The Center for Financial Inclusion at Accion is an independent think tank housed at Accion that works to better serve, protect and empower clients. The organization was founded in 2009 and has had numerous signature programs including hosting the Smart Campaign, the Africa Board Fellows program (now Board Leadership for Impact), the Financial Inclusion Equity Council (FIEC), and the PRFI, among others.
With a new Managing Director in place, CFI is seeking to revitalize its market positioning, building on its strengths in serving clients, but honing its influence model and expanding its influence well beyond the microfinance industry. CFI is currently undertaking a strategy refresh and is expected to launch its new strategy in the first quarter of 2020.
About the Position
As a think tank and knowledge organization, CFI seeks to influence key audiences through knowledge products, convenings, strategic partnerships, and digital engagement. As such, its knowledge and communications function is central to its influence model and advancing the reach and quality of CFI’s technical know-how.
CFI is seeking a candidate who has deep exposure and understanding of the inclusive finance field as well as international development more broadly. The candidate must be adept at crafting technical messaging without significant oversight from technical staff. The candidate must have good judgement, be a strategic thinker, understand the inclusive finance ecosystem and have a proven track record in shepherding high-quality publications and other knowledge products. He/she must be highly motivated, with a strong work ethic and the ability to juggle competing priorities.
Reporting to the Managing Director of CFI and working closely with other team leads in CFI, the Senior Director, Knowledge and Communications at CFI will lead our efforts to develop knowledge products, engage with key policymakers online and offline, as well as identify, analyze, and articulate lessons and leverage digital/social media to share knowledge, as well as organize events and speaking engagements to build a network and influence the sector. The Senior Director, Knowledge and Communications at CFI will also collaborate with the broader Accion communications team on shared communications assets as needed. The Senior Director will also be part of Leadership Team at CFI, which sets the overall direction of the organization.
As a small organization, the candidate is expected to be a team player and should be able to write effectively, oversee a publications committee, and have strong editorial judgement. Previous experience in an editorial capacity in media / journalism is preferred.
The Senior Director reports to the CFI Managing Director and will focus on growing CFI’s distinct positioning and independent voice.
1. Knowledge Creation (25%)
- Bring a point of view – and drive – the creation of materials that capture CFI’s learnings, experiences, and intellectual capital through the creation of a variety of thought leadership pieces.
- Function as CFI’s lead editorial voice. Establish and manage a publications process, including an external review board that is robust and ensures technical, stylistic and effective publications that reach their intended audiences. Ensure that CFI publications are best-in-class.
- Oversee all knowledge product reviews to ensure high quality outputs and consistency of messaging. Products include press releases, blog posts, publications, Web/newsletter features, multi-media products, infographics, and video content.
- Support other parts of CFI as needed to contribute to the team’s thought leadership. Lead story framing, analysis, writing, as well as publication and dissemination. Ensure that the content and team is well represented across CFI’s external platforms, including CFI’s blog, LinkedIn, newsletters, conferences and events.
- Take a proactive and innovative approach to ensuring high quality and consistency across CFI publications, online and media presence.
2. Strategy and management (25%)
Develop and execute a communications strategy for CFI. The strategy should rise above individual deliverables produced by research teams by developing narratives that connect the evidence and the messages.
- Set the direction of CFI’s communications as core to our influence model, in collaboration with CFI program leads, including prioritizing topics for CFI’s current and aspirational work streams.
- Work with the CFI leadership team to align communications with our influence strategy, developing communications channels that are relevant for the different types of stakeholders that CFI aims to influence (regulators, investors, customer advocacy organizations, etc).
- Lead a team responsible for publications, the CFI website, the CFI blog, the CFI social media presence, among other channels.
- Lead a team of communications professionals, providing support, coaching, helping to set priorities and goals, and actively promoting professional development.
- Work with other Accion departments, such as IT, resource development, and communications, to ensure all web assets are maintained and enhanced on an ongoing basis.
- Manage communications elements of CFI’s core and programmatic budgets
3. Messaging and Brand (20%)
- Provide timely and strategic counsel to the Managing Director, CFI and other senior management on positioning, messaging and reputational risk.
- Lead the brand refresh of CFI to align with its new operational strategy and theory of change. Ensure that the CFI brand represents an independent voice. Support the alignment of all programs within CFI to contribute to this brand identity.
- Oversee corporate communications, and coordinates with Accion communications team on media relations.
- Act as a spokesperson, able to represent CFI’s work and engage external audiences with a point of view.
4. Oversee Digital Communications (15%)
- Oversee staff that manage the web and social media content creation.
- Ensure CFI’s online properties are managed with good practice and consistency in quality and voice.
- Re-imagine the CFI digital channels to better serve CFI’s market positioning as a though-leadership organization. This may include updating the website to improve messaging on CFI’s independent voice and prominently feature more timely knowledge creation.
5. Events (10%)
Oversee and organize speaking opportunities for team members at industry convenings around relevant priority topics, to share our insights, influence, generate business, and access expertise.
6. Other (5%)
Support initiatives within CFI as needed such as business development, proposal development, and when appropriate, Accion-wide initiatives related to communications.
- Strong academic and professional credentials. Master’s degree (Communications, International Relations/Public Affairs, Economics, or another related field) preferred. A minimum of 12 years of relevant work experience or equivalent combination of education and experience in communications and media.
- Prior experience in a similar communications function. Thorough knowledge of and practical experience in a range of communications approaches, tools and methodologies essential to planning, executing, and monitoring communications strategies including the latest technologies, Web trends and developments, and the shifting communications environment; prior editorial experience, preferably in journalism desired. State of the art knowledge in the field of communications and public affairs and the ability to address a range of issues, including taking the lead on highly visible and sensitive assignments:
- Strong team management and cross-team collaboration skills: Demonstrated ability to manage/lead others in planning and executing complex communications plans that often require multiple teams. Proven track record of building, managing and coaching teams, and working with staff at all levels to encourage and develop talent. Ability to operate effectively with all levels of staff, both as a team leader and team member. Ability to work across departments and teams and to facilitate collaboration using soft-skills.
- Setting goals and achieving results: Experience setting the direction for a team, overseeing results and ensuring goals are met. Ability to define metrics and monitor progress on achieving results, as well as responsibility for managing day-to-day operations.
- Ability to craft messaging and manage sensitive communications issues. Ability to develop and tailor complex content/information into clear messages in an accessible way to different audiences. Ability to effectively manage sensitive communications challenges that may involve reputational risk to the institution and/or affect the ability of the organization to achieve its objectives
- Exceptional writing, editorial and representation skills. Ability to communicate effectively, including strong writing skills, and experience publicly representing organizations, whether in speaking engagements or meeting with senior representatives.
- Strategic thinker able to prioritize effectively. Proven ability to think strategically and rapidly analyze diverse information from varied sources and an ability to learn, adapt, and to be innovative as new communications challenges arise. Ability to manage multiple demands effectively and to prioritize strategically.
- Prior experience with brand management. Experience with branding strategy and managing a valuable brand.
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