Conference Project Manager

The African Astronomical Society (AfAS) is a Pan-African professional society of astronomers registered as a non-profit company in South Africa. It is funded by the South African Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) and physically located at the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO) in Cape Town, South Africa.

The preparations for the IAU General Assembly in August 2024 at the CTICC are well underway (see www.astronomy2024.org). The National Organising Committee, through the African Astronomical Society, is now seeking an experienced Conference Project Manager to help coordinate the remaining phases of the event. Please find details attached (text copied below), and please help us spread the word to anyone who may be interested and who may fit the profile we are looking for.

Conference Project Manager: IAU General Assembly 2024 (Contract)

The International Astronomical Union (IAU) General Assembly 2024 (GA) is to be held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre from the 6th to 15th August 2024 and expects to attract between 2500 and 3500 delegates, 100 accompanying persons and 60 exhibitors. The scientific programme comprises 6 symposia, 12 focus meetings, and 9 division meetings, with each of these meetings having its own scientific organising committee. In addition, there will be 5 IAU Office Institutional meetings and 6 Working Group meetings. This is the first time in the history of the IAU that the conference will be held on the African continent. The host organisation is the National Research Foundation, with strong support from the Department of Science and Innovation and the African Astronomical Society. The venue (CTICC) is secured, and registration was opened on 31 October 2023. For more information about GA2024 and to view current progress in the organisation of the GA2024, visit www.astronomy2024.org.

There are three core aspects that will define this GA: (i) Accessibility – ranging from innovative ways of conferencing to family friendliness to streaming of talks to the public for wider geographic access; (ii) Impact – this is both in terms of enhancing scientific impact and collaborations through creative networking interactions, as well as ensuring societal impact through involvement of small businesses and providing delegates with opportunities for education, outreach and development; and (iii) Environmental Sustainability – this is essentially to answer the question “is it environmentally worthwhile to attend this meeting?” through consideration of all factors from carbon credits to food wastage to building climate resilient communities. Given the strategic and historical importance of this event, the National Organising Committee (NOC) has set high standards for conferencing and is driven by innovation and technology so that the event not only demonstrates the capability of South Africa and Africa to host world-class events but also sets the trend for future meetings.

The NOC now seeks an excellent Conference Project Manager with sufficient experience who will help to coordinate this event. The person will be formally contracted to the African Astronomical Society (AfAS) and report to the NOC. AfAS is a pan-African professional society of astronomers registered in South Africa as a non-profit company [Registration Number: 2020/223188/08]. AfAS is based at the South African Astronomical Observatory, a business unit of the National Research Foundation, and manages key parts of the IAU General Assembly through an agreement with the official host organisation, the National Research Foundation.

Tasks:

  • Manage all aspects related to the implementation of this event and provide regular updates, advice and guidance to the NOC to support their oversight and decision-making roles.
  • Attend meetings (both online and in person) of the NOC and any related meetings with key implementation partners, taking and distributing the minutes of such meetings.
  • Refine, update and oversee the event management Project Plan (with itemised deliverables, timelines and checklists), ensuring the implementation of decisions taken at NOC meetings and other meetings with key implementation partners, and informing the NOC Chairs of any issues or delays.
  • Arrange, manage and coordinate agreements between AfAS and sub-contracted service providers selected by the NOC (including, but not limited to, exhibition infrastructure, sound and technical, marketing material design, production and distribution; as well as venue and facilities) to ensure alignment with the overall aims and objectives of the event.
  • Administer and manage the existing website for the event including but not limited to sourcing reliable web-hosting/web-development services, implementing any website updates/enhancements required, etc;
  • Support the NOC in the management of online abstract submission, registration and the event programme, working closely with the finance manager, supporting staff and registration team.
  • Manage all correspondence and enquiries from delegates and potential delegates and maintain a FAQ on the website.
  • Support the NOC regarding liaison with the venue including but not limited to site walkthroughs as required and on-site coordination during the event (including coordination of relevant on-site subcontractors).
  • Prepare a detailed close-out report for the NOC in accordance with the requirements of the NOC. The details for the content of the report will be provided by the NOC (e.g. financial statements, successes and challenges).
  • Support and liaise with the NOC Finance Committee as required, especially in the management of cash flow, and refining of the current budget for the event, updating it as and when service providers are appointed.
  • Work with the NOC, the CTICC and any relevant stakeholders regarding insurance requirements for the conference.

Minimum Requirements:

  • 10-year experience in conferencing or closely related field including project and financial management experience
  • Demonstrable experience working at the CTICC and related stakeholders
  • Good reputation in the conferencing space (based on references)
  • Excellent communication skills in English (both written and spoken)

Desirable additional education/experience/personal qualities:

  • Demonstrated stakeholder management skills
  • Software/Web development/coding skills
  • Outstanding interpersonal skills and ability to interact diplomatically with people of different cultures
  • Experience with the execution of preparing and sending mailers
  • Experience in social media content development and posting
  • Multilingual

Contract period and monthly salary/fees:

  • The contract will run from the date of appointment until the end of September 2024, depending on satisfactory performance.
  • Monthly salary/fees will be based on the candidate’s qualifications and experience.

All applications should be submitted electronically. Interested persons who meet the requirements should email their detailed Curriculum Vitae with a letter of motivation, and the names and contact details of at least 3 referees, to the head of the AfAS Secretariat, Charles Takalana (charles.takalana@afasociety.org). The selection process will begin after 8th January 2024. For any queries about this position, please contact the Chair of the NOC, Kevin Govender (kg@astro4dev.org).

Correspondence will be conducted with short-listed candidates only.
The filling of this role will be in line with the AfAS Employment Equity goals.