Special Adviser to the Director General

International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
  • Location
    Gland, Vaud, Switzerland
  • Sector
    Non Profit
  • Experience
    Mid Career
  • Posted
    Sep 08

Position description

The Special Adviser is responsible for the following tasks and duties:

Manage the Director General’s Office

• Manage the overall coordination, functioning and performance of the Director General’s Office; take timely action on problems and challenges;

• Supervise and motivate the Director General’s Office team of Executive and Admin Assistant;

• Manage the preparation and quality control of all items submitted to the Director General for comments, or signature, including official correspondence, communication, and press releases;

• Prepare the Office of the Director General’s budget annual workplan;

• Ensure the coordination of corporate responses to emergency, high priority or other sensitive issues.

Ensure smooth representation and external relations

• Manage overall coordination of the substance of the Director General’s travel/missions and support to the Director General during missions;

• Assure the preparation of briefing notes and other mission-critical material;

• Prepare and support the Director General while hosting visiting delegations;

• Act as a point of contact for the Director General with selected external partners.

Provide strategic advisory support

• Provide advice to the Director General on engagement and issues at hand;

• Ensure the Director General is provided with the appropriate range of advice on issues as they arise;

• Organise and ensure effective running of the Leadership Team meetings as well as Management Team meetings, and monitor implementation of decisions;

• Assist the Director General in monitoring management’s progress in achieving stated objectives and ensure that strategy is being executed and that progress is communicated effectively;

• Assist the Director General to advance strategic initiatives as they may arise;

• Support the Director General on the proactive engagement, communication and interaction with members of the Union (staff, IUCN Members, Commissions, Council, partners and the media) in order to strengthen IUCN’s role in carrying out its mission;

• Assist the Director General with business planning and strategy preparation as well as preparation of Council Meetings and IUCN Congresses;

• Maintain close overview on key IUCN issues by working with staff in providing the necessary information to the Director General;

• Oversee coordination of town halls with IUCN Secretariat staff, manage select weekly meetings, assure agendas and summarising meeting minutes.

In addition to the tasks listed above, the Special Adviser may also be requested to work on specific tasks as requested by the Director General.


• Advanced degree (Masters’ or PhD) in a qualification in a discipline relevant to the Union’s mandate and work programme and demonstrated ability to translate analytical/ technical skills into operational results 

• 8-10 years of professional experience in environment, development or public policy, preferably of an international nature, with a strong preference for this experience to include “Front Office-type” assignments 

• Fluency in English is essential for this position since the successful candidate will be called upon to prepare focused and concise verbal and written briefs, statements and correspondence. Fluency in preferably one or more of IUCN’s other official languages (French and Spanish) is highly desirable 

• Excellent writing and communication skills in English with the ability to synthesize analyses and present materials effectively and tailored to different audiences 

• Proven ability to coordinate complex tasks and manage multiple tasks to deliver high-quality results under pressure

• High degree of discretion in dealing with internal and external clients, staff and managers at all levels, and in handling confidential and sensitive information 

• Outstanding interpersonal skills and track record of working effectively in a multicultural and diverse environment with colleagues at all levels 

• Knowledge of environment, conservation and development, and experience in working across sectors, in partnerships and donor relationships, and/or in strategic planning would be desirable 

• Demonstrated expertise in a variety of concepts, practices, and procedures related to addressing the most pressing environment and development challenges 

• Ability to interact with individuals across IUCN at all levels, businesses and locations, providing a broad understanding of the organization while building relationships throughout the organization 

• Demonstrate a high degree of flexibility, extreme discretion and sense of humour. Willingness to travel 

• Demonstrate a high level of competence in analysing and synthesising complex issues across a wide spectrum of technical and managerial areas 

• Diplomacy, good networking skills and excellent interpersonal skills are considered key personal attributes in the selection process 

• Demonstrate political sensitivity and strong knowledge in international and sectoral environmental policy


Enthusiastic commitment and vision

• Ability to provide inspiration and support strategic direction.

Integrity, maturity and trust

• Unimpeachable integrity as evidenced by behavior, communication style and way of handling ambiguous or difficult situations.

• Proven ability to effectively motivate and collaborate with colleagues and clients. 

• Demonstrated commitment to working within teams diverse in gender, nationality and background to achieve business results. 

• A well-developed sense of self-awareness with an ability to proactively manage one’s own strengths and weaknesses and understand how these influence the performance and motivation of other colleagues.

Professional competencies 

• Ability and commitment to act in accordance with the core values of integrity, respect for diversity and professionalism as spelled out in IUCN’s Code of Conduct and Professional Ethics.

• Well-developed interpersonal and communication skills 

Commitment to accountable and high quality delivery

• A clear and unambiguous work ethic that understands the necessity of, and demonstrates willingness to adhere to, institutional procedures and standards

• A clear sense of institutional propriety with respect to accountability and transparency at both the individual and team level

• An enthusiasm for and commitment to understanding and contributing to tangible, equitable and durable change processes in the field of conservation and natural resource management

Sound judgment and decision-making

• Experience in identifying key issues in a complex situation, and consulting, gathering, and analysing relevant information before proposing and implementing decisive actions or recommendations.

• Well-organised and logical in thought and action.

• Ability to anticipate, assess and account for political and reputational risk associated with contested or divergent technical issues.

Application instructions

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