Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Senior Program Officer

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Job Description

We seek an experienced professional to serve as a Senior Program Officer for West & Central Africa. This role will be responsible for working with internal foundation teams and leveraging an ecosystem of partners at the country, regional and global levels at the direction of the West & Central Africa regional representative to support the continent-wide spread and scale of the foundation’s programmatic priorities, with a focus on the West & Central Africa regions. The focus of the Africa team is to enable collective impact for the foundation in Africa by influencing policy and finance towards key development priorities, strengthening capacity and enabling systems for delivery, and innovating and leveraging cross-cutting enablers for impact at scale. The Senior Program Officer, West & Central Africa will support the West & Central Africa regional representative and foundation teams in the management of their investment portfolio in West & Central Africa, and work with external partners to drive progress. As part of this responsibility, this role will help to drive relationships with country officials, grantees, contractors and key partners to achieve the foundation's desired impact, provide project briefings and updates to foundation leadership.  The Senior Program Officer will be based in Johannesburg, South Africa and will report to the Regional Representative, West & Central Africa. Core Responsibilities External stakeholder management
  • Support the Regional Representative, West and Central Africa to  advocate for priority strategies of the foundation in the West & Central Africa regions, which consists of the following countries: Benin, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Cape Verde, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo and Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Republic of the Congo and São Tomé and Príncipe. The focus of the work will be on Burkina Faso, Senegal, Mali, Niger, Cote Ivoire and DRC as these are the foundation’s moderate and selective engagement countries.

  • At the guidance of the Regional Representative, West and Central Africa, establish and strengthen critical relationships with national and regional governments in the West & Central Africa region, and other key foundation partners, including funders, media, NGOs, multilateral organizations, and the private sector to boost political will and help bring in new resources.

  • Create and maintain high quality, productive, collaborative and coordinated interactions and clear and consistent communications with grantees and partners in the region.

  • Support and manage the leadership of the West Africa working groups including Burkina Faso Working Group, DRC working Group and West Africa and Central Africa working group to ensure, collaboration, knowledge sharing and partnership with the PSTs.

  • Support the development of a robust regional internal and External Communications plan including a francophone media plan. Support the development and management of media partners, influencer from the region. Develop the weekly and monthly regional reports as a key communication tool to engage PSTs.

Internal stakeholder management
  • Gather and provide colleagues with information at the country and regional level about priority issues and strategies that are important to the foundation, such as new policies, local investments, financial regulation, Biotechnology, gender and other key health and development priorities.

  • Support the development and management of the francophone influencer plan (in support of the Africa Influencer plan).

  • Support foundation leadership trips, learning, engagement opportunities, and other appropriate activities to foundation staff visiting East Africa.

  • Support the Coordination of programmatic work in the region, in close partnership with the foundation’s Program Strategy and Functional Teams.

  • Provide internal review of program and or functional team grants/investments, contributing expert knowledge of local context in shaping said grants/investments.  Source, develop, and manage one’s own portfolio of grants/investments.

  • Attend meetings to represent the foundation and advocate / help shape global, regional and country agendas in line with foundation priorities.

Leadership and Culture
  • We believe that energized people, working well together, fueled by great leadership in an inclusive environment in which they thrive, will do phenomenal things.

Core Knowledge and Skills
  • Knowledge and awareness of development issues, strategies and institutions across relevant foundation program areas and geographies, particularly as it relates to East Africa.

  • Proven experience developing collaborative relationships and effectively engaging with a wide array of stakeholders at the country and regional levels including but not limited to government, regional entities, influencers, donors and partners/grantees on a wide range of issues.  Strong experience in at least one foundation program priority is required.

  • Proven ability to shape, develop, manage and scale strong partnerships, alliances and ventures both inside and outside organizations. Ability to adapt and learn from local contexts and serve as a trusted Advisor to stakeholders.

  • Ability to convene, lead and influence others to align to shared strategy goals, in a constructive manner. Proven experience managing conflicts and building consensus.

  • Outstanding interpersonal skills and humility – ability to listen and absorb perspectives from stakeholders and synthesize into thoughtful and well-designed comprehensive grants.

  • Some experience with strategy implementation, measurement, and course-correction is preferable.

  • Good knowledge of complex Design" id="link" class="link">Program Design that involves working with multiple stakeholders including technical experts, government and partners, to 1) conceive and co-develop grant ideas/concepts that offer effective and implementable solutions to complex development problems, and 2) provide on-the-ground oversight of grant development and implementation activities.

  • Ability to prioritize among competing priorities.

  • Ability to focus and achieve results.

  • Excellent oral, facilitation and written communication skills, able to effectively synthesize information to reach diverse audiences and build consensus.

  • Ability to be self-guided and work effectively and comfortably with sensitivity across barriers such as language, culture and distance.

  • Demonstrated ability to function successfully in a politically demanding environment. Experience working in a matrix environment strongly preferred

  • Excellent organizational skills and proven experience managing coordination mechanisms designed to lead teams through a complex and ambiguous task.

  • Ability to travel up to 30% domestically and internationally.

  • A sense of humor.

  • Commitment to the foundation’s core values, mission, and programs with an approach that is consistent with the foundation’s guiding principles and holding self to the highest ethical standards.

  • Working knowledge of written and spoken French.

Education and Experience
  • Advanced degree with a minimum of 10 years of relevant professional experience.

  • Senior candidate with deep understanding of the fundamentals of Africa Development.

  • Candidate must be proficient in both written and spoken French (preferably, a native French speaker).

  • Candidate must be creative and willing to experiment and innovate.

  • Must have an understanding of Agriculture, Health, Gender, Water, Sanitation & Hygiene, Policy and Advocacy and Communication experience.

  • Strong skills in executing strategies.

  • Demonstrated ability to collaborate across matrix organization.

  • Experience working in international development organizations OR playing a role that has a development focus in the private sector for example driving Public Private Partnerships, government relations, social impact, community investment.

As part of our standard hiring process for new employees, employment with the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation will be contingent upon successful completion of a background check.  
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