Research and Scaling Fellow Government Partnerships in Mexico- J-PAL LAC

Location:
  • Mexico
Start Date (Earliest):

About J-PAL

J-PAL LAC is a non-profit research center that aims to reduce global poverty by generating rigorous scientific evidence on which social programs and policies can make a real difference in people's lives. Formed by a network of more than 750 academics worldwide, J-PAL measures the impact of programs with randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and uses these results to influence the design of public policies. The J-PAL network has conducted over 1,700 evaluations in over 90 countries, organized in 12 sectors. In Latin America, we currently count on 174 studies. As of 2023, J-PAL LAC is supporting 25 evaluations in 6 countries.

J-PAL organizes its work into three main areas:

Research: We partner with donors to create initiatives that fund research. We also implement RCT from data collection to data analysis.

Public policy: we summarize the results of the investigation, create alliances, and provide technical assistance to governments.

Training: We lead the executive training and develop a rigorous online education to build regional knowledge.

The local grounding of J-PAL is essential for its success. The seven regional J-PAL offices are located at leading universities on five continents. In the case of Latin America and the Caribbean, J-PAL LAC is headquartered at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (UC Chile). J-PAL LAC also has a Memoranda of Understanding with Insper for work in Brazil, the Universidad del Valle de Guatemala for work in Central America, and ITAM for work in Mexico.

In 2019, J-PAL founders Esther Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee won the Nobel Prize in Economics "for their experimental approach to alleviating poverty."

OUR OFFICE

J-PAL LAC is based at UC Chile in Santiago, where most of our staff is located. We also have a team in São Paulo, based at Insper, and project staff in several LAC countries. Our team comprises about 15 permanent staff members and 20 staff hired for specific projects, typically on shorter-term contracts. We are currently running 25 projects in 6 LAC countries. 

We strive for a collegiate, horizontal, and amicable culture where peers can learn from each other and are not afraid to innovate. The office is led by Executive Director Paula Pedro, originally from Brazil, and Deputy Executive Director Claudia Macías, originally from Mexico. Paula leads the office’s overall strategy and fundraising and has a more external-facing role. Claudia oversees our operations and develops strategic partnerships, especially with Governments. 

About the team, project, or initiative you would be working with:

The Government Partnership Expansion is a selection process to identify government institutions interested in incorporating the use of evidence into their work. During the partnership, government organizations will strengthen their capacities to generate and use evidence and data while incentivizing evidence-based policymaking to reduce gender inequality.

Due to their capacity to reach millions of persons, governments are primarily responsible for providing services in most low-and middle-income countries. However, significant gaps in the effectiveness of social spending persist despite increases in available evidence and data that can offer insights into how to fight against poverty and gender inequality. Therefore, building a culture of evidence-based decision-making is particularly relevant to improving people’s lives.

As part of a global effort to support governments in laying the groundwork to take evidence-informed policies and programs to scale, J-PAL LAC aims to help policymakers in Brazil and Mexico overcome institutional barriers and disincentives to engage with evidence and data meaningfully through the Government Partnership Expansion

INFONAVIT, the National Workers' Housing Fund Institute, is a Mexican institution that aims to enhance the quality of life for workers by providing access to decent housing through quality loans and services. Its mission is to promote the right to housing, while its vision is to become an international benchmark in housing financing. Its objectives include financial viability, transparency, and operational efficiency, benefiting workers and their communities.

Starting in 2024, J-PAL LAC and INFONAVIT will work together to identify areas of convergence. In this context, the role of the Research and Scaling Fellow is relevant.

Our commitment to diversity and inclusion

Embracing diversity, equity, and inclusion is essential to address poverty's complex causes and consequences. To advance our mission, J-PAL LAC must draw on diverse experiences from our staff and affiliated researchers to ask better questions and identify better solutions. We are working to increase the limited representation of individuals from underrepresented economic backgrounds. We are committed to self-reflection, learning, and dialogue to nurture understanding across differences. Together, we will build an equitable, inclusive culture where everyone is respected, empowered, and heard.

Summary of the Role:

The candidate will coordinate interactions between the Institute of the National Housing Fund for Workers (INFONAVIT) and the J-PAL's academic network, evaluate potential opportunities to advance the culture of generation and use of rigorous evidence in INFONAVIT, and support the development of research projects.

Additionally, the candidate will collaborate with INFONAVIT officials through technical advice, institutional capacity building in the use and generation of evidence, and the identification of innovative solutions to the daily challenges faced by this organization. 

