living Well systems of support for good mental health and well-being (2018-22), inspired by Lambeth Living Well, South London.

We helped our sites generate insights about people’s lives, then used this new knowledge to co-design and prototype new multidisciplinary teams, implement them successfully, and, finally, scale (extend and grow) them across whole places. We coached

leaders and their teams as they introduced difficult changes, and helped build local capabilities to ensure that new ways of working can be sustained long after our work is complete.

Since then, the movement has grown and is now influencing and supporting the transformation of adult community mental health across Derby and Derbyshire County, Greater Manchester, Edinburgh and York.

“I’ve been in health and social care for over 25 years and it’s without a doubt been the best and most life-changing piece of work I’ve been involved in.”

Salford Senior Leader

Place-based transformation - GoodLives GM

GoodLives GM grew from conversations with brilliant innovators across Greater Manchester. They identified common barriers to embedding community-led innovation. Together, we are exploring and learning how a system-shifting capability could help them tackle these barriers.

GLGM is facilitated by a strategic partnership between Greater Manchester Combined Authority and Innovation Unit. Our work is steered by VCSE and public sector colleagues, working closely with the 10 GM localities.

We are currently working on behalf of GM in relation to Live Well, a programme of work aiming to reduce health inequalities by growing community-led support for healthy lives. The GLGM team

have been supporting five GM localities to anticipate the system barriers they will encounter and design-in collaboration and experimentation to overcome them.

We are also working with four trailblazer localities regards Early Family Help to reduce inequalities through community-led support that helps families to flourish.

All underpinned by a new kind of leadership collaborative. Supported through 1:1 and group coaching and a programme of learning opportunities whilst trios of leaders conduct system-shifting experiments to rebuild structures and cultures.

“Good Lives GM provides a framework, the knowledge, and creates the networks to turn this quiet appetite for innovation into real confidence to innovate and ultimately needed change for communities.”

Participant | GLGM Leadership Collaborative

Accessibility information

We understand that different members of the community have different access needs and have made some modifications to the way we do business to accommodate people from diverse communities and abilities.

Our accessibility provisions include:

  • Step-free access to the building, all key meeting rooms and bathrooms, and an accessible workstation.
  • Accessibility dogs are welcome.
  • Interviews can be held in meeting rooms that support hearing loops.
  • Papers and materials can be presented in different formats.
  • A sign language interpreter can be accessed for interviews.
  • Working patterns and locations can be adjusted.

Applicants with a disability are invited to contact us in confidence at any point during the recruitment process to discuss steps that could be taken to overcome operational difficulties presented by the role, or if any adjustments or support are required regarding the recruitment process.

If you would like to have an informal conversation about this opportunity, you can email our advising consultant at Peridot Partners to arrange a call:

    To access a full job description and application details,
    please fill out the form below.


    Thank you for your interest in this role. Please download the Job Information Pack.

    To formally apply, please submit a CV and supporting statement (ideally maximum 2 sides of A4 each) that clearly outlines your suitability for the role against the criteria provided in the person specification, including your interest and motivation in applying for this position.

    Please ensure that your application is emailed to response@peridotpartners.co.uk inserting “Application: Innovation Unit – Head of Finance” into the subject field.

    Please note: The postholder will need to be able to start with us at the beginning of September 2024; thus we seek those who are immediately available, or with a notice period of up to one month maximum. Please ensure your application highlights your current notice period and availability.

    You will receive an acknowledgement on receipt of your application within 2-3 days. If you do not receive an acknowledgement, please make contact with our admin team.

    If you would like to have an informal conversation about this opportunity, you can email our advising consultant at Peridot Partners to arrange a call:

    As a sector-leading executive search consultancy, we know the importance of creating recruitment processes which are fair, inclusive and free from bias. We are committed to promoting equality and diversity and developing a process that values differences.

    If you have a disability that meets the definition set out in the Equality Act 2010, and you can show that you meet the ‘essential’ criteria described in the person specification, please let us know.

    If you experience any technical or accessibility difficulties, need help making an application, or have any additional support that needs to be considered as part of the interview and selection process, please let us know.

    Recruitment selection processes are based on evidence of competence stated in the person specification and in relation to our values.

    Due to the nature of our work with children and vulnerable adults, Innovation Unit operates a Safer Recruitment policy. All offers of employment will be made on the condition of a DBS check being carried out and we will ask for two references.


    Closing date: 9 a.m. Monday 22nd July 2024
    Candidates informed of outcome: By COB Monday 29th July 2024
    First stage interviews (virtual): Wednesday 31st July 2024
    Final stage interviews (in person – London): Monday 5th August 2024

    Equal Opportunities Monitoring

    Peridot and Innovation Unit are committed to promoting equality and diversity. To help us raise awareness and support a culture that is diverse and recognises and develops the potential of all, we need to appreciate the profile of candidates who apply for positions. We will send you an equality monitoring survey at the point of receiving your application, in the interview phase and at the time of placement. This ensures that our processes remain inclusive and equitable throughout, and provides us with important data to help us showcase our impact. The information will be treated confidentially and anonymously and will help us to support our commitment to fair recruitment practices. All information provided will be held in the strictest confidence and will not be shared with anyone, in line with the Data Protection Act 2018. The information provided does not form part of the decision-making process and will not affect your application.

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