August 30, 2017

Director of Research


The Earth and Sky hold a special place in New Zealand society. In Māori mythology, the primordial parents, Ranginui the sky father and Papatūānuku the earth mother, were locked together in a tight embrace until their son Tānemahuta, god of forests and birds, forced his parents apart to let in light and create space for life to grow.

The newly established Centre for Space Science Technology is a Regional Research Institute. Our vision is to help build a higher standard of living for everyone living in New Zealand by honouring both the Earth and the Sky.

By harnessing the power of new and existing space-based measurements of what’s happening on earth, we aim to achieve more equally distributed economic prosperity across the country. We will ensure smart decision making, by delivering superior products and services tailored to New Zealand’s regional industries, and providing enhanced access to them. High quality research developed from Earth observation data will drive our efforts and is fundamental to CSST’s success.


CSST needs a Director of Research with the commitment, experience and vision to support this goal.

We want a highly experienced and globally-connected researcher with leadership skills and a deep appreciation of what Space, Earth observation data and downstream applications offer to New Zealand.

This position is a unique opportunity for you to oversee all research undertaken within CSST, and to shape the development of its products and services. It’s a unique role that comes with a challenge: you get to make an impact in a new sector of New Zealand’s growing economy.

We also plan to do research differently at CSST. You and your team won’t be cloistered in a lab, but instead will work closely with industry and the community to discover, invent and build what is in the best interests of New Zealand society. Ideas may come from internal projects as well as collaborations with partner universities, research institutes and companies all over the world.

You will report directly to the Chief Executive and interact and collaborate regularly with the CSST Board and external stakeholders.

Based in Alexandra in the beautiful South Island of NZ, you will be responsible for:

  • Designing and executing on a Space-based research agenda focused on solving real world problems;
  • Providing leadership for the development of tailored products and services using Earth observation data, in collaboration with industry groups, the broader research community and/or individuals;
  • Bringing together the best teams to support the above tasks;
  • Forming positive relationships with new industry partners;
  • Forming collaborative relationships with other research providers, both in NZ and abroad.

As the first Director of Research, your immediate priorities include:

  • Establishing an industry and research Advisory Board, in consultation with the CEO and Board of Directors.
  • Working with the CEO and Director of Commercial Operations, to initiate the process for Expressions of Interest (EOI) for Products & Services.
  • Leading the vetting of EOI responses, according to criteria set in collaboration with the CEO.
  • Working with the allied organisations to find the best teams to bring the products or services to fruition.
  • Building an outstanding research team within CSST.
  • Working with the CEO to determine where CSST-built satellites are required to fill data gaps, identified through the EOI process.

This is a full-time role.


Professional – High level of integrity with an objective and egoless leadership style, allowing others to stay focused on accomplishing goals.

Driven – Committed to achieving the goals of the organisation and responsibilities of the role. Wiling to persist until success is achieved.

Open minded and adaptive – Experienced at looking at things through a different lens and accepting that there are a variety of ways to achieve outcomes. Agile in thinking, approach to work and achieving goals.

Unbiased – Able to remain objective, providing no preferential treatment in collaborations with other organisations.

Clear, Comfortable Communicator – Comfortable communicating and connecting with others at different levels; listening and integrating feedback into the decision-making process around the development of products and services.

Team Builder – Proven ability to build a sense of team purpose and team morale, helping clearly outline team and individual responsibilities and making people feel both safe as well as challenged. Helping team members achieve both their own as well as the organisation’s potential.


  • A high level of applied scientific understanding to oversee a robust data-intensive research programme, valuable not only to CSST, but also to the organisations allied with CSST and New Zealand society.
  • Well connected within both the national and international scientific community.
  • A proven ability to foster collaborations with organisations, both within New Zealand and internationally, including a clear strategy to highlight why partnering with CSST would be mutually beneficial.
  • Experience in building/developing high performing, cohesive teams.
  • A record of proven and effective leadership skills, with a minimum of five years of experience in a leadership-based position.
  • A proven track record of peer reviewed publications in respected scientific journals.
  • Good understanding of international space and Earth observation sectors.
  • Experience in Machine Learning, Data Mining or Machine Intelligence (Artificial Intelligence) and the ability to program in one or more of the following: C, C++, Python.
  • Someone who will embody the values of CSST: smart, collaborative, agile, lean, aspirational and generous of spirit.

You can download a PDF version of this position description here.

To apply, please submit your CV and covering letter to:

This position will remain open until the ideal candidate has been found.