Researcher (Bilingual French/english) - helping cities become digital-first and fit for the future

How could we support a network of 12 cities to become leading tech-enabled cities, fit for the future by learning from each other and participatory design? 

Data ethics, digital voting, e-mobility, tech-enabled waste-collection...these are the kinds of challenges a network of twelve cities across Africa will be tackling, together. Over a 3-year research and action programme, they’ll be collaborating and building up local stakeholder relationships to radically transform how the cities operate. 

Convened by the French Development Agency, the African Smart Towns Network (ASToN) is a flagship programme and the first of its kind for the French Government. Brink is looking for a bilingual English / French researcher to support phase 1 of the ASToN programme, a baseline study of the 12 cities. We’ll go on tour to each of the cities to uncover their present situation, the challenges and opportunities ahead, and identify the stakeholders they must bring along to be successful. 

Your role will be to help design a research methodology, then accompany the programme’s Lead Expert on visits to each of the 12 cities, from Mozambique to Morocco. You’ll help conduct interviews and focus groups, gather qualitative and quantitative data, and make sense of it all for a non-expert audience in an accessible written report that will influence and lead to action.

Whether you’ve been a researcher-practitioner at think-tank; you come from an innovation or systems-thinking research background and want to put your skills to use making meaningful impact in the world; or you’re just someone who has been involved in designing and conducting studies and would like to further develop your skillset, we’d love to hear from you. We find the work and the challenge ahead truly exciting and we hope you do too. 

The ideal candidate will be able to demonstrate: 

1. Research design and method

  • Fluency in multiple research methods: has a ready toolkit of quant and qual methods and can blend them to create a methodology that’ll fit the task

  • Agnostic on method: understands that rigour can take a number of forms and will shape the research to bring the best results 

  • Can work at pace: gathering data in real time from interviews and group stakeholder meetings, able to quickly process and synthesise it into clear findings

2. Subject expertise and interest

  • Experience and knowledge in any or all of: 

    • Digital innovation

    • Cities and place-based challenges concerning citizens and governments

    • Systems thinking, systems design, human-centred design

    • African urban development and local government contexts

    • Tech ethics, particularly for citizens and governments

3. Communication

  • Bilingual English and French, written and spoken: You’ll be conducting interviews in both languages, writing studies and shaping communications to a range of audiences from local residents to national politicians and everyone in between. 

  • Crafts a story: can cut through complex information to craft a compelling story, backed by evidence and coloured with lived experiences.

4.   Interpersonal skills (being a ‘Brinkster’):

  • Is ‘interoperable’: quickly establishes rapport with all kinds of people and works with empathy for the goals of the team and the work

  • Enjoys making others shine: Brink is a low-ego zone that thrives on making our colleagues, clients and collaborators shine

  • Adapts along the way: knows how to test and learn across a series of city visits and is really happy to let stuff go when it doesn't quite hit the mark

  • Global outlook: has lived and worked abroad or is well-travelled, able to understand an African context and cultural sensitivities that’ll be a part of this work

Initial 7 month contract, ideally starting w/c 16th September, with potential to extend. We will consider flexible or part-time arrangements, however the researcher must be available for travel to the city visits.

Annual salary range: £30,000-£34,000

If you’re interested in applying, please submit:

  • a CV with covering letter outlining why you’re interested, what you’d bring to this role

  • your salary expectations

  • two examples of your writing, one in English and one in French. Remember, the writing style we are looking for is accessible and engaging, rather than academic journal.

  • Please also confirm you are eligible to work in the UK.

Send everything to before the deadline on Monday 19th August with the email subject: I’d like to be your Researcher

  • 9am BST Monday 19th August: deadline for applications 

  • Wednesday 21st August: Shortlisted candidates notified

  • w/c 26th August: Interview with Brink team on 28th or 29th August

  • Friday 30th August: Outcome announced and finalist(s) invited to meet Brink team 

Questions candidates often ask us:

How many years of experience does the Researcher need to have? 

This role is much less about years of experience, and much more about someone who would like to stretch their wings on qualitative research methodologies and who is looking to move into more impactful work. It’s a fantastic opportunity to work on a flagship programme on a standalone piece of research that will help shape cities for years to come.

Does the Researcher need to have international development experience?

While development experience is desirable, at Brink we also believe in the power of ‘not knowing how things are done around here’ and welcome candidates who would like to apply proven relevant expertise to a new challenge. For this work, we’re looking for expertise and passion in at least two of the subject areas and are comfortable that you may not have experience in all of them.

Where is this role based?

This role is London-based with a high volume of travel to each of the 12 cities in Africa, and potentially to management meetings in Paris or Kampala.