United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)

Consultant (Innovation Specialist, Office of Innovation)

United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)

Job Description

UNICEF’s Office of Innovation is hiring a learning innovation specialist for a new role, sharping and accelerating UNICEF’s global learning innovation portfolio and providing support to early stage learning innovation investments made through the Innovation Fund and Digital Public Goods Alliance.

UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. To save their lives. To defend their rights. To help them fulfill their potential.

Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, every day, to build a better world for everyone.

And we never give up.

For every child, innovate...

UNICEF has a 70-year history of innovating for children. We believe that new approaches, partnerships and technologies that support the realisation of children’s rights are key to improving children’s lives.

Worldwide, we innovate to tackle the most pressing problems faced by the most vulnerable children. We take a systematic approach to innovation, applying skills and energy across new tools and technologies, products, innovative financing and new ways of working to boost our impact.

The Office of Innovation is a creative, unique and agile team in UNICEF. We sit at a unique intersection, where an organisation that works on huge global issues meets the startup thinking, the technology, the tools, the know-how and the partners that turn ideas and energy into scalable solutions for children.

Within the Office of Innovation, the Field Engagement and Capacity Building Team has a crucial role in ensuring groundbreaking innovations meet children and young people’s most urgent needs.

By managing UNICEF’s global innovation portfolios, we help identify priorities for the application of innovations. We also strengthen the capacity of UNICEF offices to scale proven innovations to millions.

Through co-Design, shared learning, storytelling and exploration, we also aid efforts to build a culture of innovation throughout UNICEF, including on virtual and remote learning and collaboration.

The Office of Innovation currently hosts the Secretariat for the Digital Public Goods Alliance, established in follow-up to the High-level Panel on Digital Cooperation. In its report, the Panel recommends as 1B “that a broad, multi-stakeholder alliance, involving the UN, create a platform for sharing digital public goods, engaging talent and pooling data sets, in a manner that respects privacy, in areas related to attaining the SDGs”. Norway, Sierra Leone, UNICEF and iSPIRT, the four initial champions working to implement this recommendation.

As part of facilitating use of digital public goods, the Alliance will help potential users identify and engage with relevant implementation support communities and will also link to relevant policy and regulatory resources. The Alliance also wants to help ensure future development and management of digital public goods, through identifying and developing funding models and business models.

How can you make a difference?

This is a new role within the Office of Innovation, reporting in to the Field Engagement and Capacity Building team, but with clear deliverables and responsibilities across the Office of Innovation, supporting the pipeline and CO scale up of Learning Digital Public Goods (collaborating with both the Education Section and Ventures teams).

You will support the development and activation of UNICEF’s global Innovation portfolios within the Learning sector. Working closely with the Innovation team and the Education Section, you will provide Technical Support to open source learning investments and will work in partnership to identify and scale up investments.

Your main responsibilities will be:

This is a new role which will require engagement and experience of EdTech, ideally including frontier technologies; excellent cross-team work and the ability to apply this within UNICEF. You will:
  • Play a leadership role around Learning Innovation, delivering (on behalf of Office of Innovation) to the global priority - Reimagine Education
  • Have oversight of the Learning Innovation portfolio (in partnership with Programme Division), supporting the identification and scaling of critical solutions that will accelerate learning outcomes across the education sector.
  • Work with the Field Engagement team lead, Programme Division, PFP and PPD to develop global resource mobilisation strategies to underpin each of the portfolio areas, focusing on the identified priority projects within the Innovation portfolios and on potential funders for digital health solutions within the health DPGs
  • Ensure that all relevant (aligned to UNICEF Strategic Plan) and validated (through the DPG process) health Digital Public Goods are included within UNICEF’s innovation inventory
  • Create a structured pathway between relevant learning Digital Public Goods and UNICEF COs, aligning to relevant UNICEF global innovation priority areas (as outlined by UNICEF Innovation portfolios)
  • In partnership with the Education Section, identify a network of technical partners and support providers for solutions within the DPG Alliance and to support the scale up of solutions within UNICEF
  • Provide technical review and support to Venture Fund investments in learning, including those leveraging AI and Data Science
  • Actively support the identification, assessment and scale up of learning-related DPGs including in pathfinder countries
  • Strategic support and other tasks, as agreed for Office of Innovation
Please note that these responsibilities may be varied by mutual agreement.

To qualify as an advocate for every child you will have…

  • An advanced university degree in one of the following fields: education, technology, international development, business Administration or other relevant field.

    *A first University Degree in a relevant field combined with 10 years of professional experience may be used in lieu of an Advanced Degree.
  • A minimum of 8 years of relevant professional experience in  education, innovation in learning or innovation in international development or related fields
  • Proven experience of developing and scaling EdTech solutions, ideally within lower resource contexts and ideally with an understanding of open source licensing
  • Demonstrable understanding (and ideally experience) of how frontier technology (particularly AI and Machine Learning) can be applied to EdTech solutions
  • Experience of working (and ideally innovating) with and for children in resource poor environments
  • A strong understanding of UNICEF programmes, policy, and principles
  • Ability to manage relationships with UNICEF Country and Regional Offices, programmes and partners, including government, universities, UN organizations, NGOs and the private sector.
  • Demonstrated experience in developing and negotiating partnerships
  • Proven capacity to communicate effectively across different mediums to engage and influence complex stakeholders (including senior stakeholders) in order to deliver against challenging targets
  • Proven capacity to work with collaborative teams across different locations and with different technical skills
  • Experience of innovation portfolio management or innovation governance is desirable
  • Experience in Knowledge Sharing, capacity building or training for innovation is desirable
For every Child, you demonstrate…

UNICEF's values of Care, Respect, Integrity, Trust, and Accountability (CRITA) and core competencies in Communication, Working with People and Drive for Results.

The UNICEF competencies required for this post are...

  • Builds and Maintains Partnerships (Level 2)
  • Demonstrates Self Awareness and ethical awareness (2)
  • Drive to achieve results for impact (2)
  • Innovates and embraces change (3)
  • Thinks and acts strategically (3)
  • Works collaboratively with others (3)
UNICEF is committed to diversity and inclusion within its workforce, and encourages all candidates, irrespective of gender, nationality, religious and ethnic backgrounds, including persons living with disabilities, to apply to become a part of the organization.

UNICEF has a zero-tolerance policy on conduct that is incompatible with the aims and objectives of the United Nations and UNICEF, including sexual exploitation and abuse, sexual harassment, abuse of authority and discrimination. UNICEF also adheres to strict child safeguarding principles. All selected candidates will be expected to adhere to these standards and principles and will therefore undergo rigorous reference and background checks. Background checks will include the verification of academic credential(s) and employment history. Selected candidates may be required to provide additional information to conduct a background check.

Payment details and further considerations

  • Monthly payment, based on monthly tasks and progress reports, approved upon monthly review with supervisor.
  • Consultant is responsible for his/her own health and travel insurance
  • Consultant is eligible for standard DSA for all work-related travel

Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted and advance to the next stage of the selection process.

Individuals engaged under a consultancy or individual contract will not be considered “staff members” under the Staff Regulations and Rules of the United Nations and UNICEF’s policies and procedures, and will not be entitled to benefits provided therein (such as leave entitlements and medical insurance coverage). Their conditions of service will be governed by their contract and the General Conditions of Contracts for the Services of Consultants and Individual Contractors. Consultants and individual contractors are responsible for determining their tax liabilities and for the payment of any taxes and/or duties, in accordance with local or other applicable laws.

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