Director of Programs – Kampala, Uganda
Mercy Corps is a leading global organization powered by the belief that a better world is possible.
In disaster, in hardship, in more than 40 countries around the world, we partner to put bold solutions
into action — helping people triumph over adversity and build stronger communities from within.
Now, and for the future.
Mercy Corps has been present in Uganda since 2006, focusing its interventions on economic and agricultural development, food security and nutrition, governance, conflict management and humanitarian response. With funding from USAID, DFID, private individuals and private foundations including MasterCard, Mercy Corps has been able to work together with communities in Uganda to respond to the needs of our target population, which is focused on youth, adolescent girls and rural poor. In 2017, Mercy Corps had an impact on almost 1 million beneficiaries in Uganda through our work focusing on building resilience and enabling economic growth, improving opportunities to attain better health and nutrition, and improving governance and conflict management. Common themes include community engagement, inclusive development, gender, and working in partnership with local government, the private sector and civil society actors. Mercy Corps Uganda promotes and uses market system development approach.
The Director of Programs (DOP) role is an exciting opportunity to shape and lead our programs in country. The DOP is a proven leader that is directly responsible for overseeing the programs portfolio in Uganda. The role will ensure that adequate leadership is applied to the implementation of relevant, innovative and adaptive programs. He/she will work closely with the Country Director (CD) to lead new program development and strategy, and ensure effective program coordination and technical support, program quality and accountability in close collaboration with the operations, finance and internal control teams. The position will be based in Kampala with frequent travel to the field offices. S/he will help represent Mercy Corps Uganda at the highest level to donors, major stakeholders (including those from the private sector), relevant government authorities and is able to articulate and deliver strategic vision in the complex Ugandan environment. The DOP is able to lead complex program implementation in a country program that operationally spans 9 field offices, and works in complex, insecure and unpredictable environments. The role will develop, articulate and deliver a strategic operational vision in line with the rapid evolution of the context and the strategic decisions made by the organization’s executive leadership.
Essential Job Responsibilities
strategy and Vision
- Support Country Director to communicate a clear vision of present and future program goals of Mercy Corps Uganda to team members and stakeholders that translates into concrete programs and work plans.
- Support countrywide program strategy development and prioritize and organize actions and resources to achieve objectives set through those processes
- Set direction by prioritizing and organizing actions & resources to achieve objectives and contribute to the country strategy, including through fundraising.
- Identify opportunities for innovative action, coordination and collaboration, creating an environment where alternative viewpoints are welcome.
- Ensure that analytical, program quality and technical support teams are collaborating with program and other internal stakeholders effectively, adding value to the program and maintaining strategic focus;
- In coordination with the Country Director, Chiefs of Party, Program Directors, Program Managers, Technical Advisors and other relevant personnel and counterparts, lead the identification of new initiatives and program opportunities that respond to identified needs and the country strategy;
- Provide overall leadership to relevant Program teams and MEL teams working on the program development process.
- Support Country Director to cultivate strategic partnerships or relationships with new/existing donors to further strategic development opportunities.
program leadership and coordination
- Ensure effective cross-team coordination, collaboration, communication and alignment of Mercy Corps’ programming and operations;
- Ensure regular coordination of program directors/managers, finance managers and operations focal points to review BVAs, operation plans and ensure regular communication;
- Facilitate sharing and learning across programs portfolios, teams, offices and support teams to incorporate learning in program design and management;
- Ensure that program implementation is responsive to communities and partners and aligned with Mercy Corps principles, values and strategic roadmap and country strategy;
- Provide leadership and oversight to ensure program adherence to grant agreements, Mercy Corps policies and procedures and relevant external rules and regulations;
- Support Program Directors/Managers to oversee performance of partners, sub-grantees, and technical contractors;
- Ensure that programs are implemented on time, on scope and on budget.
