Director of Finance

About CIFAR:

CIFAR convenes extraordinary minds to address science and humanity’s most important questions.

By supporting long-term interdisciplinary collaboration, CIFAR provides researchers with an unparalleled environment of trust, transparency and knowledge sharing. Our time-tested model inspires new directions of inquiry, accelerates discovery and yields breakthroughs across borders and academic disciplines. Through knowledge mobilization, we are catalysts for change in industry, government, and society. CIFAR’s community of fellows includes 20 Nobel laureates and 400 researchers from 22 countries. In 2017, the Government of Canada appointed CIFAR to develop and lead the Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence (AI) Strategy.

CIFAR has had a significant impact on the way the world understands such critical issues as early child and brain development, artificial intelligence, building stronger societies, and many others. Our impact comes both from our long-term commitment to leading edge research and our efforts to connect stakeholders with the knowledge our programs produce.

Purpose of Position:

Reporting to the Chief Operating Officer (COO), the Director of Finance is a key member of the Shared Services team and is primarily responsible for: 

  • Providing direction and leadership to the Finance team in overseeing the accounting and financial services of CIFAR;

  • Providing support to senior leadership, Board of Directors, Audit & Finance Committee, Investment Committee, and funders;

  • Understanding and ensuring that the financial reporting requirements of funding contracts and applicable legislation are met through the accurate and timely completion of CIFAR’s financial statements and financial reports;

  • Management of cash flow and investments, ensuring appropriate segregation of funds according to donor restrictions;

  • Development and implementation of enhancements to the internal control environment and to the risk management practices of CIFAR. 

In collaboration with the COO, as a member of the Leadership team, the Director will contribute to the short and long-term strategic goals that are responsive to CIFAR’s needs according to the strategic direction established by the Executive Team and Board of Directors.

Key Responsibilities:

  • Provide direction and oversee all aspects of CIFAR’s accounting and financial reporting systems;

  • Oversee and direct the preparation of the annual operating budget and monitor actual results against budget and report regularly on CIFAR’s financial status;

  • Oversee the annual reporting cycle requirements for all funders as stipulated in contracts and donor agreements;

  • Establish and implement standards and procedures for financial reporting and ensure that all financial and regulatory reporting is completed within established timelines;

  • Lead the on-going financial analysis (including cash and investment position) and forecasting of CIFAR’s financial position;

  • Prepare and present quarterly and annual reports;

  • Keep abreast of and ensure compliance with regulatory and legislative requirements including emerging issues in GAAP;

  • Oversee the preparation for the annual external audit, including the preparation of the audited financial statements;

  • Prepare the annual T3010 Charities filing and oversee the preparation and submission of HST returns;

  • Attend Audit and Finance Committee, and Investment Committee meetings as required and prepare supporting materials;

  • Support the proposal writing process through financial guidance and the review of draft budgets;

  • Review donor agreements and contracts to identify annual reporting requirements;

  • Ensure CIFAR’s insurance coverage is comprehensive, appropriate and in line with risk management policies;

  • Participate in the development of risk management frameworks and risk management assessment, and monitoring;

  • Manage and monitor financial processing activities to identify opportunities for efficiency;

  • Commit and support a culture of excellence and continuous improvement by identifying, recommending and implementing best practices for financial service enhancement;

  • Contribute to the development and maintenance of policies, procedures and practices related to finance, treasury, tax, and risk management on behalf of the organization;

  • Review the internal control environment with the COO on a regular basis and assist with the implementation of enhancements;

  • Reconcile payroll to invoices and bank debits, confirming information on staff changes were billed appropriately;

  • Coach, develop, and mentor finance employees, and identify professional development opportunities to ensure that the team is improving its collective and shared finance expertise;


Education/Experience Required:

  • A university degree in a relevant field and a recognized professional accounting designation (CPA, CGA, CMA).

  • 8+ years relevant work experience required; experience in not for profit/charitable accounting preferred.

Core Professional/Technical Knowledge & Skills Required:

  • Thorough understanding of financial management, including budget administration, financial controls, forecasting and analysis;

  • Experience with tracking and preparing financial reports on restricted funds;

  • Experience in a not-for-profit organization or registered charity; must be familiar with non-profit finance and accounting regulations and charity organization compliance with Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) guidelines;

  • Excellent computer skills, especially Excel and financial accounting software (Accpac preferred);

  • Exceptional written, oral, interpersonal, and presentation skills and the ability to effectively interface with senior management colleagues, the Board of Directors, and staff;>

  • Ability to manage multiple priorities and meet deadlines;

  • Experience with treasury management;

  • Experience with complex funding agreements (or equivalent complexity)

Core Competencies:

  • The ideal candidate has proven experience in financial responsibility for the quality and content of all financial data, reporting and audit coordination for a significant program area;

  • Creative, flexible and adaptable to change combined with an ability to take initiative and lead change;

  • Excellent relationship building skills, with experience collaborating in a multi-disciplinary, diverse, and dynamic team;

  • Strong people management skills to coach, mentor, develop, and retain employees, performance manage, and attract and acquire talent;

  • Ability to translate and explain financial concepts and information – and to effectively collaborate with -- program and advancement colleagues who do not necessarily have finance backgrounds;

  • A successful track record in setting priorities with strong organizational and problem solving skills which support and enable sound decision making;

  • Ability to establish and maintain credibility with a diverse group of stakeholders;

  • Excellent judgment, decision making and creative problem solving skills including negotiation and conflict resolution skills;

  • Personal qualities of integrity, credibility, and dedication;

  • Qualified candidates will ideally possess previous exposure to a research environment and have an understanding of major granting agency guidelines.

Position reports to: Chief Operating Officer (COO)
Term of position:  Permanent      
Start date: As soon as possible
Contact: To explore this key leadership position at CIFAR further, please contact Gaggan Sahota at

To find out more, please visit our website:

One of CIFAR's core cultural values is Diversity - we value diversity and aspire to be inclusive in all aspects of our work.  CIFAR is an equal employment opportunity employer and is strongly committed to removing systemic barriers and biases, and by promoting the practice of inclusivity, so that all individuals have equal access to and benefit from the work we do.  We encourage applications from all qualified individuals and encourage women, members of racialized communities, Indigenous persons, persons with disabilities, and persons of any sexual orientation or gender identity to confidentially self-identify at time of application. 

ACCESSIBILITY FOR APPLICANTS WITH DISABILITIES - CIFAR is committed to providing accommodations throughout the recruitment and selection process to applicants with disabilities, in accordance with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005, and the Ontario Human Rights Code. To request a reasonable accommodation, please email and include the term 'Accessibility' in the Subject Line, or call 416-971-4251. Please provide your name, preferred contact method, and a detailed description of the nature of any accommodation that you may require. Please include any materials or processes that may be used to ensure your equal participation.

CIFAR frequently communicates in both official languages and our preference is to hire employees who are fluent in both English and French where possible.  Other languages are also considered an asset. For a French version of the job posting, please visit

CIFAR is supported by the governments of Canada, Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec as well as international partner organizations, individuals, foundations, and corporations.

We thank you for your interest in working at CIFAR. All applications will be reviewed however, only those candidates selected for an interview will be contacted.