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ODI looks for a Programme Officer
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ODI looks for a Programme Officer

Overseas Development Institute 2-3y Junior Level  England, United Kingdom 3 May 2019

Job Description

Programme Officer

About us

ODI is an independent, global think tank, working for a sustainable and peaceful world in which every person thrives. We harness the power of evidence and ideas through research and partnership to confront challenges, develop solutions and create change. (odi.org).

We are looking for a Programme Officer to join the politics and governance team. You will provide administrative and financial project management support to research staff at every stage, from proposals to completion, on a wide range of projects.

About the Politics and Governance team

Within ODI, the Politics and Governance team combines innovative research and advisory work to address how politics and power shape development.

Too often, aid fails to help poor and vulnerable people because it assumes that development is a technical issue: building roads, training teachers, feeding refugees, etc. But development is never just technical. A road can be built, but whom does it serve? Teachers can be trained, but are they in school? Refugees can be fed, but can they ever return home? These and other issues are intimately bound up with struggles over resources and ideas, winners, losers, and the politics of ‘Who gets what, when, and how’. In ODI, we help partners understand and navigate the politics of the places they work and the issues they deal with, identifying levers for change that can deliver on aid’s promise of empowering the poor. We want to move the discussion from what happens to why it happens, from what should be done to what can be done, and how it can be done most effectively.

We are a team of 20 political scientists, anthropologists, economists, and historians who apply a range of approaches, from political economy analysis, to large household surveys, to behavioural science, to provide ideas on three core areas:

  • understanding political contestation of, within and outside the state;
  • articulating how incentives, narratives, perceptions and behaviour shape politics, policy making and development practice; and
  • supporting policy-makers and practitioners to put into practice the principles of doing development differently, based on our research.

We have backgrounds in public sector governance and service delivery; justice, security and rule of law; citizenship, democracy and political participation; conflict and peacebuilding; and migration and displacement. Some of the questions we’re asking include: why are educated people with jobs willing to use violence to change society? Why do people and communities move across borders or from one place to another? How can we promote universal access to good quality services? How can policy makers actually use evidence to create transformative policies? Why does aid money often fail to deliver change?

Three of our large ongoing projects include:

  • The Global Learning for Adaptive Management initiative (GLAM), funded by the Department for International Development and the United States Agency for International Development, GLAM is a globally networked learning alliance that aims to actively identify, operationalise and promote rigorous evidence-based approaches to adaptive management.
  • Secure Livelihoods Research Consortium a ten-year global research programme that aims to strengthen the evidence base and inform policy and practice around livelihoods, basic services and social protection in conflict-affected situations. It works in South Sudan, Uganda, DRC, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
  • Mignex is a five-year research project (2018–2023) with the core ambition of creating new knowledge on migration, development and policy. It involves researchers at nine institutions in Europe, Africa and Asia. We want to understand and explain how migration and development affect each other in complex ways.

Some of our recent publications include:

  • McCullough, A. and Toru, S. (2019), Imagining and Experiencing the State in Swat, Pakistan, ODI



In addition to research we offer a range of advisory services to development partners and programmes, including: embedded political economy analysis and/or learning accompaniment/strategy testing; research-driven advice on programme design, theories of change and MEL systems; innovative communications and digital outputs; capacity building and training.

About you

You’ll be our ‘ace in the hole’, the not so secret weapon allowing some of our most challenging projects to run smoothly. You’ll work with mini-teams to help on:

  • Delivering projects linked to peace processes, all of which would involve working with a small group of internal and external world-class country experts to get a sensitive event series off the ground, influencing policy.
  • Set up two large multi-country multi-year projects that carry out political economy analysis and operationally relevant research in governance, public sector reform and social accountability implementation programmes. Our two lead researchers in each project will need a helping hand to set up creative systems to manage agile projects- including budgets, coordination, and administration.
  • Take on financial duties for the Secure Livelihoods Research Consortium and one or two other projects.

We’d love it if you are curious about what goes into making good policies and programmes, and what the difference is between ‘traditional’ and ‘agile and adaptive’ development projects. The politics and mechanics of government and international policy making and use of evidence in decision making, and how peace processes really work are themes you’ll directly encounter in your work with us. You’ll like being embedded in agile teams, talking to many different people every day, handling delicate external communication by email, and negotiating our internal systems to get things done. You’ll particularly like getting workshops and events together and get a kick out of helping our brilliant dispersed team see tasks all the way through to the very end.

You’ll be working on at least four medium sized international events from the summer to March next year, and likely two more here at ODI, working with an event content lead. Second, you’ll have a long build up and lots of learning time to help us get several complex long term projects off the ground with the help of the programme development manager. You’ll help put our management systems and policies in place learning from our existing project, GLAM; help our team prepare information and budgets for donors and contract leads (things like due diligence, project budgets); establish a roster of consultants/partners; organise project meetings and project start up events; and get the projects set up in our systems. Then, you’ll take on the contracting, invoicing and budget tracking for those projects. Third, you’ll be taking over the reins for invoicing, donor financial reporting, and getting budgets into ODI systems, on a long-established and well-run project, and support administration and finances for one or two other projects working closely with the Programme Manager.

Two of the projects you’ll work directly on will operate on an agile management model. This means we allocate our scare resources and build small task/research teams based on emerging needs in discussion with our clients, often creating integrated teams across multiple partner organisations. To enjoy agile/adaptive approaches, team members benefit from having a learning mindset and accepting and bouncing back from failure, being quick at moving resources around to solve problems, and being willing to express how they feel and be sensitive to others.

What will you get out of working with us? We’re a hub advising other organisations on how to manage complex adaptive programmes, so we’re a good place to be if you’d like to hone your management skills. You’ll also become more political and diplomatic when it comes to looking at all angles of a problem and presenting options for consideration. We also are a team in which managers engage directly in substantive conversations, share their opinions, and participate in driving our agendas forward. We prize kindness and learning and try our best to put them first, though we could use your help with that in practice.

Some other basics about you:

  • Educated to degree level.
  • High level of numeracy.
  • Excellent organisational and administrative skills.
  • Strong experience in monitoring budgets.
  • Excellent communication skills, including good written and spoken English.
  • Multitasking skills in a high-pressure environment.
  • Ability to work to work under pressure and to strict deadlines.
  • Advanced IT skills including Excel, Word, Outlook, PowerPoint and databases.
  • Knowledge of a language other than English is desirable, as well as an interest in international development and humanitarian issues
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