Head of Applied Research - Automation (R&D)

Job Introduction

In September 2020 the new Director-General Tim Davie, set a new BBC priority to create more value from digital, citing the acceleration of these services as essential to our plan to become a digital-first organisation. In our mission to deliver value for all, BBC Research & Development’s role to continually explore and predict how media technology will evolve and how this will impact audiences is paramount to the BBC’s future success.

BBC Research & Development (R&D) is at the heart of the BBC’s digital transformation. It delivers innovation at scale and pace to provide a sustainable foundation for the future BBC as well as adding tangible value to the wider UK media industry.

The R&D department is nearly as old as the BBC and has been integral to the development of technologies including digital television and radio, Freeview, BBC iPlayer, and High Definition. In more recent years it has been key to the evolution and industry direction of technologies like High Dynamic Range, Next Generation Audio and Voice, as well as digital education through the development of the BBC micro:bit and the award-winning Civilisations Augmented Reality app.

Role Responsibility

Reporting to the Director of BBC Research & Development, as the Head of Applied Research Automation, you will be responsible for moulding the activity of the capability and technical areas of research. You will be accountable for shaping the rapidly evolving media, news and public service landscape by directing and conducting the research and development needed to create next-generation systems and drive the BBC’s ambitions forward.

This role will be integral to push for the changes needed to ensure that BBC R&D is relevant and relatable both to BBC and industry colleagues and for delivering innovative and transformative solutions across the organisation’s portfolio that support the BBC’s strategic priorities. In addition to technical expertise, you will bring motivational leadership and team-building skills that foster a diverse, inclusive and agile environment that will nurture your team’s growth and personal development.

You will radiate passion and inspiration to your reports, as well as having the management skills, and appetite to execute and deliver initiatives that will drive automation efficiency and ensure that the transformation of BBC’s operating model is a success.

Working closely with a diverse set of cross-functional stakeholders and teams you will implement a research agenda that automates major news and media processes, experiences and industry exchange. Your ability to steer technology and data-driven processes will enable the BBC to shift towards new and improved ways of working and fundamentally alter the way we go about delivering our audience and public service value.

You will be responsible for building and taking ownership of the overall automation vision and strategy across all applied research areas to advance the implementation of algorithmic methods at BBC and unlock their business impact.

As the Head of Applied Research Automation, you will shape research that enables learning the semantics of data (images, video, text, audio, speech and other modalities) and devise better data-driven models of engagement. In parallel, you will be expected to advocate a systematic approach to technology/tool selection around automation processes, including a strong focus on implementing algorithmic automation solutions where possible. You will strive for the alignment of activities across BBC and industry where synergies enable increased efficiency to deliver our departmental objectives, solve problems and demonstrate research solutions and prototypes. In collaboration with research and engineering teams, you will endeavour to transform research prototypes into products that demonstrate quantifiable benefits. In addition, you will make it your mission to explore and create conditions for automated content creation, distribution and experiences which will play a role in creating types of content that we are not using now.

The Ideal Candidate

You’ll be an inspirational leader of diverse, multi-disciplinary teams with the ability to drive
delivery in a fast-moving landscape. As a deep technical expert, you will be able to demonstrate
your leadership in the development of automated technology solutions leveraging Machine
Learning where appropriate, whilst managing and building relationships with a broad range of
stakeholders. You will work in a collaborative way to ensure that these stakeholders understand
and value the world-leading expertise and recommendations of BBC Research & Development.

Package Description

Band: F
Contract type: Permanent
Location: Contractual base can be Salford, London, Cardiff or Glasgow

We’re happy to discuss flexible working. Please indicate your choice under the flexible working question in the application. There is no obligation to raise this at the application stage but if you wish to do so, you are welcome to. Flexible working will be part of the discussion at offer stage.

  • Excellent career progression – the BBC offers great opportunities for employees to seek new challenges and work in different areas of the organisation.
  • Unrivalled training and development opportunities – our in-house Academy hosts a wide range of internal and external courses and certification.
  • Benefits- We offer a competitive salary package, a flexible 35-hour working week for work-life balance and 26 days (1 of which is a corporation day) with the option to buy an extra 5 days, a defined pension scheme and discounted dental, health care, gym and much more.

The situation regarding the coronavirus outbreak is developing quickly and the BBC is keen to continue to ensure the safety and wellbeing of people across the BBC, while continuing to protect our services. To reduce the risk access to BBC buildings is limited to those essential to our broadcast output. From Wednesday 18th March until further notice all assessments and interviews will be conducted remotely. For more information go to

Mae’r sefyllfa gyda’r coronafeirws yn datblygu’n gyflym, ac mae’r BBC yn awyddus i barhau i sicrhau diogelwch a lles pobl ar draws y BBC, gan barhau i warchod ein gwasanaethau hefyd. I leihau’r risg, dim ond y bobl sy’n hanfodol i’n hallbwn darlledu fydd yn cael mynediad i adeiladau’r BBC. O ddydd Mercher 18fed Mawrth ymlaen, bydd pob asesiad a chyfweliad yn cael ei gynnal o bell, nes rhoddir gwybod yn wahanol. I gael mwy o wybodaeth, ewch i

About the Company

We don’t focus simply on what we do – we also care how we do it. Our values and the way we behave are important to us. Please make sure you’ve read about our values and behaviours in the document attached below.

Diversity matters at the BBC. We have a working environment where we value and respect every individual's unique contribution, enabling all of our employees to thrive and achieve their full potential.

We want to attract the broadest range of talented people to be part of the BBC – whether that’s to contribute to our programming or our wide range of non-production roles. The more diverse our workforce, the better able we are to respond to and reflect our audiences in all their diversity. 

We are committed to equality of opportunity and welcome applications from individuals, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, socio-economic background, religion and/or belief. We will consider flexible working requests for all roles, unless operational requirements prevent otherwise.

To find out more about Diversity and Inclusion at the BBC, please click here


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