- Promote a culture of gender-sensitive, and where appropriate, gender-transformative programming.
program performance and quality
- Support MEL Manager in establishing systems, policies and approaches necessary to ensure tools and systems are in place for effective program monitoring, evaluation and learning.
- Support the MEL Manager to put in place effective program quality tools and measures in place and to regularly monitor and improve quality control;
- Ensure that programs and MEL team members are actively linked to those at HQ to ensure that global indicators and practices are considered and adhered to where necessary;
- Ensure all program teams have received training on program quality and minimum standards;
- Ensure program documentation and program minimal standards are consistently adhered to;
- Ensure that a comprehensive reporting schedule is maintained and adhered to according to requirements;
- Ensure program teams are trained on community response mechanism (CRM), CRMs are put into place and operational, and anti-fraud and safeguarding measures considered in program design/implementation.
- Ensure appropriate staffing for program leadership positions.
- Develop the capacity of the team, ensure program team members have a clear and deep understanding of their roles and assist with career development.
- Assist team members with information, tools and resources to improve performance & reach objectives.
- Manage performance of program leaders including establishment of clear and measurable objectives, ongoing feedback, periodic reviews and regular check-ins.
- Promote accountability, communicate expectations and provide constructive feedback informally and formally via regular one on ones and performance reviews.
- Create and sustain a work environment of mutual respect where team members strive to achieve excellence.
- Hire, orient and provide mentorship and capacity building to team members as necessary.
Finance & Compliance Management
- Ensure compliance with donor and Mercy Corps regulations related to all programs.
- Serve as overall budget holder for programming; manage and support budget holders for individual programs and awards and ensure project expenditure is in line with work plans and commitments to donors.
- Support TOLA, an open-source software built internally to improve how we evaluate program data by providing adaptable tools, and promoting better learning and sharing of information.
Influence & Representation
- Establish close and productive relationships with donors, national/regional/local government authorities, private sector actors, and local/international organizations in Uganda in close coordination with the Country Director, Heads of Offices, and Program Directors;
- Represent Mercy Corps at all relevant coordination meetings and increasingly play a lead role in other advocacy and coordination bodies;
- Coordinate with other NGOs in Uganda to consolidate Mercy Corps’ strategic niche and comparative advantages, while identifying strategic partnerships;
- Ensure compliance with security procedures and policies as determined by country leadership.
- Proactively ensure that team members operate in a secure environment and are aware of policies.
- As part of our commitment to organizational learning and in support of our understanding that learning organizations are more effective, efficient and relevant to the communities they serve, we expect all team members to commit 5% of their time to learning activities that benefit Mercy Corps as well as themselves.
Accountability to Beneficiaries
- Mercy Corps team members are expected to support all efforts toward accountability, specifically
to our beneficiaries and to international standards guiding international relief and development work, while actively engaging beneficiary communities as equal partners in the design, monitoring and evaluation of our field projects.
Program Managers, MEL Manager, Functional line with Complex Program Directors for program quality/coordination.
Reports Directly To: Country Director
Works Directly With: Department Heads, uganda country program, finance, internal control and safeguarding, operational staff; HQ Regional Program Team; Technical Support Units and MEL teams
Knowledge and Experience
- A Masters Degree or equivalent in management, international development, economics or other relevant field.
- A Bachelors or equivalent in social sciences, management, development or other relevant field.
- Over ten years of senior-level leadership and management experience in large and complex programs.
- Experience managing humanitarian relief and/or transitional programs in areas affected by conflict and insecurity.
- Prior experience with funding from USG, DFID, and other leading donors.
- Highly developed interpersonal and communication skills required, including influencing, negotiation and coaching;
- Strong management skills with good understanding of managing international, cross-cultural teams;
- Proven track record in proposal writing and business development.
- Experience managing programs in relevant technical area(s) including food security, market systems development, gender, livelihoods and financial services.
- Strong analytic skills and ability to develop solutions to complex issues required;
- Demonstrated attention to detail, ability to follow procedures, meet deadlines and work independently and cooperatively with team members.
