An opportunity is available for a Senior Project management Specialist for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in Malawi. The Senior Project Management Specialist (SPMS) is a core member of the 10 member Education Office, which implements the flagship Malawi National Reading Program (NRP) and the set of programs under the Let Girls’ Learn (LGL) Presidential Initiative. S/he works directly on a $140 million portfolio of 10 or more basic education activities in Malawi.  Based on his or her experience and expertise s/he will lead a $100 million portfolio of national reading activities in coordination with the Malawi Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology (MOEST) to reach 6.5 million students or a $30 million portfolio of girls’ development activities as well as coordinate through the US Ambassador and interagency an additional $30 million set of girls’ development activities together with colleagues from the US Office of the First Lady, the US Department of State, US Department of Agriculture (USDA), Peace Corps, and USAID.  The SPMS will be supervised by the Education Office Director, a US Direct Hire, and have supervisory, coaching, and mentoring responsibilities over junior- and mid-level Foreign Service National (FSN) Project Management Specialists.
Portfolio/Program Management                                                                                                     
The SPMS will be responsible for leading and managing a highly visible education portfolio that includes flagship programs related to national primary-grade reading or keeping girls in school. The SPMS will:
  • Lead a $100 million portfolio of national reading activities in coordination with the Malawi MOEST to reach 6.5 million students, including funds from other donor partners or lead a $30 million portfolio of girls’ development activities as well as coordinate through the US Ambassador and interagency an additional $30 million set of activities together with colleagues from the US Office of the First Lady, the US Department of State, USDA, Peace Corps, and USAID/Washington Let Girls’ Learn team. Portfolio and activity level support may include the following:
o   Start up a new national student learning assessment and community engagement program to accompany the National Reading Program.
o   Guide the rollout of community development activities for the National Reading Program.
o   Monitor progress at the field level for National Reading Program activities.
o   Guide Education Office staff and implementing partners to increase the rate of activity rollout supported under the Girls’ Education and Health (ASIPRE) program through activity monitoring and meetings at central and district levels.
o   Lead coordination efforts between multiple USG girls’ education and health activities.
o   Regularly provide data and activity updates as well as respond to information requests for different audiences within and beyond Malawi, including USAID/Washington and other USG agencies.
  • Serve as the Contracting/Agreement Officer’s Representative (COR/AOR) for activities within his or her portfolio. The SPMS directly manages at least one Chief of Party (COP) with the ability to convene all COPs to discuss technical issues.  S/he will provide leadership and technical oversight of projects within his or her portfolio, working through other junior- to mid-level FSNs within the Education Office in consultation with the Office Director. Leadership and oversight includes monitoring activities through regular site visits, the thorough review of annual work plans and progress reports, assuring compliance with USAID environmental guidelines, tracking expenditures and accruals against obligations, making recommendations to implementing partners to increase project impact and enhance sustainability and reporting on project results. It also includes drafting official USG documents required for reporting the status of activities, such as annual operational plans, annual performance reports, action memos and procurement documents as well as information requests from Washington and the Embassy.
  • Serve as a point of contact for education issues including early grade reading, national education data, curriculum development, student learning assessment, teacher training, gender and girls’ education, policy and planning, monitoring and evaluation, community mobilization, school governance, and other issues.
  • Establish, maintain and manage sensitive high level relationships with the MOEST, multi-donor stakeholder coordination groups, multilateral and bilateral donors, other stakeholders and USG partners.
  • Guide and monitor activities of contractors and grantees (or FSN staff who have been assigned to manage them) to ensure compliance with established USG guidelines, policies and procedures.
  • Ensure that activities within the education portfolio are on track to meet time-bound targets, and if they are not, work with the necessary group of partners and staff to get them back on track.
Technical Leadership                                                                                                                       
The SPMS is a widely experienced technical resource for the Education Office, with expertise particularly in monitoring and evaluation, student learning assessment, continuous assessment, girls’ education, primary and secondary education, community engagement, early grade reading, and/or other related education subsector relevant to the Education Office. S/he will be responsible for ensuring that USG development assistance activities reflect best practices and state-of-the-art knowledge that supports effective education programs. S/he will maintain strong supportive relations with other USG technical offices and UGS agencies involved in education such as the U.S. State Department, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Peace Corps, the and other donors and multilateral partners, and regional African institutions. The SPMS may be asked to lead the following work:
  • Design the next generation of USAID/Malawi education programs together with the team and Education Office Director aligned to the Agency’s education sector strategy, grounded in evidence and data.
  • Provide technical leadership to staff and partners aligned to expectations of the Education Office Director.
  • Ensure that evaluation data is used appropriately for decision making.
  • Serve as a technical expert for the Education Office, advising on the development and implementation of USAID/Malawi country development strategies and related education activities and programs.
Policy and Coordination                                                                                                                
The SPMS will be responsible for providing the following high quality policy and coordination support to the USAID/Malawi Education Office:
  • Represent USAID on key technical and steering committees and donor working groups. In some cases when relevant lead them with MOEST counterparts to promote education reforms grounded in evidence.
