Country Director, Zambia and Malawi

  • Malawi
  • Zambia
  • Bachelor's
  • Master's
Start Date (Earliest):
Length of Commitment:
More than two years

Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA), is an international non-profit research organization. Based in New Haven, CT, with offices in Washington, D.C., New York, NY, and worldwide, IPA works with development partners and academic researchers to create and evaluate approaches to solving development problems, to communicate “what works” in development and to scale up successful projects in a variety of sectors, including rural development, financial inclusion, governance, education and public health.

Position Summary:

IPA seeks a Country Director to oversee its Zambia and Malawi offices. The Country Director will be based in Lusaka with travels to Lilongwe as required. The Country Director will work with IPA Global and key stakeholders to set the strategic direction for IPA in these countries and oversee multiple simultaneous impact evaluations in a variety of sectors, including rural development, financial inclusion, governance, education and public health. The position provides the opportunity to guide the research program in two countries, spend time in the field, direct in-country operations and to interact closely with academic researchers, local government agencies, donors, and other NGOs.

The Country Director, assisted by his/her management team and more broadly a team of permanent staff and hundreds of short term field staff at any given time, will provide overarching oversight to all project and office operations in the two countries, lead strategic planning for the country program, oversee finance and operations teams, build and strengthen systems for high quality data collection, provide capacity building of local staff and partners, and lead the dissemination of results to local practitioners and policy makers. The Country Director will also contribute to IPA’s continued expansion by initiating new partnerships and projects in the countries.

The position requires close interaction with academic researchers, donors, local government agencies, and other Implementing Partners. The Country Director will be assisted by a Management Team comprising of a Country Representative in Malawi and a Research Manager in Zambia, one Finance Manager, one Senior Policy Manager and an HR and Operations Associate (all based in Lusaka). The larger team is comprised of local and international permanent staff, and up to hundreds of short-term field staff at any given time.


Oversee high-quality research

  • Oversee and manage a team composed of Research Managers/Coordinators, Research Associates, and Field Managers, whose responsibilities include project design, management of data collection, data management and analysis, and writing of research reports, all in close collaboration with the Principal Investigators;
  • Build systems and structures to ensure that the implementation of research activities follows IPA’s quality standards and Principal Investigator’s directions.
  • Spearhead skills training for staff; and
  • Work to incorporate best practices and lessons learned in research and operations by other IPA offices and research affiliates.

New project development

  • In dialogue with potential partners and Principal Investigators, identify and develop potential projects with meaningful research and policy implications.
  • Participate in project design and lead budgeting during the proposal stage to ensure evaluations meet IPA standards; and
  • Coordinate fundraising for research proposals.

Ensure sound operations and finances

  • Provide supervision and support to administrative staff, overseeing human resources, IT, procurement, operations, and finance.
  • With support from the Finance Manager and other managers, ensure compliance with financial procedures, approve expenditures, make accurate projections, and ensure overall compliance.
  • Oversee the management of project budgets and donor reporting, with support from the Research Manager and administrative staff, and in coordination with IPA’s global grants team.
  • Ensure that country office structures are supported by incoming revenue.

Policy impact and external relations

  • Represent IPA in national and local government agencies and partner organizations. Manage relationships with current and potential IPA partner organizations.
  • Develop and maintain relationships with implementing partners, the government and academia in order for the country office to maximize its impact.
  • Engage government partners and other stakeholders to identify research questions of interest and cultivate potential research projects in those areas.
  • Oversee capacity building of local development partners in evidence-based policy making and rigorous impact evaluations; and
  • Oversee targeted dissemination, encourage scale up of successful interventions.

Mitigate and manage risks

  • Set security standards and parameters for work to ensure staff safety and security, Monitor security concerns for IPA operations and act as primary contact in crisis management.
  • Take steps to mitigate risks and to safeguard the organization’s reputation; and
  • Oversee procurement, safety, billing, and security and ensure organizational legal compliance.
  • Master’s degree in international affairs, international public policy, development economics, or field related to international economic development.
  • A minimum of 5-7 years of relevant work experience, including 3 years in a management position.
  • Demonstrated ability to lead large teams and multiple projects.
  • Experience in developing research projects, experience with budgeting and project planning.
  • Strong quantitative skills and familiarity with randomized controlled trials is an added advantage.
  • Passion for connecting rigorous research to policy makers and practitioners and communicating what works in development.
  • Commitment to leading a diverse team in a multicultural environment and building staff capacity.
  • Ability to communicate effectively across cultures with multiple stakeholders including international and local academic researchers, government officials, NGO partners, enumeration teams, and study participants.
  • Significant exposure to human resources and financial management.
  • Experience in grants and contracts management, preferably in a research setting.
  • Excellent management and organizational skills and ability to work independently.
  • Flexible, self-motivating, able to manage multiple tasks efficiently, and a team player;
  • Experience living and working in Africa; and
  • Fluency in English is required, strong oral and written communication skills.