mLab South Africa: Manager

Mobile Applications Laboratory South Africa
Please note: this opportunity closing date has passed and may not be available any more.
Opportunity closing date: 
Saturday, 14 April, 2012
Opportunity type: 

The Mobile Applications Laboratory (mLab) is a mobile applications laboratory supported by Nokia, DST and infoDev (World Bank) that incubates innovation and entrepreneurship in mobile apps and content services in the region.

mLab Southern Africa managed by a consortium consisting of the CSIR Meraka Institute, the Innovation Hub and Ungana-Afrika seeks to appoint an mLab South Africa Manager, based at the Innovation Hub in Pretoria.

Scope of work

The mLab Southern Africa is one of a series of five regional mobile application laboratories, in Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe. These mLabs will facilitate demand-driven innovation by grassroots entrepreneurs so that breakthrough low-cost, high-value applications can be developed.

Each mLab will be a platform for developing the technical skills, business and personal relationships needed to build scalable mobile solutions into thriving businesses that address social needs. As well as providing state of the art equipment, the labs will offer technical training and workshops and connect developers and entrepreneurs with potential investors, academic experts, and public sector leaders.

The mLab Southern Africa is a focal point run and used by Africans working to increase the competitiveness of innovative enterprises working in mobile content and applications. It offers a space and facilitates events where local and regional companies, technologists and experts can collaborate to develop locally relevant applications that meet user demands.

Main responsibilities

S/he will lead and manage the establishment and growth of the regional mLab, as a self-sustaining organisation, and will manage the implementation and operations of the mLab, including the technical and administrative activities. S/he will represent the mLab within the industry, liaise with stakeholders and industry partners, and carry out the strategy approved by the Steering Committee.

S/he will be responsible for the operation of all aspects of the mLab development including training and accreditation, certification, competition for ideas, business mentoring, access to finance and markets, development and revision of technical standards, testing procedures and laboratory policies; providing technical support to mLab operations and consulting with stakeholders on mobile technology related matters.

S/he will report to the Steering Committee, and will have an ex officio position on the Steering Committee. S/he will also work closely with different mLab consortium members, infoDev team members and other project stakeholders.

This is a one-year, full-time contract position renewable.


  • Develop a community of mobile innovation developers and position the mLab at the centre of providing value to that community by strengthening the profile of the mLab within the mobile development community, collaborating closely with existing technical community initiatives, and by forming strategic partnerships with the source of promising technical and entrepreneurial talent (such as key tertiary institutions);
  • Drive the development of the Business Plan based on a sustainable business model and stated objectives of the mLab;
  • Oversee the implementation and establishment of the mLab according to the Business Plan by ensuring that strategic and financial objectives are met; plan continual development and growth of the mLab over time;
  • Identify and secure appropriate revenue/funding for implementation of the mLab Business Plan so that financial and growth objectives are met;
  • Optimally leverage the mLab facility at The Innovation Hub and extend reach through appropriate events and virtual support;
  • Build and manage strategic stakeholder relationships with industry, academia and government partners to enable the delivery of mLab services and to position the mLab as a key player in the mobile space in Southern Africa;
  • Develop the necessary relationships with implementation partners in Southern Africa, Africa and internationally to ensure that the benefits of the mLab are not just local but also regional and global, and to collaboratively develop best-practice knowledge of how to establish and operate Mobile Application Laboratories;
  • Develop working relationship to collaborate with other mLabs, especially the Eastern Africa Lab, on common issues of training, certification and resource sharing;
  • Ensure that the mLab is well presented and its services are well marketed;
  • Remain abreast of developments in the mobile sector, and actively seek to understand the needs of mobile entrepreneurs and other mLab clients and ensure that mLab services are appropriately aligned;
  • Ensure that mLab services are effective and efficient, by monitoring and evaluating service delivery and taking corrective action where necessary;
  • Manage mLab service processes and practices for mobile entrepreneurs including the processes for identifying and selecting suitable high growth potential clients; and supporting entrepreneurs to overcome business and technical challenges;
  • Represent the interests of the mLab incubatees when negotiating with industry bodies, and advocate for a policy framework that supports the development of mobile enterprises;
  • Formulate strategies to collaborate with educational institutes to accelerate the formation of mobile developer communities and mobile applications development;
  • Provide leadership in the implementation of the mLab including the appointment and management of staff and/or consultants; financial oversight; operations oversight;
  • Establish a productive and service-oriented working environment through positive leadership and by resolving grievances raised by staff and users of the mLab;
  • Ensure that the strategy and objectives of the mLab (as set by the Steering Committee) are clearly understood by mLab staff and contractors and that the Steering Committee is updated on the operational aspects of the mLab and informed about any issues that may be sensitive or strategic in nature;
  • Manage and execute policies and procedures of the mLab as approved by the Steering Committee;
  • Prepare and present reports and other documentation as requested by the Steering Committee.


  • Business degree such as B.Comm and/or MBA or a business oriented degree in science or engineering from a recognised educational institution;
  • Minimum of five years of middle to senior management experience either in a small, medium or large business. A proven track record of general management must be evident in the career of the candidate, including: a) Strategic management including demonstration of substantial responsibility for strategic direction setting and implementation; b) Strong business growth stemming from effective management; c) Positive human resource management (including career development; mentoring and coaching experience); d) Sound financial management; e) Effective operational management; f) Marketing and communication;
  • Entrepreneurial experience, preferably having developed mobile applications and started and/or run a business;
  • Previous involvement in the development of high-tech start-ups (ideally through a business incubator), and to have experience in mobile education, training and certification will be an advantage;
  • Knowledge of how to bring the R&D and software development fraternities together and an understanding of the challenges of commercialisation in a dual economy will be beneficial;
  • Experience in implementing technology solutions that have broad-based social benefit will be an advantage;
  • Leadership skills and an ability to motivate and lead teams and engender trust, both locally and through online environments;
  • Evidence of networking ability. Will be an advantage to have established networks with the mobile and business communities in the region;
  • Self-motivated and able to demonstrate strong leadership;
  • Abilities and skills in negotiation and conflict resolution, as well as in organisational planning;
  • Analytical, evaluative and problem-solving personality with the ability to multi-task within tight deadlines;
  • Knowledge of the issues of distributed team work (remote meetings, resource sharing, monitoring tools); should have experience in online tools for distributed collaboration; should respond to email quickly, share information efficiently with all relevant stakeholders;
  • Excellent communication ability with strong project management, presentation and consultation skills. These skills will be used to prepare project reports, briefing notes, correspondence, presentations and responses to information requests from internal and external stakeholders;
  • Strong knowledge of mobile industry ecosystem, and preferably a strong interest in mobile applications and content targeting emerging markets;
  • Active involvement in technology start-up or developer communities, initiatives and/or other activities supporting the development of mobile innovation ecosystems;
  • Excellent written and spoken English;
  • Willingness to local and international travel;
  • Willingness to work outside of business hours to meet deadlines or address issues that could compromise on the achievement of strategic and financial objectives or service delivery;
  • Results oriented abilities, regardless of the resources available.

This is a challenging position that requires an entrepreneurial approach and a commitment for helping new and emerging businesses in the region. Nonetheless, with good funding to establish the mLab, the position offers exciting long term prospects and growth for the right person.

Apply online, refer to Position Ref: 301102

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