Program Director (Strategic Initiatives Program)

International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

Vienna, , AT


In support of the IIASA Strategic Plan 2021-2030 and its newly defined research programs, we invite applications for the new opportunity of Program Director of the Strategic Initiatives Program.


Founded in 1972, the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) conducts policy-oriented research into problems of a global nature that are too large or too complex to be solved by a single country or academic discipline. 

IIASA is sponsored by its National Member Organizations (NMO) in Africa, the Americas, Asia, and Europe. Its research is independent and completely unconstrained by political or national self-interest.

Strategic Initiatives Program – Background

The Strategic Initiatives Program is one of six newly defined research programs, together with Advancing Systems Analysis, Climate and Environmental Impacts, Population and Just Societies, Biodiversity and Ecosystem Management and Economic Frontiers. 

The overall aim of the Strategic Initiatives Program is to improve the prospects of a sustainable future for humanity and to deliver transformative policy solutions; to apply systems thinking and analyses to initiate innovative research that transforms the global sustainability research landscape. While this program will draw on the expertise distributed across IIASA programs, its partner organizations and beyond to engage in selected time-bound research projects that leverage the systems analytical capabilities of IIASA, its focus will be to deliver high-impact policy relevant research in emerging areas not emphasized in the other IIASA programs. The focus of the projects in the Strategic Initiatives Program will be determined internally or through consultation with IIASA member countries to prioritize pressing global or regional policy areas or high impact global systems topics.


The successful applicant will work closely with the IIASA Executive and other Program Directors to develop further the vision for the Strategic Initiatives Program, broadening the current research portfolio to support institute-wide cross-cutting research activities.

IIASA Program Directors will provide research vision, innovation, leadership and strategic positioning for their individual programs. Main responsibilities will include: 

  • Guiding and developing a diverse and multidisciplinary team of researchers from within and outside of IIASA, and recruiting additional researchers as funding permits, to conduct scientific research at the highest level.
  • Coordinating allocation of the internal budget and external contracts for the program and attracting external research funding.
  • Contributing to the science-policy discourse, as well as participating in scientific assessment and advisory panels.
  • Developing international and in-house cooperation and networks on economic futures research as it relates to IIASA research topics and programs
  • Contributing to the coordination of capacity development and training activities at the institute.
  • Ensuring continued engagement of the 23 member countries through design of relevant projects/activities and developing initiatives to attract NMOs and donors through scientific excellence and out-of-the-box, trend-setting research.
  • Representing IIASA and interacting with institutions and research partners as well as governmental and funding bodies in member countries and other international organizations within the IIASA network.
  • Ensuring effective collaborations within their own program and across other IIASA programs/groups.
  • Entrenching IIASA research principles into their programs, while ensuring that program objectives are met and are aligned with the IIASA Strategy and institute values.

Skills and requirements

Scientific excellence, visionary thinking, and management skills in interdisciplinary research and policy applications within an international setting are prerequisites for this position.

In particular, candidates should have:

  • A doctoral degree or equivalent combined with a background in interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research, preferably related to sustainable development research in the contexts of human well-being, equity and global change.  
  • Extensive experience (preferably at least 20 years) in an international and multicultural research or academic environment, inclusive of PhD training.
  • Extensive publications in peer-reviewed journals, as well as experience in policy-related analyses.
  • Wide experience and proven track record in attracting international research funding.
  • Strong networking skills with global, international, and national institutions and experience in interacting with policy and decision makers.
  • At least five years’ experience in a research leadership or staff management position with the ability to lead and inspire a team of researchers from different disciplines.
  • Excellent written and oral communication and interpersonal skills including full fluency in the English language.

Appointment terms

IIASA is offering an initial appointment term of five years as Program Director to successful candidates. This may be renewable for a further term of five years subject to an evaluation by the IIASA Executive. 

Appointments will be offered on a full-time basis only.

At the end of their term as a Program Director, successful applicants can opt to join the scientific career track at IIASA.

It is foreseen that selected designated candidates will formally take up their positions at least by January 1, 2021.


  • A competitive salary which is exempt from taxation in the host country of Austria (subject to the principle of income aggregation).
  • Educational subsidies for children of school age enrolled in private schools in Austria.
  • A generous annual leave allowance Tax free shopping privileges.
  • Moving and settlement allowances and paid home leave for employees in scientific and professional categories hired from international locations (rules apply).
  • Assistance for newcomers to Austria with visa, work and residency permit applications.
  • Support finding accommodation in Austria.