Mercy Corps is powered by the belief that a better world is possible. To do this, we know our teams do their best work when they are diverse and every team member feels that they belong. We welcome diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and skills so that we can be stronger and have long term impact.
Mercy Corps works to alleviate poverty, suffering, and oppression by helping people build secure, productive, and just communities. The agency operates programs in over 40 countries around the world. The Program Performance and Quality Unit (PaQ), supports effective, efficient and equitable program performance through a culture of quality management, to achieve results for those who matter most - our program participants. PaQ consists of the following teams and functions: Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL); Strategic Leadership; Program Standards; and, Infrastructure. These areas of work are central to Mercy Corps’ desire to implement consistently high-performing and accountable programming.
The MEL Team of Mercy Corps supports both foundational and cutting-edge adaptive management approaches with design, monitoring, evaluation and learning functions as key processes and benchmarks to ensure evidence-based decision making for quality program implementation. The MEL Team’s work ranges from provision of technical MEL support to programs, integration of MEL technologies, implementation of learning mechanisms and platforms, implementation and support with data quality assessments, support with agency-level reporting and others. A major focus area of the MEL team is the implementation of Mercy Corps’ MEL and Program Management policies. The team works across a wide spectrum of stakeholders both internal and external to Mercy Corps, as well as diverse technical program approaches and sectors.
The Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL) Advisor is a member of the MEL Team within PaQ. S/he contributes towards the implementation of the MEL Policy, with a particular focus on the MEL Policy standards that relate to program learning. These include and are not limited to: supporting program learning plans, supporting periodic performance reviews, pause and reflections, and supporting internal and external evaluations.
This position will work with the program MEL leads in Mercy Corps countries, to identify resource and capacity needs in program learning, develop and roll out necessary guidance, approaches, tools, and provides contextually relevant Capacity Building opportunities for program staff. S/he will lead Mercy Corps’ Global Community of Practice on Program Learning and CLA, working closely with the regional MEL Advisors, and link the global program and MEL community to promote cross-country learning, innovation and scale up of effective program learning approaches.
S/he will be based remotely and travel at least 35% of the time, dedicating half of the time to direct program support.
ENHANCE KNOWLEDGE, GUIDANCE AND RESOURCES ON LEARNING AND ADAPTIVE MANAGEMENT (30%)
The MEL Advisor will work hand in hand with program teams, to identify capacity strengths and needs in program learning, and encourage cross-country experience exchange on effective implementation of program learning. As needed, s/he will conduct capacity/needs assessments through the MEL/CLA communities of practice, develop additional guidance, tools, and resources on areas identified as capacity gaps within the agency, by focusing on the following:
Routinely review internal and external technical advancements on CLA and adaptive management, integrate emerging approaches and donor guidance within Mercy Corps’ resources.
Develop additional and strengthen existing tools, resources, and guidance to support programs to appropriately budget for and implement effective routine learning activities, to meet our internal and donor requirements for CLA and adaptive management.
Promote the use of existing program learning resources, by engaging with relevant program teams, providing coaching, training, and oversight on how those tools should be applied. This includes Food for Thought Pause and Reflection Toolkit, Final Internal Performance Review guidance, Guidance on how to develop program learning plans, and learning agendas for strategic outcome areas, among others.
Actively engage with technical and program teams at various levels of Mercy Corps on capturing, sharing and using best practices on how M&E data is used by programs to improve and adapt. Initiate and facilitate documentation of program learning and program evidence across countries, promoting use of Mercy Corps’ Internal Performance Reviews, or other relevant mechanisms.
Develop and manage an internal knowledge hub on adaptive management, CLA and data driven decision making, using one of Mercy Corps’ knowledge management spaces, actively promoting organization-wide enthusiasm on this important discipline.
Chair the Global Program Learning and CLA Community of Practice, in coordination with other CoPs to ensure complementarity.
Assess the organizational need for program evaluation resources, map existing resources and identify improvements needed.
Work closely with the global, regional and country MEL teams, as well as colleagues from the Technical Support Unit and Research & Learning team to develop clear guidance on commissioning and implementing various types of program evaluations. Develop and roll out training, coaching and capacity strengthening initiatives on the guidance as needed.
Conduct systematic reviews of lessons learned emerging from internal performance reviews and evaluations, and other learning products, as needed, to support strategy measurement, global learning products and other initiatives as needed.
PROMOTE LEARNING AND ADAPTIVE MANAGEMENT WITHIN PROGRAMS (65%)
The MEL Advisor (Program Learning) will ensure the use of existing Mercy Corps resources on program learning by Country Programs, effectively integrating them in routine MEL practices through technical support and encouragement. The MEL Advisor (Program Learning) will provide direct technical support, coaching and mentoring to program staff on program learning practices, and co-facilitate program learning initiatives as required. Specific responsibilities will include:
Design and implement a comprehensive onboarding package for Mercy Corps program and MEL teams on the key aspects of program learning, in line with the organization’s strategy and MEL policy requirements. Working closely with the regional and country level MEL leads to rolling it out and overseeing its implementation.
