Chief Operating Officer - Programs

  • Executive-level, Full-time staff position
  • Posted on 30 July 2020
  • Washington, D.C., District of Columbia, United States | London, United Kingdom | Lyon, Rhone Alpes, France
  • Closing on 29 August 2020
  • Current
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Job Description

Chief Operating Officer - Programs

Department: Executive Team

Location: Washington, DC, London or Lyon

Reports to: CEO & President

Staff reporting to this post: SVP and VPs responsible for program management, technical assistance and program development, and Directors of security, award management and regions.

Budget responsibility: Oversee a global spending equivalent of $125 Million

Safeguarding classification: This role is classified as requiring advanced pre-employment checks

About the role.

This is a newly created role, reporting to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), to provide a single strategic leadership voice for our programs and knit together our major program related activities: program management, program development and technical assistance.

The Chief Operating Officer (COO) - Programs is responsible for leading and managing the efficient and effective implementation of Relief International’s global programs, in line with organizational strategy, consistent with our standards, and in compliance with donor, governmental and industry standards and requirements.

As COO-Programs your role will be to provide leadership to a high performing team of leaders across program management, program quality, program development, awards management and security.

Accountable to the CEO, and ultimately the boards of directors, for the implementation of strategic, high quality programs. Your role will be critical in partnering with your peers – the chief financial officer, and heads of risk management, human resources and development & communications – while also being responsible for the execution of field operations, including program planning, organizing, operating and staffing. You will also be responsible for managing the budget related to supporting effective program implementation.

You will provide insight and guidance on global-level strategy, approach, systems effectiveness and improvements to help strengthen our work in the field.


Strategic Planning and opportunities

  • Partner with the CEO to represent RI with external constituency groups, including community, governmental, and private organizations to improve the effectiveness and impact of our work.

  • Provide leadership in implementing the programmatic aspects of the strategic plan for 2021- 2025, setting organizational objectives and determining strategic investment, driving innovation and results, strengthening organizational systems and policies, coordinating functions and managing teams.

Quality Program Delivery

  • You will be responsible for the successful delivery of all of RI’s programs around the world.

  • Focus on program quality to ensure positive impact in communities we serve.

  • Ensure that all program activities operate consistently and ethically within the mission and values of Relief International.

  • Deliver RI global programs which are in line with the global strategy, high quality, on budget and safe.

  • Lead and implement a continuous quality improvement process throughout global programs, focusing on systems/process improvement.

  • Promote regular and ongoing opportunities for all staff to give feedback on program operations.

Budget and Fiscal Management

  • Design and deliver a resource mobilization plan, focusing on securing institutional donor funds for programs and implementing them in a timely fashion.

  • Prepare and submit an annual operational budget to the CEO and CFO for review and approval, manage effectively within this budget, and report accurately on progress made and challenges encountered.

  • Ensure the continued financial viability of Relief International’s programs through sound fiscal management.

Leadership and Management

  • Provide leadership, direction, strategy, vision, and program integrity for the organization’s projects and initiatives throughout the world.

  • Inspire team members to strive for excellence in meeting the needs of communities we work for.

  • Develop and nurture an effective and high performing team and departments that work well together.

  • Facilitate effective work force planning, organizational design and change management within the context of the five-year strategy and the needs of the organization.

  • Model and promote RI values within the team and with others

Organizational risk management

  • Working closely with global assurance team, review and manage risks identified for all country programs.

  • Uphold and promote RI’s commitment to ensuring the safeguarding and safety of the vulnerable communities we serve.

  • Consistent with RI’s safeguarding and protection policies, ensure all people who come into contact with Relief International are as safe as possible.

  • Ensure that the entire program delivery team embody RI’s commitment to a positive and productive work environment which is free from harassment and bullying.

Equity and Diversity commitment

  • Demonstrate sensitivity and understanding of systemic diversity and cultural differences.

  • Ensure that gender equity is addressed in our staffing and programing.