  • Prepare and deliver presentations on USG related issues to high-level government officials on education programs and activities at local, regional and international workshops and conferences.
  • Negotiate with high level government officials on issues of education policy required for the smooth implementation of USAID education programs.
  • Support government counterparts together with other development partners in strategic planning and implementation of Malawi national education sector programs.
  • Coordinate programs within and beyond the Education Office to ensure efficient and effective use of limited development resources to ensure the greatest development gains to project beneficiaries.
  • Prepare and disseminate to Mission staff and partners information on issues, accomplishments, and best practices in USAID education programs; and document/share success stories.
  • As a respected development professional, s/he will be required to represent USAID to a number of different stakeholders including Ambassadors, Mission Directors, other senior USG representatives, national level counterparts, bilateral and multilateral donors, and Congressional/other US delegations.
Supervision and Mentoring                                                                                                             
The SPMS will lead a team of three to six Foreign Service National (FSN) project managers with direct supervision over at least one FSN staff providing daily mentoring, monitoring of work, establishing work objectives and product deliverables and performing annual evaluations.  The FSN project managers to be supervised and mentored by the SPMS have day-to-day responsibilities for 10 or more activities that range in value from $120,000 to $65 million with implementing partners of varying technical and management strength. The FSN project managers require guidance from a multifaceted manager with a broad range of skills.
Other Duties                                                                                                                                     
  • Work with the Education Office Director to respond in a complete and timely manner to all requests from the USAID/Malawi Mission Director, the USAID/Washington Education teams, the US Ambassador, as well as other USG, host-government, donor, and NGO partners;
  • Respond flexibly and capably to a wide range of work-related requirements, including but not limited to Congressional or other inquiries, maintaining and reporting on Education indicators, supporting and managing VIP visits, contributing to portfolio reviews, reviewing performance monitoring plans, tracking accruals, drafting the annual Performance Plan Report, developing the Operational Plan, and responding to Washington policy and operational requests.
  • Other duties as assigned by his or her supervisor.
Successful fulfillment of ALL of these responsibilities listed above will entail travel throughout Malawi, periodic travel to other parts of Africa and the United States, and participation in USAID workshops, conferences, trainings and seminars relevant to meet the responsibilities described above.
a.      Education:
The complex and highly technical and visible nature of the position requires at minimum a Master’s Degree in educational development, reading, curriculum development, student learning assessment, teacher training, gender and girls’ education, policy and planning, monitoring and evaluation, community mobilization, school governance, or a related field relevant to USAID/Malawi’s work in education.
b.      Prior Work Experience:
A minimum of 12 years of relevant work experience in positions with progressively greater responsibility, leadership, and staff management is required. Relevant and practical professional work experience at senior levels designing, managing, monitoring, evaluating, and reporting on development programs; leading policy discussions with senior government officials; coordinating donor and other development partner activities; collaborating across teams; engaging communities; and managing, motivating, coaching, and mentoring staff are also key requirements of the position. Experience working with or for USAID, USAID contractors, other US government agencies, other donors, host-government line ministries, public international organizations, and/or other relevant development stakeholders in Malawi or in Southern Africa is preferred. Experience working with USAID and/or a USG implementing partner is particularly desirable. Excellent past and current leadership, communications (verbal and written) and interpersonal skills are critical to this position.  The ideal candidate should demonstrate a clear progression in his or her previous work experience and have experience working on education activities related to USAID/Malawi’s current education focus. Specialized knowledge and demonstrated expertise in program implementation and/or management for development results as well as a proven ability to work effectively with high level personnel from government, the donor community, implementing partners, and other development organizations is necessary.
c.      Post Entry Training: 
Familiarization training in USAID and USG-specific procedures, regulations, and methods will be provided.  Formal courses will be offered for USAID staff, as appropriate, in addition to courses, seminars, conferences and other activities in fields related to the function and needs of the staff member to maintain as well as update his or her qualifications.  The incumbent will be expected to complete successfully the course for Contracting/Agreement Officer’s Technical Representative (COR/AOR) and become certified as soon as is practical and in compliance with USG regulations. Additional training will be provided for courses such as Programming Foreign Assistance, Project Design and Management and other USAID or outside training opportunities directly relevant to the performance of core responsibilities. USAID’s Automated Directive Systems (ADS) and related Acquisition and Assistance Policy Directives (AAPDs) provide relevant guidance on topics related to the roles and responsibilities of the SPMS.
d.  Language Proficiency (List both English and host country language(s) proficiency requirements by level (II, III) and specialization (sp/read): 
The position requires both English and Chichewa fluency. S/he must have proven ability to communicate clearly and concisely – both orally and in writing in English.
