Senior Program Officer, Country Strategy & Execution, Africa

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Location
    Seattle, Washington
  • Sector
    Non Profit
  • Experience
    Mid Career / Advanced
  • Posted
    Jan 28

Position description

The goal of the foundation’s Agricultural Development (AgDev) program is to support country-led inclusive agricultural transformation across Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. The program focuses on four strategic goals that help drive agricultural transformation and that ensure this transformation is inclusive: increasing agricultural productivity for smallholder farmers (SHF); increasing SHF household income; increasing equitable consumption of safe, affordable, and nutritious diets year-round; and increasing women’s empowerment in agriculture. The foundation invests in this sector and in these ways because increasing productivity in agriculture has proven to be more effective at lifting people out of poverty than growth in other sectors.

This position sits on the AgDev Africa team under the management of the Deputy Director, Africa, Agricultural Development.

Leadership & Culture

Our culture shapes our choices about what we do and how we do it. We believe that energized people, working well together, fueled by great leadership in an inclusive environment can do extraordinary things. We expect foundation employees to intentionally and consistently embody our four agreements; show respect, offer trust, be transparent, and create energy.

Position Summary

The primary responsibility of the Senior Program Officer is to assist the development of the team’s African country objectives through our direct engagement and partner network. This includes:

  • Development and continual refinement of country strategy. In partnership with the portfolios across the team, you will lead the development and support the execution of country-specific implementation plans that leverage our country engagement strategy and in-country partnerships.
  • Lead strong and complex working relationships with institutional partners such as AGRA to ensure strategic alignment and strong synergies. Ensuring integration and consistency between our portfolios and in-country engagement.
  • Driving consistency across our internal and external partnerships, ensuring that execution plans in African countries aligns with a common framework and that engagements are coordinated in a way that increases the impact of our portfolio. Adapt the strategy per the context specific needs of the portfolio teams and the countries we work in.
  • In collaboration with portfolio leads, you will evaluate the evidence and pathways to agriculture development to drive prioritization of our portfolio across countries of engagement.
  • Provide institutional support to critical partners to ensure strong operational health along with a collation of findings and evaluations of their programmatic impact against our results framework.
  • Take ownership of operational plans, goal setting and integration across a matrix of priorities. Serve as lead for Africa team representation among highly internal working initiatives.

Core Knowledge & Skills

You are a creative, thoughtful and curious leader who has an excellent track record of achievement in roles of increasing responsibility. You should be prepared to work across a diverse set of disciplines, bridging a wide range of expertise, with a demonstrated ability to work with agility, efficiency and diplomacy in a dynamic environment. Additionally, we seek:

  • Deep knowledge of African agriculture and the proven ability to catalyze change in addressing development challenges for smallholder farmers.
  • Strong capacity in systems thinking, structured problem solving and business planning; with an ability to synthesize disparate information and critically analyze development challenges.
  • Knowledge of strategy development and implementation, including experience leading change management programs and/or initiatives within large institutions.
  • Communication skills to create high quality documents, analysis, briefs and presentations to explain new opportunities and priorities for agriculture development to diverse audiences.
  • Curiosity and comfort in areas beyond current area(s) of expertise, with capability to rapidly acquire knowledge and use good judgement in a variety of areas.
  • Ability to prioritize work and meet deadlines within a fast-paced environment with multiple and competing demands.
  • Excellent partnership building and stakeholder management skills and judgement. Experience working with diverse teams including scientists, program implementers and in country staff and partners.
  • An attitude that guides and motivates the team to explore new approaches and partners and to take risks that can potentially accelerate our pathway to improve lives of small-scale producers.
  • Exceptional results orientation combined with excellent relationship management skills.
  • Willing to travel internationally 30%
  • Commitment to the foundation’s core values, mission and programs with an approach that is consistent with the foundation’s guiding principles while holding oneself to the highest ethical standards.

Education & Experience

  • 10+ years of experience in roles of increasing responsibility in agricultural development in donor, public or private sector organizations coupled with experience working in Sub-Saharan Agriculture.
  • Bachelor’s or other advanced degree. MBA preferred.

Application instructions

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