Role requirements.

You will bring the following skills and experience:

  • Progressive senior management and leadership experience, preferably at an executive level.
  • Solid educational background including an undergraduate degree and a master’s in international development/studies, MBA or similar advanced degree or equivalent experience.
  • Success in developing and implementing an organization-wide strategy for program excellence, engaging partners, and partnering with a CEO and board of directors.
  • Managed and led high performing teams operating across multiple development, humanitarian or nexus programs across a broad geography, including fragile settings.
  • Strong relationship building and communication skills with experience leading diverse work teams and working in globally distributed organizations to delivering strategic results.
  • Systematic approach to reporting, program measurement and program evaluation.
  • Demonstrated integrity and excellence in your work, with experience leading others to new levels of effectiveness and programmatic impact.
  • Passionate about Relief International’s mission and able to promote and communicate the philosophy, mission and values of Relief International to external and internal stakeholders.
  • Experience of ensuring cultural diversity and gender equity are embedded into global strategy and programming.
  • Ability and willingness to travel 25-50 percent of the time to provide on-site leadership for global program operations.

RI Values.

We uphold the Humanitarian Principles: humanity, neutrality, impartiality and operational independence. We affirmatively engage the most vulnerable communities.

We value:

  • Inclusiveness
  • Transparency and accountability
  • Agility and innovation
  • Collaboration
  • Sustainability


Relief International is committed to protecting our staff and the communities we work with from abuse and harm including sexual exploitation, sexual abuse and sexual harassment.

All staff are expected to abide by our Code of Conduct.

Recruitment to all roles in Relief International include a criminal records self-declaration, references and other pre-employment checks, which may include police and qualifications checks.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

Relief International is committed to diversity and gender equality, we strongly encourage applicants from the global south and female candidates to apply.

How to apply.

To apply for this post, click on the “Apply” button in the job advert page.

You will be asked to upload a CV and Cover Letter. The cover letter should be no more than 2 pages long and explain why you are interested in this post with Relief International and how your skills and experience make you a good fit.


Closing Date: 31 August 2020

First Round Interviews w/c 7 September 2020.

Final Panel Interviews w/c 21 September 2020.

*These dates may be subject to change and applicants will be advised in advance should this happen.

Due to limited resources, only short-listed candidates will be contacted.

Note to external agencies, we will not be accepting CVs from third parties.

About the Organization

About Relief International.

Relief International (RI) is a leading nonprofit organization working in 16 countries to relieve poverty, ensure well-being and advance dignity. We specialize in fragile settings, responding to natural disasters, humanitarian crises and chronic poverty.

Relief International combines humanitarian and development approaches to provide immediate services while laying the groundwork for long-term impact. Our signature approach — which we call the RI Way—emphasizes local participation, an integration of services, strategic partnerships and a focus on civic skills. In this way, we empower communities to find, design and implement the solutions that work best for them.

Relief International includes the four members of the RI Alliance in the USA, UK, France, and Belgium. Under our alliance agreement, we operate under a single, shared management structure with one CEO and one Board of Directors.

About our Programs.

RI is active in 16 countries around the world, including some of the most fragile: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Myanmar, Pakistan, Philippines, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Turkey, and Yemen. Often, RI is the only organization providing assistance to highly vulnerable communities.

  • RI employs 7,000+ staff and auxiliary workers

  • 97% of staff are in-country nationals

  • We only have some 90 ex-pat staff out of 7,000+

  • RI spent $125 million in 2019 on our programs.

RI invests in four broad program sectors: Economic Opportunity, Education, Health, and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH). We design our programs to incorporate The RI Way: local participation, integrated programming, the development of civic skills, and partnerships including with local NGOs, governments, and the private sector.

RI supports solutions that reinforce and improve upon existing in-country systems. Where such systems do not exist or are chronically underperforming, RI’s crisis response lays the foundation for long-term, sustainable change.

More information

COO Programs- Recruitment Brochure.pdf

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