e.  Job Knowledge: 
The SPMS must have a strong technical knowledge of Malawi’s education, social and cultural characteristics and of the history of education development assistance activities in Malawi, especially the USG’s role.  The SPMS requires an expert and insider knowledge and understanding of the different branches in the Government of Malawi (GOM) in order to enhance effective communication and to develop consensus on program/project strategy and implementation. The SPMS must foster and maintain close relationships with a plethora of GOM officials, MOEST staff, other donor representatives, local and international implementing partner organizations, and other non-government organizations (NGOs). The SPMS requires a high degree of political and management savvy to effectively coordinate policy reforms across the portfolio and a broad knowledge of the GOM system of educational development across ministries, institutions, and agencies. The position requires expert knowledge in primary education, secondary education, girls’ education, early grade reading, curriculum development, teacher training, policy planning, student-learning assessment, monitoring and evaluation, community mobilization, and/or school governance.
f.   Skills and Abilities: 
The SPMS must have very good computer skills, including the ability to use Microsoft Word, Excel, and Power Point efficiently and effectively as well as to be able to articulate his/her thoughts both verbally and written and both in English and in Chichewa. The ability to quickly analyze and synthesize data for decision making and reporting is essential as is the ability to mobilize teams to meet tight, last minute deadlines and information requests from USAID as well as other USG agencies. The ability to troubleshoot, solve complex problems, manage difficult situations and personalities, plan ahead to better guide teams and divide work appropriately across individual team members are all expectations of the position. The SPMS is also expected to shepherd projects in various stages of design and implementation, develop budget spreadsheets, statements of work, review and analyze project reports and financial statements to ensure on-time achievement of project deliverables. The position requires flexibility, professionalism, and strong communication skills. Direct experience with the GOM is critical for policy reform within the context of early grade reading and girls’ education. And the ability to communicate USG positions on education issues to different audiences effectively is essential. Finally, the position requires good customer service and diplomatic skills, as the incumbent works closely with different implementing partners (international and local of varying capacities), many other diplomats, high-level USG representatives as well as the GOM.
a.      Supervision Received:
The SPMS will be supervised by the Education Office Director. The incumbent will be provided with information regarding the objectives to be achieved and an indication of the priorities/deadlines that must be met in carrying out the work tasks. S/he will handle assignments independently with minimal supervision according to established policies, previous training and accepted practices. S/he will be expected to develop her/his own work schedule, procedures for accomplishing tasks, and will work independently to resolve problems which may arise during accomplishment of activities. S/he will be expected to provide complete, accurate, concise reports without day-to-day assistance.
b.      Supervision Exercised:
The SPMS will lead a team of three to six FSNs with direct supervision over at least three FSN staff at the FSN 10 and 11 levels, providing daily mentoring, monitoring work, establishing work objectives and deliverables, and performing annual evaluations. Coaching and mentoring support will be provided to all six junior- to mid-level FSNs including one administrative assistant at the FSN 7 level, one financial analyst at the FSN 9 level, and one participant training specialist at the FSN 10 level.
c.      Available Guidelines:
Available guidelines include USAID’s Automated Directive Services (ADS), USG handbooks, Agency Notices on policies and procedures, Mission Orders, internal USG websites, USAID’s Global Education Strategy, and instructions from the Education Office Team and Director. Guidelines are often general and not specific to the situation at hand, requiring interpretation on the part of the USAID SPMS.
d.      Exercise of Judgment:
Excellent judgment and the ability to deal with ambiguity are essential. The incumbent must be able to assess alternatives and will need to exercise well-considered and mature judgment in carrying out all aspects of his/her work. The incumbent establishes priorities independently, identifies problems, develops solutions and takes action, keeping the supervisor apprised (seeking guidance when needed).
e.   Authority to Make Commitments:
The SPMS will directly manage at least one activity as well as oversee a portfolio of activities and activity managers. The authority to make commitments will be established by the Contracting Officer depending on the funding level, award instrument, and program nature delegated to the SPMS as AOR/COR.
f.     Nature, Level, and Purpose of Contacts:
The incumbent will work with all Education Office technical, programmatic and administrative staff.  S/he will also work internally with other USAID/Malawi offices and positions, particularly other USAID/Malawi office directors, the Deputy Mission Director and Mission Director.  At the U.S. Embassy, the SPMS will liaise, when requested, with the DCM and US Ambassador on technical matters relevant to the incumbent’s role, responsibilities, and technical expertise.  The incumbent will also be expected to liaise with USAID Washington technical experts and interagency partners from the Office of the First Lady, US State Department, USDA, and Peace Corps. External contacts include middle and senior-ranking government/management officials, including the Minister of Education and other donor partners and implementing partners, up to and including the Chief of Party of each education activity.  External contacts are made to obtain detailed program and budget management information to expedite the transmittal and processing of required Agency reports and responses to requests. The purpose is to enhance communications and sharing of experiences to foster coherent project implementation.
g.      Time Expected to Reach Full Performance Level:
It is expected that six (6) months will be required for the incumbent to become familiar with the tasks outlined in this position description and twelve (12) month to undertake the full range of duties.
g.      Time Expected to Reach Full Performance Level:
It is expected that six (6) months will be required for the incumbent to become familiar with the tasks outlined in this position description and twelve (12) month to undertake the full range of duties.

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