- Fluent written and oral communication in English required.
- Strong M&E skills with extensive field experience in developing practical, useful and timely monitoring systems, both at the program- and country-level, which promote the use of data for adaptive management and learning.
- Knowledge of major donor requirements and compliance issues.
- Strong understanding of conflict sensitive program mainstreaming and gender or protection mainstreaming would be an advantage.
- Previous experience working Africa is desired.
The successful DOP will have senior level experience in coordinating and managing complex programs. S/he will have exceptional program development skills and an outstanding ability to manage and lead complex and diverse program teams. S/he will have proven experience with cross-cultural teams, with strong leadership, communication, coordination and mentoring skills. Multi-tasking, prioritizing, problem solving and simultaneous attention to detail and strategic vision are essential. The most successful Mercy Corps staff members have a strong commitment to teamwork and accountability, thrive in evolving and changing environments and make effective written and verbal communication a priority in all situations. Patience, tenacity, diplomacy and a sense of humor will contribute to success.
Living Conditions / Environmental Conditions
The position is based in Kampala and requires up to 40% travel to field locations. Security in Kampala is generally good. Housing, health care, water, electricity and consumer goods are all reasonably accessible and there are good international and domestic travel options from Entebbe/Kampala Airport. Air and road travel is necessary to get to some field locations. Mobile phone services are widely available. Internet is available in all Mercy Corps offices, although might be inconsistent. Travel to field sites will be required where living conditions are clean and secure, but basic. There is reasonable access to most consumer goods, although they can be expensive. There is a good number of schools with different education philosophies and curricula (including British, American and French). Kampala is an accompanied location suitable for spouse/partners and/or dependents.
Mercy Corps team members represent the agency both during and outside work hours when deployed in a field posting or on short-term assignments. Team members are expected to conduct themselves in a professional manner and respect local laws, customs and Mercy Corps’ policies, procedures, at all times and in all in-country venues.
Fostering a diverse and open workplace is an important part of Mercy Corps’ vision. Mercy Corps is an Equal Opportunity Employer regardless of background. We are committed to creating an inclusive environment.
In support of our belief that learning organizations are more effective, efficient and relevant to the communities we serve, we empower all team members to dedicate 5% of their time to learning activities that further their personal and/or professional growth and development
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
Achieving our mission begins with how we build our team and work together. Through our commitment to enriching our organization with people of different origins, beliefs, backgrounds, and ways of thinking, we are better able to leverage the collective power of our teams and solve the world’s most complex challenges. We strive for a culture of trust and respect, where everyone contributes their perspectives and authentic selves, reaches their potential as individuals and teams, and collaborates to do the best work of their lives.
We recognize that diversity and inclusion is a journey, and we are committed to learning, listening and evolving to become more diverse, equitable and inclusive than we are today.
Equal Employment Opportunity
Mercy Corps is an equal opportunity employer that does not tolerate discrimination on any basis. We actively seek out diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and skills so that we can be collectively stronger and have sustained global impact.
We are committed to providing an environment of respect and psychological safety where equal employment opportunities are available to all. We do not engage in or tolerate discrimination on the basis of race, color, gender identity, gender expression, religion, age, sexual orientation, national or ethnic origin, disability (including HIV/AIDS status), marital status, military veteran status or any other protected group in the locations where we work.
Safeguarding & Ethics
Mercy Corps is committed to ensuring that all individuals we come into contact with through our work, whether team members, community members, program participants or others, are treated with respect and dignity. We are committed to the core principles regarding prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse laid out by the UN Secretary General and IASC. We will not tolerate child abuse, sexual exploitation, abuse, or harassment by or of our team members. As part of our commitment to a safe and inclusive work environment, team members are expected to conduct themselves in a professional manner, respect local laws and customs, and to adhere to Mercy Corps Code of Conduct Policies and values at all times. Team members are required to complete mandatory Code of Conduct elearning courses upon hire and on an annual basis.