An ideal candidate:

  • Strong interpersonal and analytical abilities
  • Work Management: Ability to perform a variety of tasks and duties as well as to organize and prioritize work assignments effectively;
  • Orientation to Details: Strong ability to manage a time-sensitive workflow while maintaining absolute accuracy with details; 
  • The ability to work on projects independently and make decisions and a willingness to pitch in to get tasks done are all important.
  • Communication: Have good writing and presentation skills for communicating the office policy and guidelines in ways that staff members understand;
  • Demonstrates self-awareness, cultural competency and inclusivity, and ability to work with colleagues and stakeholders across diverse cultures and backgrounds;
  • A record of accomplishment in adeptly navigating complex organizations and building relationships among diverse groups of stakeholders.
  • Flexibility to adapt and respond to changing circumstances, demands, and stakeholder expectations.
  • Self-motivated with an orientation towards results over processes.
  • Time Management: Proven ability to handle various projects/tasks simultaneously and meet deadlines. 
  • A willingness to work hard, be self-motivated, and learn will be essential for doing well in this position.  
  • Punctuality and consistency in work hours are required.
  • Mission alignment: We highly value experience in community organizing, activism, or engagements focused on bettering the lives of your community.
  • Knowledge or experience in housing, mortgage, labor market, or related sectors is highly desirable. Additionally, a candidate with an openness to develop research in the topics above is preferred.

Responsibilities include but are not limited to

The primary responsibilities of the Research Fellow revolve around promoting a culture of evidence-based decision-making within INFONAVIT and fostering collaborative relationships with key stakeholders, including the Government Partnerships manager and J-PAL LAC. Some of the expected responsibilities and results for the position are: 

-Promotion of Evidence-Based Culture: Drive the advancement of a culture that emphasizes the generation and application of rigorous evidence within INFONAVIT. Identify potential opportunities and assess the feasibility of innovative initiatives, such as creating an innovation laboratory.

-Research and Analysis: Lead quantitative explorations and analyses to pinpoint opportunities for Randomized Control Trials (RCTs). Catalyze the development of research projects and provide essential support throughout their lifecycle. Engage in collaborative efforts with committees and partners to refine focus areas and coordinate agendas.

-Stakeholder Collaboration & Matchmaking: Foster continuous collaboration with key partners, such as the Government Partnerships' manager and J-PAL LAC. Engage in matchmaking conversations for project alignment and contribute to formulating research proposals that members of the J-PAL academic network can carry out.

-Support & Technical Advisory: Play a pivotal role in shaping INFONAVIT's strategic planning and evaluation framework. Offer technical guidance to enhance the scope of internal research and evaluation efforts and actively assist INFONAVIT's public servants on research-related tasks.

-Capacity building: Contribute to developing skills for using and generating rigorous evidence for decision-making in public policy. Some activities include providing highly technical training on randomized evaluations and sharing literature review findings through executive presentations.

Qualifications:

Education: A master's or doctoral degree in economics, political science, public policy, or a related field. Preference will be given to recent graduates. Knowledge of the design and analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials (RCT) is essential, including a solid command of the associated terminology, statistical procedures, and concepts.

Languages: This job is based in Mexico, so full proficiency in Spanish is a must. Advanced English is needed as you also interact frequently with the Global and regional teams. 

Experience: At least three years of professional experience. Preference will be given to candidates with experience in the implementation and evaluation of RCTs.

Word: Advanced

Excel: Advanced

PowerPoint: Intermediate to advanced

Statistical Packages (STATA, R, and SQL): Advanced

Other: Experience writing research funding proposals: Intermediate to advanced

Experience with impact evaluation methodologies: Advanced

Work permissions:

This position is open to citizens or foreigners with visas and/or valid work permits in Mexico at the time of applying for this vacancy.

Location

You are expected to be at INFONAVIT offices regularly. In addition, you are expected to visit the J-PAL office in Mexico City at least once a week. 

How to Apply

What to expect from this application process?

As our team is mainly made up of people from outside Mexico, questions in English can be asked during the interview process. If you are uncomfortable responding to them in English, please speak Spanish. We understand that most people in the region do not speak English, and we will consider your personal history. 

If you are interested, please follow these steps: Please fill out the following application form.

You will be asked to answer relevant questions and upload a CV and a short motivation letter (both in one single PDF). You can send your materials either in English or Spanish.

What is expected from your cover letter

Write a one-page cover letter in the most comfortable language, clearly stating your qualifications for the various responsibilities and the reasons for your interest in J-PAL. Please share aspects of your life that might be challenging to spot on your CV but might make you a good candidate!

What is expected from your CV

Ideally, in 1-2 pages, in the language you are most comfortable with.

Given the volume of applications received, only short-listed candidates will be contacted for an interview.

Steps expected for shortlisted and final candidates

Screening interview - culture fit and alignment of mission: yes

Test: yes

Round of interviews: yes

Final Interview: yes

Feedback could be provided only to finalist candidates.

We want to get to know you as a professional and human being. We also want you to succeed. You will receive all the necessary materials and information at each step. We might also ask for additional information or additional interviews. If so, you will be informed as soon as possible to respect your time. 

The process exists because we believe that, in an unequal region like ours, only some people have the same chances, and, often, more than CVs are needed to demonstrate talent and motivation. In addition, it is an opportunity for you to understand our work well. These two ingredients are the secret to a successful partnership.

The team is also happy to accommodate your needs to ensure you feel at ease during the process. Just ask us!