Executive Assistant – Directorate

Closing Date: 20.05.2019 Reference ID: DF01/2019 Salary: £30,000 min.

About TSL

The Sainsbury Laboratory (TSL) is a world-leading research institute working on the science of plant-microbe interactions.

The Laboratory has developed an enviable reputation for the quality of its fundamental scientific research but is also committed to delivering science solutions that reduce crop losses to important diseases.

TSL favours daring, long-term research and has state-of-the- art technologies and support services to enable cutting-edge science.  The Laboratory provides an outstanding training environment that prepares postgraduate students, postdoctoral scientists and early career project leaders to excel in their careers.  Many scientists who have passed through the Laboratory have continued their careers in prestigious laboratories and institutes around the world.

The Laboratory is led by the Executive Director, Professor Nick Talbot, who is supported by the Head of Administration and the HR and Administrative teams.

Purpose of the role

This role provides a full range of professional administrative and PA services to the Office of the Executive Director and Head of Administration.

The person specification for this role can be found here (downloadable pdf).

Executive PA function:

  • Manage Professor Talbot’s complex diary
  • Coordinate and manage Professor Talbot’s speaking and travel engagements, including booking appropriate transportation, arranging accommodation and liaising with host institutions in the UK and abroad
  • Organising meetings with international collaborators, research staff and research funders and drafting agendas, reports and minutes as required
  • Respond to emails on behalf of Professor Talbot where appropriate and keeping track of pending emails requiring further actions. Independent responsibility for dealing with general email enquiries received from external and internal sources
  • Drafting general correspondence, data production and analysis and draft report writing
  • Acting as a point of contact and information for researchers in Professor Talbot’s research group
  • Assisting Professor Talbot’s laboratory manager in the smooth running of his research group, including the organisation of meetings and travel schedules for researchers and the financial oversight of research projects
  • Oversee and follow-up travel and expense claims for Professor Talbot and updating records as necessary
  • Deal with incoming and outgoing post for Professor Talbot, passing on correspondence where appropriate
  • Responsibility for running the Executive Office, including oversight of the purchasing of equipment and offices supplies, processing purchase orders and invoices (in consultation with the Admin Support Assistant)
  • Day to day supervision of Administration Support Assistant, including delegation of tasks as appropriate
  • Maintain local administrative records to facilitate the storage and retrieval of financial information
  • Assist the Head of Administration in a range of administrative functions, including diary management, administration of project funding, co-ordination of meetings and the Annual Science Review, to include drafting agendas, attendance at meetings and production of minutes, and the smooth running of the Company Secretary function
  • Coordination of a suite of administrative support functions to members of the Senior Executive team and Science Group Leaders, in consultation with the Administration Support Assistant
  • Liaison with other members of the Administration and HR teams as required

Professional and Quality Assurance:

  • Ensuring the highest standard of record keeping, maintaining accurate, complete, and up to date records.
  • Ensuring confidentiality is maintained as necessary
  • Attending and minuting Institutional and other meetings as appropriate
  • Acting at all times in accordance with the highest professional standards and ensuring that these are maintained in the delivery of all aspects of TSL activities
  • Adhering to and following at all times the policies and inclusive culture of TSL
  • The post holder has a responsibility to carry out their duties in a resource efficient way and actively support TSL policies and objectives within the remit of their role
  • The post holder will maintain an awareness and observation of Fire and Health & Safety Regulations


  • As responsibilities evolve, the job description will be reviewed and amended in consultation with the post holder.
  • The post holder will carry out any other duties as are within the scope, spirit and purpose of the job as requested by the Executive Director or Head of Administration.

Salary and conditions of employment

We offer a salary within the University of East Anglia ALC Grade 6 scale at a minimum of £30,000 per year.  The exact level of appointment will reflect knowledge, experience and skills.

The position will initially be an indefinite, full-time appointment

Appointment is subject to satisfactory references and a 6-month probationary period.

Benefits include 30 days annual leave plus 10.5 days public and privilege holidays.  Employees are also eligible to join the Universities Superannuation Scheme.

Applicants should provide a CV, including the names and contact details of two referees, and a covering letter addressing the selection criteria. Applications may be submitted online using the ‘Apply’ button below. Alternatively, please send formal applications, quoting the reference number DF01/2019, either by email to or by post to Kim Wood, HR Manager, The Sainsbury Laboratory, Norwich Research Park, Norwich, NR4 7UH.