Design and implement various training, coaching and other formal learning packages for program teams to increase knowledge and competencies in applying effective program learning practices. This includes a training package on how to use the Pause and Reflection, as well as Final Internal Performance Review Guidance, how to develop program learning plans and others.
Collaborate and support proposal design, writing the program learning, adaptive management and MEL sections as required, clearly outlining the methods and approaches to program learning, resource, and staffing needs.
Lead and/or co-facilitate pause and reflection, performance review, internal evaluations and reviews as needed, while building capacity among country teams.
Support program teams in conducting evaluations. This may require designing and reviewing Scopes of Work, recruitment of evaluators, as well as co-leading or leading evaluation studies for various programs as direct program support.
Review current program MEL Plans (where needed) to ensure adequate CLA and adaptive management practices, systems and mechanisms are integrated, planned and resourced, and the team has the capacity to implement those.
Strengthen the capacity of country, HQ and partner staff on program learning through training and ensuring the use of standardized guidelines and tools.
Reports Directly To: Senior Director, MEL
Works Directly With: Wider PaQ team; Senior Technical Lead for Program Management (based in London); Global Gender Advisor. Also with wider engagement with the Program Operations Department (part of the broader PaQ unit), the Research and Learning Team, and the Technical Support Unit, as well as field program HQ and national teams.
Accountability to Participants and Stakeholders
Mercy Corps team members are expected to support all efforts toward accountability, specifically to our program participants, community partners, other stakeholders, and to international standards guiding international relief and development work. We are committed to actively engaging communities as equal partners in the design, monitoring and evaluation of our field projects.
Minimum Qualifications & Transferable Skills
BA/MA in social science research, MEL, data Analysis, or related sector (or equivalent hands on experience) and relevant certifications preferred.
5+ years of experience in designing, implementing rigorous large scale MEL systems; emphasis on developing, implementing, incorporating evidence-based learning activities to promote adaptive management practices across a range of programs. Prior experience in supporting development and emergency programs with at least 1 of Mercy Corps’ technical sectors. Experience in designing, implementing, leading and co-leading various evaluations. Ability to develop coaching, mentoring and training packages to build staff skills in program learning and evaluation.
Hands on experience with evaluation design and adaptive management processes such as identifying right-fit MEL data for decision making, creating feedback loops, facilitating pause and reflection and sensemaking sessions, promoting use of right-fit MEL data to inform real-time decision-making, drawing conclusions and findings about program performance. Familiarity with US and European donor guidelines on adaptive management, CLA and other frameworks.
M&E and Data Management:
Strong theoretical and applied knowledge of Program Design, implementation, management MEL and learning using rigorous data. Deep knowledge of social science research and evaluation methodologies, quantitative and qualitative data analysis methods, experience of using statistical and qualitative software packages, as well as experience in effectively using data visualization and relevant technology solutions
High level of data literacy, proven ability to translate research findings and program M&E data into meaningful content that is adapted to various audiences and stakeholders.
Strategic critical and evaluative thinking skills:
Demonstrated abilities and track record in strategic systems and holistic thinking, managing resistance to change and understanding of organizational culture and behavior, learning and change management.
Strong organizational and process management capabilities. Ability to effectively set priorities and handle competing time and resource demands for self and others. Comfortable working independently and with limited oversight in a fast-paced environment.
Effective Communication and Teamwork:
Ability to prepare compelling presentations, written reports, Data Visualizations, and effectively present work/findings in international forums. Strong communication and facilitation, mentoring and training skills both in person and virtually.
A strong team player, able to successfully cultivate and maintain relationships not only internally within Mercy Corps across various HQ teams as well as regional and field offices, but also externally with and through professional networks.
Demonstrated conversation and presentation skills that can influence decision makers and foster organizational change, as well as the ability to implement and adjust them within a complex organizational setting.
Development of Resources:
Proven experience in development of toolkits and resources based on scope and sequenced approach
Knowledge of English is required and knowledge of French or Spanish is preferred.
Knowledge of Ona/ComCare, PowerBI or other data visualization platforms is required.
The MEL Advisor will contribute towards and establish the foundational systems and practices for promoting learning within Mercy Corps programs through pause and reflection, internal performance reviews and evaluations. S/he will engage with every individual program with flexibility, creativity, and enthusiasm, contextualize their technical support accordingly. The individual must have exceptional writing skills and the ability to multitask, set priorities, pay attention to detail, and work under tight deadlines within complex team environments. S/he must also apply a system thinking to all the initiatives they support.
The MEL Advisor must take an active role in building and maintaining external relationships as well as demonstrating the drive and initiative to contribute to internal team efforts. The individual must learn quickly how to provide technical data and support in the most efficient and effective form possible for each unique field team and environment. All PaQ positions require strong interpersonal and cross-cultural communication skills, and a level of emotional intelligence proficiency that quickly builds and maintains productive relationships across teams. Being aware and sensitive to international development issues and diverse cultures is critical.