Head of Communications

Applications procedure
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    Professional (P-4)
    Tokyo, Japan
    UTC +9

    About UN University

    For the past four decades, UNU has been a go-to think tank for impartial research on the pressing global problems of human survival, conflict prevention, development, and welfare. With more than 400 researchers in 13 countries, UNU’s work spans the full breadth of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, generating policy-relevant knowledge to effect positive global change. UNU maintains more than 200 collaborations with UN agencies and leading universities and research institutions across the globe.

    About the Office of Communications

    The Office of Communications (OC) at UNU Centre in Tokyo implements and oversees UNU’s communications strategy, including web, visual identity, branding, media relations, and content development/delivery in English and Japanese. The OC works in collaboration with communications focal points across the University’s global network of institutes to meet UNU’s communication goals.

    Specifically, the OC:

    • develops and maintains UNU’s core web platform, with input from institutes and stakeholders
    • employs social media channels to further the reach of UNU’s knowledge products
    • leads development of UNU’s brand/identity and guides its implementation and elaboration
    • establishes the editorial tone and style for core communications outputs (such as the UNU website, Our World blog, annual report, and promotional materials)
    • coordinates local and international media activities with press and media outlets, often in collaboration with focal points and partners
    • provides general support, training, and guidance to UNU’s global network of institutes

    About the Head of Communications

    UNU is searching for a Head of Communications at its Headquarters in Tokyo, Japan to lead the OC team and channel the communications resources of UNU’s broader global network towards the achievement of one overarching goal: to shape, package, and deliver UNU’s products and expertise to maximise impact, effect positive change, and drive further demand for UNU’s work.

    The OC, supported by stakeholders from across the UNU system, is also currently leading a project to collaboratively redevelop UNU’s brand and online presence. Underpinned by a recent rebranding exercise, the UNU Web Platform Development Project aims to combine all UNU institutes’ primary websites (30+) together onto the same platform, redevelop shared databases, and create a cohesive UNU web experience through similar design and user experience. The Head of Communications is responsible for guiding this large project to a successful conclusion.


    Reporting to the Executive Officer, Office of the Rector, the Head of Communications will also:

    • facilitate and improve joint communication efforts between UNU’s 12 global institutes to support the achievement of the objectives outlined in UNU’s Global Communications Strategy: increase UNU’s research uptake – and resulting policy impact – through innovative, targeted and tailored communications campaigns
    • directly manage a team of eight in Tokyo and coordinate a communications network of 40+ individuals located across five continents; create team, individual, and project-specific work plans outlining objectives, expectations, and deadlines; coordinate weekly updates, monthly all-hands calls, and annual retreats
    • solicit, aggregate, and present UNU’s global communications metrics biannually; make changes and adjustments to the strategy as needed
    • improve UNU’s brand and online presence by ensuring the ongoing UNU Web Platform Development project stays on schedule and on budget while meeting all set objectives
    • boost UNU’s profile by securing regular media coverage; support the drafting and placement of op-eds, conduct global media campaigns to publicise research findings, and increase collaboration with UN media hubs around the world
    • strengthen UNU’s strategic partnerships and stakeholder networks; engage influencers, jointly apply for communications grants, and actively build and refine stakeholder lists
    • provide advice and assistance to the Rector, institute and programme directors, and other senior colleagues regarding public affairs and information/dissemination issues

    Required qualifications and experience

    The successful candidate will have a highly collaborative and diplomatic style and be able to lead teams in an open and positive manner. They will have experience developing and implementing communications strategies, excellent writing/editing and verbal communications skills, and a strong track record as an implementer who thrives on managing a variety of initiatives concurrently. The position requires high energy, maturity, and leadership with the ability to manage conflicts constructively, unify a sometimes divided system, and position communications discussions at both the strategic and tactical levels.

    The position also requires:

    • an advanced university degree (master’s degree or equivalent) in journalism and/or communications, or a first university degree with a relevant combination of academic and professional qualifications
    • demonstrated communications experience of at least seven (7) years, covering areas such as knowledge management and sharing, public policy support and advocacy, website content development and delivery, and use of electronic and other media
    • the ability to take knowledge and research, transform it into engaging stories, and channel it to engage with target audiences to achieve a desired result
    • fluency in English; working knowledge of Japanese would be desirable; knowledge of French or of other official languages of the United Nations would also be desirable
    • the ability to interact with colleagues of diverse national, cultural, and religious backgrounds and with political representatives and diverse communities in both industrialised and developing countries
    • proven commitment to issues of human development and welfare

    UNU is committed to diversity and inclusion within its workforce, and encourages all candidates, irrespective of gender, nationality, religious and ethnic backgrounds, including persons living with disabilities to apply and become part of the organisation.

    UNU has a zero-tolerance policy on conduct that is incompatible with the aims and objectives of the United Nations and UNU, including sexual exploitation and abuse, sexual harassment, abuse of authority and discrimination.


    Approximate net salary (free of tax) of US$ 119,582 including post adjustment.  Post adjustment is subject to change.

    The post carries the standard set of United Nations benefits and entitlements for international positions in the UN Common Systems, including participation in the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund, the possibility of participation in a health insurance programme, education grant, removal expenses and home leave. For more information, please visit www.un.org/Depts/OHRM/salaries_allowances/salary.htm. 

    The Rector reserves the right to appoint a candidate at a level below that is advertised.

    Duration of contract

    This is a full-time fixed-term appointment. The period of initial contract would be for a one-year term with the likelihood of renewal on the basis of excellent performance. The mandatory retirement age in the United Nations is 65 years.

    Staff members of the United Nations University are international civil servants subject to the authority of the Rector and may be assigned to any of the activities or offices of the United Nations University.

    Applications from suitably qualified women candidates and those from developing countries are particularly encouraged.

    Starting date

    As soon as possible.

  • Application Procedure

    Interested applicants are encouraged to apply online and should submit:

    The letter of application should set out how your qualifications and experience match the requirements of the position and must accompany your application. Please include a brief vision of how you believe the Head of Communications can best contribute to advancing the academic study of sustainable development and to informing policy- and decision-making in United Nations and international circles.